We were sailing along on I10 Saturday afternoon with the cruise set on 65 mph when one of the trailer tires blew out. No drama but a loud “pop” and the da da da da noise of the tire shreading. Thankfully no sway, little traffic and a broad grassy shoulder to pull off on.
I don’t carry a trailer spare because of the weight and volume it would take up, two precious commodities in a camper as small as ours. I figured if we had a problem we could leave the trailer at the side of the road and drive to a tire store. That’s what we did. The Lake City Walmart was about ten miles down the road and they had a tire mounted on a new rim in our size. Returned to the Snoozy, mounted the new tire and continued on our way to Sue’s parents in Port Charlotte. Dealing with the flat tire added two hours and more than a little hassle to our 500 mile trip.
On a positive note, we did have time to listen to six more episodes of Serial.
Sunday was spent cleaning and organizing the trailer to actually go camping on Monday. I checked the old tire that didn’t blow out – it had always held pressure just fine and the tread looked “OK”.
Monday afternoon, after driving another 50 miles on the freeway, we were camped at Koreshan SP. Relaxing and fiddling around with the trailer I got to comparing the old and new tires.
The old tire:
The new tire:
The tread on the new tire is much wider. Closer inspection showed the tread on the inner and outer edges of the old tire to be completely worn away. I could feel bulges by running my hand along the sidewall too. Gross under inflation might cause this wear pattern but I am very careful to check the pressure often and keep it at 50 psi.
I decided to not drive any further until I got another matching new tire the next day at the Naples Walmart.
I installed the new tire this morning and, looking at the old tire all over, found the rubber peeling away from the carcass in one spot.
1) Car tires may be fine as long as they still have adequate tread but trailer tires are much more prone to damage. There are countless stories on RV forums of trailer tires blowing out. Just checking the pressure is not enough preventative maintenance. They need a careful visual inspection once in a while.
2) Trailers, especially smaller ones with 13″ or 14″ wheels, (we have 14”s) come with especially-made-for-trailers ST designation tires. These are supposed to have special construction to carry heavier loads but I believe they also are more prone to catastrophic failure. Part of the problem too is that often trailers come with relatively small wheels for the load they have to carry when the camper is all packed up ready for use. Consequently the tires can be loaded to near or even over their maximum. The Snoozy factory said ours weighed 2100#. It actually weighs 2850#. The tires have a combined load rating of 3520# so I figured we were safely under the maximum. Apparently not!
The old tires lasted about 20,000 miles. Our new tires have the same load rating and I expect they will get us through our Florida winter camping and back home next spring. Then I’m going to explore getting larger wheels and correspondingly larger light truck tires. I believe LT tires will be a lot safer, especially because they will be running at maybe 60% of capacity instead of the current 205/75-14s at 80%. A nice bonus will be that, if I can find the right size hubs, I will be able to use the Jeep spare on the trailer.