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RV Tire Safety: Tires – Dull or dynamic? Part one

Following is an article I was asked to write for a tire industry trade publication in the U.K., “Tyres International.” I thought you might find it a bit interesting.

To the untrained eye it might seem like the tire industry has not done much to improve John Dunlop’s original. But looks can be deceiving.

Many people think the tires on their car are just a necessary evil. Most seldom, if ever, check their inflation while alignment is something few ever consider. Then, after 40,000 miles, they complain about the fact they have to buy new tires. Even within the automotive industry, there are those who don’t appreciate the dynamic nature of tire design, and the significant improvements and changes made since John Dunlop invented the forerunner of today’s modem tire.

There are many challenges facing the tire engineer today, but one of the most challenging is to make continual improvements in rolling resistance. In North America, the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), otherwise known as “Detroit”, demand the improvement or lowering of the rolling resistance value of the tires they approve. The rolling resistance of tires has a direct impact on the fuel economy of the vehicle. Many would think the primary reason for an interest in rolling resistance would be to allow the manufacturer to advertise good gas mileage for their vehicles.

Stopping the gas guzzle

While good fuel economy is something that can be advertised, a more concrete example of why this is a major concern of the OEM is the avoidance of what is known as the “Fuel Guzzler Tax”. This tax can amount to many tens of millions of dollars as the OEM must pay for each 0.10 mpg their vehicles are over a government mandated rating.

There is some data that shows that a one percent reduction in rolling resistance could be worth US$60 million on certain car lines. Despite this major interest by Detroit, I have never been asked about the rolling resistance of a brand or line of tires by any individual considering the purchase of a set of tires.

Significant strides have been made in improving the rolling resistance of tires going to Detroit. Figure 1 shows the trend as well as the ultimate value possible with a steel wheel on steel rail. It is obvious to see the majority of improvements have already been made, and while we may expect some level of continual improvement, we will not see the dramatic improvements of the past 20 years continue in the future.

RRC, or Rolling Resistance Coefficient. is one way of comparing a variety of sizes and adjusting for vehicle load as well.

Figure 1. (Sorry for the poor quality.)

Pricing opens the purse strings

At the same time as these improvements have been made and despite great strides in ride quality, crisper handling, improved snow and wet traction and other various measures of performance, Detroit also expects us to lower our price a few percent each and every year. The fact that many people are willing to spend more for shoes, simply because some athlete wears the same brand, than they are willing to spend on a tire points out the level of disdain and disinterest most feel toward tires. Seldom does a driver consider that it is the tires that must deliver strong performance in emergencies to help protect them and their family from harm.

History in the making

A quick look at the advancements in tires during just the last 80 years can be very instructive. In 1920, your normal automobile tires cost between US$25 and US$60 each. This tire was advertised as being capable of delivering 6,000 miles. This translates to about US$0.007 per mile. With normal inflation considered, these sale prices translate to US$200 to US$500 per tire in today’s dollars. When we consider that today’s normal tire is capable of delivering 40,000 miles, yet can be purchased for about US$70, we can see that the cost per mile is now only US$0.0018 per mile.

We will conclude this article in the next post.

Have a tire question? Ask Roger on his new RV Tires Forum here. It’s hosted by RVtravel.com and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT1081

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wanderer
1 month ago

This article opens with a bit on how careless we are about inflation and alignment.

It is very difficult when traveling to find any place that can or will do rotations or alignments on even a small motor home. The car shops don’t have the right lift or clearance, the truck shops, well, contempt is the word that comes to mind. The dealerships will gouge you, after demanding an appointment 4 weeks in advance, drop off for a day, and surrender of your keys while heaven knows what goes on in your rig in the back ‘but we’re not responsible for loss or theft’.

If you want us to be more conscientious, let’s see a map of places that will cheerfully work on RVs in a reasonable time frame.

Robert Champlin
1 month ago
Reply to  wanderer

Agreed.

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  wanderer

I’ve never experienced contempt at a truck shop – quite the opposite, I’ve had excellent service from people who recognize the value of time.

Wayne C
1 month ago

The improvements in tires has not been lost on me! I remember the days of 20,000 mile tires that were more expensive than the high mileage tires of today. It doesn’t bother me to pay the price of premium tires and I try to buy the best tires available regardless of price. It’s my opinion that the best quality tires are the most economical in the long run.
Thanks Roger for educating me about tires.

TexasScout
1 month ago

My last work truck was a 2016 Toyota Tundra. In the time I had it (just got a new Ram 2500) I had at least 5 sets of tires on it. When I parked it, it had 334000 miles on it and it NEVER had to be aligned. It was checked every time the oil was changed at the dealer and the alignment was never off.

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