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Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy

but theyre uglier when flat!


A Comprehensive Look at Trailer Tires
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are drawn from various sources and, as such, cannot be verified as true. Other information may
reflect the opinion of persons or their actual experiences that may or may not reflect scientific fact. With all this in mind I cannot take
responsibility for the accuracy of all content displayed in this article.

Introduction
If theres a topic thatll bring about controversy, a diversity of opinions, and a plethora of facts, non-facts & basic
misinformation, the topic of trailer tires can roll right over any discussion round an RV campfire. Some folks
advise using truck tires on camping trailers while others say theres no difference between auto tires and trailer
tires. The controversy over US-made tires versus Asian-made tires can quickly heat up the crowd more than the
campfire itself. But no one disagrees that a blowout can ruin your days travel plans, put a dent in your vacation
budget, and possibly pound more than one dent into your trailers floor or tire well, or below-floor plumbing parts,
or brake wiring, or (lets stop here before we need to break out the bottle of Tums; Im feeling the stomach acid
churning already.)
I am certainly not an expert on trailer tires, but I have done some research that may help you to better decide how
to deal with your tire issues as they relate to your camping trailer. This discussion is limited to trailer tires only and
will not address other RV tires such as those on motorhomes or tow vehicles. With this in mind, lets get lookin at
those round, black things that are not a priority until they fail us and leave us flat.

Difference between auto, truck, and trailer tires


Yes, Virginia, there is a difference in tires! Or so tire manufacturers tell us.
Automobile tires probably have the most tire science behind them for two reasons: 1) there are more
automobiles than trucks or trailers, and 2) because there are more automobiles there are more people riding in
them, therefore there is a greater potential for liability related to the injury of people, so tires for cars have
benefitted from greater research & development. Auto tires are designed with several factors involved: good
traction in varying weather/road conditions, good wearability, that is, having a high mileage tread life, handling,
i.e. cornering and braking, comfortable ride, quiet ride / low road noise, puncture resistance & reduced tire
failure, and reduced rolling resistance / improved fuel economy. Each of these characteristics may be given
higher priority depending upon each model tires intended use. For example, customers desiring high mileage
wear characteristics might have to sacrifice higher safe cornering speeds, and vice versa.
Light truck tires have many of the same characteristics as auto tires with potentially higher emphasis (in some
models) on traction in varying road conditions (e.g. sand, dirt, mud, etc.) along with higher weight-carrying
capacity. Trucks may also be designated to carry higher loads by displaying the letters LT on their tires sidewall
signifying Light Truck. Certain automobile tires may also carrying an XL (extra load) designation for use on
heavier luxury sedans over 4,000 pounds. Note, the XL designation is not a requirement, but it may signal the
customer to further check out the actual load capacity specified by the tires manufacturer.
Trailer tires have a different set of goals than automobile and light truck tires. Rather than speculating on factors
involved in trailer tires, lets read comments from actual trailer tire specialists:
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

Tire Rack, a well-known & respected online tire retailer, posted the following information on its website (http://
www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=219) :
There are differences in the driving requirements between the tires on your trailer and those on the car or light
truck you used to tow it. Therefore there are distinct differences between the way trailer tires and tow vehicle
tires are engineered.
Your tow vehicle is a leader, which means traction is a key focus in the design of its tires. Traction allows your
tow vehicle to accelerate down the road, turn around the corner and brake to a stop. Another important
consideration is tow vehicle tires are designed for ride comfort, which is achieved in part by allowing their
sidewalls to flex.
Your trailer is a follower, which often makes tire sidewall flexing a negative. Sidewall flexing on trailers,
especially those with a high center of gravity (enclosed/travel trailers) or that carry heavy loads, is a primary
cause of trailer sway. Typical passenger radial tires with flexible sidewalls can accentuate trailer sway problems.
The stiffer sidewalls and higher operating pressures common with Special Trailer (ST) designated tires help
reduce trailer sway.
Also consider that Special Trailer (ST), as well as Light Truck (LT) tires are fully rated for trailer applications.
This means ST- and LT-sized tires can carry the full weight rating branded on the sidewalls when used on a
trailer.
However when P-metric or Euro-metric tires are used on a trailer, the load capacity branded on the sidewalls
must be reduced by 9%. This means P-metric or Euro-metric tires with a maximum branded load rating of
1,874 lbs. for use on a car is only rated to carry 1,705 lbs. when used on a trailer.
Comparing the load capacities of a pair of tires of the same dimensions fitted to a single axle trailer,
ST225/75R15 Load Range C-sized tires inflated to their maximum of 50 psi provide 4,300 lbs. of load
capacity, where P225/75R15 Standard Load-sized tires inflated to their maximum of 35 psi would be limited to
3,410 lbs. of load capacity, a total reduction of 890 pounds.
Trailers will be more stable and pull better on tires designed specifically for trailer use. Since Special Trailer
(ST) tires are constructed with heavier duty materials, they are tougher than typical passenger vehicle tires. This
is a plus because trailer suspension systems are generally stiffer and less sophisticated than automotive
suspension systems.
Special Trailer (ST) Tire Speed Ratings:
Industry standards dictate tires with the ST designation are speed rated to 65 MPH (104 km/h) under normal
inflation and load conditions.
However Goodyear Marathon and Power King Towmax STR tires featuring the ST size designation may be
used at speeds between 66 and 75 mph (106 and 121 km/h) by increasing their cold inflation pressure by 10 psi
(69 kPa) above the recommended pressure for the rated maximum load.
Do not exceed the wheels maximum rated pressure. If the maximum pressure for the wheel prohibits the

increase of air pressure, then maximum speed must be restricted to 65 mph (104 km/h).
The cold inflation pressure must not exceed 10 psi (69 kPa) beyond the inflation specified for the maximum
load of the tire.
Increasing the inflation pressure by 10 psi (69 kPa) does not provide any additional load carrying capacity.

Discount Tire, a major tire retailer, provides their slant on trailer tires in their website article (http://
m.discounttire.com/dtcs/infoTrailerTireFacts.dos) :
Trailer Tire Applications
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

Trailer tires are designed for use on trailer axle positions only. They are not built to handle the loads applied
to, or the traction required by, drive or steering axles.
Inflation
Always inflate trailer tires to the maximum inflation indicated on the sidewall.
Check inflation when the tires are cool and have not been exposed to the sun.
If the tires are hot to the touch from operation, add three psi to the max inflation.
Underinflation is the number one cause of trailer tire failure.
Load Carrying Capacity
All tires must be identical in size for the tires to properly manage the weight of the trailer.
The combined capacity of the tires must equal or exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the axle.
The combined capacity of all of the tires should exceed the loaded trailer weight by 20 percent.
If the actual weight is not available, use the trailer GVW. If a tire fails on a tandem axle trailer, you should
replace both tires on that side. The remaining tire is likely to have been subjected to excessive loading.
If the tires are replaced with tires of larger diameter, the tongue height may need to be adjusted to maintain
proper weight distribution.
Speed
All "ST" tires have a maximum speed rating of 65 mph.
As heat builds up, the tire's structure starts to disintegrate and weaken.
The load carrying capacity gradually decreases as the heat and stresses generated by higher speed increases.
Time
Time and the elements weaken a trailer tire.
In approximately three years, roughly one-third of the tire's strength is gone.
Three to five years is the projected life of a normal trailer tire.
It is suggested that trailer tires be replaced after three to four years of service regardless of tread depth or
tire appearance.
Mileage
Trailer tires are not designed to wear out.
The life of a trailer tire is limited by time and duty cycles.
The mileage expectation of a trailer tire is 5,000 to 12,000 miles.
Why Use An "ST" Tire
"ST" tires feature materials and construction to meet the higher load requirements and demands of
trailering.
The polyester cords are bigger than they would be for a comparable "P" or "LT" tire.
The steel cords have a larger diameter and greater tensile strength to meet the additional load requirements.
"ST" tire rubber compounds contain more chemicals to resist weather and ozone cracking.
Storage
The ideal storage for trailer tires is in a cool, dark garage at maximum inflation.
Use tire covers to protect the tires from direct sunlight.
Use thin plywood sections between the tire and the pavement.
For long term storage, put the trailer on blocks to take the weight off the tires. Then lower the air pressure
and cover the tires to protect them from direct sunlight.
Maintenance
Clean the tires using mild soap and water.
Do not use tire-care products containing alcohol or petroleum distillates.
Inspect the tires for any cuts, snags, bulges or punctures.
Check the inflation before towing and again before the return trip.
Keys to Avoiding Trouble
Make sure your rig is equipped with the proper tires.
Maintain the tires meticulously.
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

Replace trailer tires every three to five years, whether they look like they're worn out or not.
Trailer Tire Warranty
The Carlisle trailer tire warranty applies to the original purchaser for three years from the date of purchase
or until the tread depth reaches 3/32".
The OE (original equipment) warranty goes into effect at the time of the trailer purchase.

Tire load ratings


It is essential that the tires on your trailer be able to carry the weight of the trailer and its contents. In order to find
the tire(s) that will do this you must first know: 1) the weight of your trailer and 2) the weight of the contents youll
carry in your trailer. This can be calculated by having your fully loaded trailer weighed at a truck stop or *public
scale (*if available). This combined weight, plus an additional 20% (factory-specified safety factor), is the load
your tires must be able to safely carry. Example: if your trailer weighs 2500 pounds and the combined load of
everything youre going to carry inside the trailer is another 800 pounds, this weight of 3300 pounds (2500 + 800)
must include an additional 20% safety factor (.20 x 3300 = ) of 660 pounds. The final calculated load then is 3300
+ 660 = 3960 pounds. If your trailer has two tires you then divide this load by 2 indicating that each tire you
purchase must be rated to carry (3960 2) 1980 pounds per tire. (If equipped with two axles / four tires, you divide
the 3960 4 = 990 pounds per tire.)
Theres another area of confusion when purchasing trailer tires: trailer tires have rating systems that are different
for bias-ply and radial tires. A C-rated trailer tire designates that the tire is a radial type tire. A D-rated trailer
tire designates that the tire is a bias-ply type tire. As trailer tires go up in the rating scale (e.g. from B to D) the
carrying capacity of each tire goes up also except that most C-rated radial tires have a higher carrying capacity
than a D-rated bias-ply tire. This can make tire selection a confusing and frustrating task! Some tire salesmen
are not even aware of this rating system or its intricacies! To further add confusion, the load carrying capacity of
tires even within the same load rating may vary by manufacturer. (Is your brain swimming yet?) Do not dismay,
there is a (relatively) simple solution: have the tire retailer show you each tires rated carrying capacity in pounds.
This can be found in product literature or on the manufacturers website and I avoid accepting the retailers
verbal specs and insist on seeing the rated carrying load in writing. (Remember the salesman wont be there to
change your blown tire if the rating is incorrect!)
Regarding bias-ply versus radial trailer tires, there are advantages & disadvantages to each type of tires. This
decision is best left to you and a knowledgeable tire specialist or further research on the internet. But you should
have all your tires be the same type (either radial or bias-ply). Mixing tire types, especially on the same axle, can
result in negative driving issues such as a sudden & dangerous loss of vehicle control resulting in property
damage, personal injury or loss of life.

Now what? The abundance of information provided above certainly adds to your checklist of considerations in

the selection & care of trailer tires while, hopefully, dispelling some of the myths that circulate around rally campfire
conversations. But there are additional, important considerations regarding trailer tires

Age Before Beauty


Weve all probably heard that comedic phrase as two friends joke over wholl go through a doorway first but it
also applies to trailer tires. My own anecdotal observations have noted that a major cause of trailer tire failure, and
the resultant damage to the trailer itself, can be attributed on tire age.
Most trailer owners relay upon a visual inspection of tread depth to determine when to buy new tires. This is
primarily done because as car owners we replace our tires when they wear down to our tires safe tread-depth
indicator bars. But most auto tires are replaced due to wear; they get driven many more miles per year than our
trailers. But conditions INSIDE tires are a major cause of tire failure. The climate inside tires causes them to
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

deteriorate internally, so the trailer owner has no means by which to inspect their physical condition by analyzing
them from the outside.
This internal breakdown results in sudden tire failure and usually at highway speeds. The tires tread blows out
and the sidewalls collapse causing a sudden loss in control. Even worse, sidewalls blow out and all or a portion of
the tread remains connected and youre now a sideshow performer watching your 3 to 4 anaconda whip around
at 50 miles-per-hour or more and ripping apart anything in its way: the trailers wheelwell, brake wiring, under-floor
plumbing, or whatever else it chooses to consume.
This is why tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires every 3-5 years. Ive heard suggestions of 5-7 years, but
have personally chosen to replace them at 5-year intervals no matter what the tread depth. Even then I may be
taunting my anacondas to attack my trailer.
When it comes to replacing trailer tires I always consider as truth the age-old adage pay me now or pay me later;
you can buy new tires when they get old enough or gamble on paying more to replace them AND the resulting
damage done when they reek havoc on your trailer.
One final comment on this very important topic of age: A close relative called me while driving to Florida, Can I
stop by the Mendola house of trailer repair? I just blew out a tire and its ripped out my plumbing and torn the
wiring from my trailer brakes. After two and one-half days of repair and parts acquisition we replaced two tires,
repaired portions of frame supports, replaced both brake assemblies & their wiring, and replaced all the plumbing
underneath the trailer. The cost? A few bucks short of $400 (with no charge for labor). The culprit? (Youve already
guessed.) Age. The owner was sure his tires couldnt have been 4 years old. Our investigation returned a
manufacture date of 6 years. Replacement at less than 5-year intervals is now his accepted norm. Of the $400
repair less than $175 was two new trailer tires including mounting, high speed spin balancing, new valve stems,
taxes and disposal fees. This means that about $225 in parts (remember, the labor costs were limited to two
luncheons as a thank you) was the penance paid for forgetting that age-old adage.
So the moral of the trailer tire story is Age before beauty.

By the way how old ARE your tires?


I often think my forgetter is getting better so, more than ever before, Im writing down facts, figures, dates, times,
etc. For the past 45 years Ive been keeping rather extensive logs of all my auto repairs including dates, parts
numbers, manufacturers, suppliers, warranties, costs and receipts. That practice continued when I purchased my
first travel trailer; my trailers history is now housed in a 3-ring binder and kept in the camper. (It wont do me
much good at home if Im 2,000 miles away camping!) Tires are always included in the logbook: brand & model,
date of purchase, date of manufacture, price paid, and business from which the purchase was made. Those notes
& records resulted in two tire failures receiving free replacement tires with rims at no cost to me!

#1

#2

Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

But what if I dont know the date of my tires? How will I know when to replace them? The U.S. Department of
Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that Tire Identification
Numbers be a combination of the letters DOT, followed by ten, eleven or twelve letters and/or numbers that
identify the manufacturing location, tire size and manufacturer's code, along with the week and year the tire was
manufactured. Since 2000, the week and year the tire was produced has been provided by the last four digits of
the Tire Identification Number with the 2 digits being used to identify the week immediately preceding the 2 digits
used to identify the year (see example #1 on previous page). In more modern years the manufacture date is often
seen as just 4 digits utilizing the same coding system as the other system (see example #2 on previous page).
In both cases shown above the tires date-of-manufacture is the last 4 digits of the DOT Tire Identification Number
(5107), which indicates that this particular tire was manufactured on the 51st week of the year 2007 (second last
week of December 2007). This coding system is used for all transport tires. If not visible, the tire may have been
mounted with the date code on the reverse side of the tire, so check there also.
But theres more to consider! So you know that your tires are old enough to be replaced but what age tires will
you buy? Wow, I didnt think of that either! Yep, your tire supplier may sell you tires that are already 1 or 2 years
old, in which case youre already halfway to needing replacements before youve even left the tire shop! This
phenomena isnt necessarily a hoax by tire store personnel because often they have no idea of the age of the tires
theyre selling. This is because auto tires are sold more often than trailer tires, so stock is rotated much more
frequently. Not only are trailer tires sold less often, most suppliers may not carry your exact size in stock; the more
odd your trailer tires size, the more probable your replacement tires will have to be ordered from a warehouse. In
many cases this time delay is only 1-2 days, but the local tire store has no idea of the age of the tires that theyll be
sent. So what to do? When I order tires I always inform the tire store, both verbally and in written form (a note with
my name, tire size, phone number and the days date) that I will not accept tires that are over 6 months old.
Period. I choose 6 months as an arbitrary date because if Im stuck in Moose Jaw, Wyoming I may have to accept
an 8-9 month old tire unless I want to establish temporary residence in this beautiful & scenic layover. In every
case of tire replacement Ive encountered I have always gotten tires with 6 months or less age.
(Note: This strategy should also be used in purchasing auto & RV batteries. Suppliers may try to sell you a new
battery that has been sitting in storage for 2-3 YEARS! Dont think so? Check the sticker on the battery for the
date of manufacture, e.g. 12/14 equals Dec. 2014 date-of-manufacture. I am unsure if the DOT or other
government agency requires a date code for batteries, but my battery supplier has stickers on their batteries and I
have refused batteries that are over 3 months old, especially if being replaced under warranty. IVE paid for the
warranty, its not a gift from the supplier, so Im entitled to a new battery, especially if Im paying toward the
replacement under a prorated replacement schedule.)

Other considerations effecting tire replacement


Age is frequently the demise of a trailer tire but other conditions may cause consideration of your tires
replacement such as uneven tire wear to the point that the tread area is worn below the wear bars. Not all trailer
tires have wear bars, Ive seen few with them, so when your tires are getting close to 2/323/32 of tread depth
its time to buy new tires. Visible flat wear spots, bulges, cracks, spots of deterioration are all indicators that your
tires should be considered for replacement.
Heres a philosophy that may make that replacement cost easier to swallow:
1) Would you rather pay for tires alone, or tires PLUS the repair of damaged parts of your trailer that occur as a
result of tire failure?

Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

2) Two tires for an average A-frame folding camper, including mounting, balancing, taxes, etc., will run about $200.
Thats less than the cost of 3 nights in a decent motel. When compared to the cost of nightly camping youve
still got a great bargain by living in your camping trailer.
3) How much is your life worth? Several years ago I drove past an accident scene along the Florida Turnpike. A
camping trailer, being pulled by an heavy, older, full-size sedan, had blown a tire. The driver lost control of the
trailer-car combo (I probably couldnt have done better than he/she did) and the trailer went over the adjacent
bridge railing. The mass of the big sedan, plus a really good trailer hitch system, kept the trailer attached to the
car as the trailer dangled over the bridge railing above the traffic jam about 30 feet below. As we slowly drove
past in traffic I wondered how/if the owner would get that trailer back up onto the highway in operable condition.
Good tires probably would have kept that incident from occurring in the first place. And what if the tow car had
gone over with the trailer? Nightmares are made of such scenarios.

What tires should I buy and from whom?


Foreign versus USA tires: Very few trailer tires are manufactured in the USA. Even domestic tire companies
have their smaller size trailer tires manufactured to their specifications overseas. Korea and China are two of the
largest trailer tire manufacturers. There is little that the consumer can do to evaluated trailer tires, unlike auto tires
that are scrutinized by such publications as Consumers Report magazine. Word-of-mouth recommendations can
be worthwhile. Searching trailer tire reviews on the internet may also reveal insights into a good choice.
Warranties: I have only read of one tire manufacturer that offers a warranty, and I have had questionable
experiences with that firms trailer tires. Your best bet is to maintain your tires as recommended by manufacturers
(see recommendation to follow and indicated earlier in this document).
Buy from whom? If a warranty is not available (and it usually isnt) then it may not make a difference. I generally
chose to buy my trailer tires from a reputed, local tire shop that has provided good service in the past. When on
the road I dont have that luxury, though I do ask locals which tire store they feel is the best in their area.
Comparing prices with that firm and another local tire store has often led to a price difference of only a few dollars,
so Ive chosen to buy from the firm thats been recommended. Talking with sales personnel may reveal a tire brand
that is a better choice. Scrutinize their knowledge & competence. Ask questions. Dont be afraid to walk away.

Maintenance & safety issues


Tire balancing? I prefer to have all my tires (auto, truck & trailer) high-speed spin balanced. I feel I get a safer &
smoother ride with less stress on the tires and trailer (suspension and trailer itself).
New valve stem? No reputable shop will let you drive without changing the valve stems. A relative of mine
suffered severe tire damage when inferior valve stems were installed on his wheels when he bought new tires.
Hence he always asks about the quality of valve stems being installed!
Nitrogen or air inside your tires? Nitrogen has a larger molecular size than air, so its less apt to seep out
through the tires rubber. But if you suffer a small leak and/or must top-up your tires, will you pay for nitrogen or
just add air? I use only air (not saying nitrogen isnt better) because I dont expect to keep my tires long enough to
see the benefit of one gas over the other. The same is true with my cars tires as I raise the tire pressure in my
tow vehicles tires a few pounds in the front tires and several more in the rear tires to compensate for the added
weight of the trailer Im pulling. I then lower tire pressure at the end of my towing season. For me nitrogen is not
cost effective, but you decide whats best for you.
Do you know Jack? Im a member of an auto club (AAA) with tire-changing benefits. But Im also impatient, and
on several occasions I didnt want to wait 1-2 days for the auto service to change my tire in the remote Canadian
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

Yukon Territory. So I carry a -square-drive ratchet wrench, a section of


steel tubing to place over the ratchet handle for more leverage, sockets to
match my cars & trailers lug nuts, security (lock) lug nuts, and scissors
jack hex drive nut (blue circle) All sockets are different sizes. I also carry a
dedicated trailer jack (see next paragraph) along with work gloves, a ground
tarp (I might have to crawl under the trailer) and a flashlight (flat tires do not
honor daylight restrictions related to blowouts). This simple kit has been used
on 6-8 occasions over the past 11 years of trailer camping.
So now, do you think know jack? Im talking about whether you carry a safe & stable jack of sufficient size and
strength to lift your trailer safely in order to change a flat tire on your trailer. Few campers Ive met have a
dedicated jack specifically matched to their trailer. Is this a costly issue? Not really. I purchase strong scissor-type
jacks from junk yards (oops! auto parts recycling centers) that come from older full-size cars, trucks or SUVs. The
cost? $10$15. I bolt the jack onto a -thick piece of plywood (not lumber, even a 2x12 will crack!). Make the
-thick plywood approximately 12 x 18 or larger. I also fasten two pieces of angle iron (steel) to the top of the
jack so that the resulting U shape spans the width of the trailers frame, which serves as the jack point. I also
make the U bracket swivel so I can position the jack at any desired angle to the trailers frame. Use the following
info as a guide in making your own trailer jack:
How to make your own trailer jack:
1. First, measure distance from underside of trailer frame to ground (A1).
Second, subtract the height of tire from lower-edge of rim to ground (A2),
which allows for a flat tire). Dimension A = A1 A2.
A1
A2
2. Using a secure jack, lift the trailer high enough to raise the tire about 3-6 off
the ground. With a jack stand or other secure prop under the trailer frame, measure
the vertical space from the ground to the bottom of the frame. This is dimension B.
3. These two dimensions give you the lowest (A) and highest (B) dimensions you need
in a jack. I prefer a strong scissors jack from a full-size car or pick-up truck. They
are usually cheapest at a u-pull-it junkyard (or flea market or yard sale).
B
4. Jacks of this type are turned via a rod or a hex nut. If via a rod, get this rod-crank
handle from the same or similar vehicle at the salvage yard so youll have a way to
3-6
crank up the jack. Make sure the rod matches the jacks connecting end and it will reach
far enough under your trailer to make cranking easier.
5. If actuated via hex nut, you can make an extra long, 1/2-drive, ratchet extension
by cutting the extension in half and welding it at each end of a long pipe. Get a matching 1/2-drive socket and ratchet.
6. Measure the width of your frame and make a U-shaped bracket to span it. This can be made from two pieces of angle
steel overlapped or side-to-side to form a U. This will keep the trailer frame from sliding off the jack when raised. Weld
or bolt the U-bracket to the top of the jack. Its good to allow the bracket to swivel left-right to make placement under the
trailer easier.
7. Securely attach the jack to a 3/4 or thicker piece of plywood at least 12 x 18. (Do NOT attach to a piece of non-ply
lumber as the board may crack along the woods grain.) Attach the jack to this base with bolts, washers & nuts rather
than screws. The plywood gives you a more secure base for jacking in sand and loose gravel along roadsides.

Tire maintenance: There are few steps in tire maintenance, so it shouldnt be a burdensome experience.
Cleaning Manufacturers recommend washing tires with simple soap & water. This reduces naturally occurring
ozone that causes rubber to become brittle which results in cracks that over time become wider and deeper and
eventually lead to tire failure. Some manufacturers recommend you not use tire dressing to enhance the
appearance of the tires (e.g. tire gloss sprays) if the dressing contains petroleum distillates or alcohol.
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info

Tire pressure Checking & maintaining proper tire pressure is the most important step. I check my trailer tires
once every two weeks while trailering. Check tires when theyre cold. Re-read the Inflation notes above in the
article by Discount Tire these notes cover this topic in detail.
Though some tire manufacturers recommend inflating trailer tires to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall
of the tire this may not always result in better tire wear. Why? Most trailers have springs (torsion or leaf springs)
but no shock absorbers (like autos have). Under certain conditions the 50 psi inflation rate may result in a tire
becoming hard and bouncing like a basketball when it hits a bump in the road. Repeated bouncing may lead to
distortion on the tire resulting in premature tire wear or failure. If an occasional visual check of the tire reveals
cupping or scalloping on the tread or edge of a tire have your tire checked for proper balancing. (You may have
lost a wheel weight.) If the tire is confirmed as being properly balanced then check your cold tire pressure. If its
at the maximum pressure drop the pressure 2-4 psi and see if the bouncing stops. But, because underinflation is a
major cause of tire failure, you need to see that your tires are running cool enough and thats an easy task. After
driving an hour or more at highway speeds, pull off the road at a safe location. Place your palm on top of the trailer
tires tread. If its so hot you cant hold your hand on the tread, then add 1-2 psi more tire pressure. If the tire is
warm or hot but you can still hold your hand on the tires tread without hurting your hand, then the pressure is OK.
Tire bounce can result in permanent distortion to a tire, which can lead to tire failure due to internal cord
separation. NOTE: If you experience no tires problems at the maximum inflation pressure recommended on your
tires sidewall avoid using the aforementioned technique as it is only for situations of continued tire bouncing.
Tire pressure gauges A good tire pressure gauge is also a necessary tool for your trailer trips. I carry a digital
tire pressure gauge in my car all the time. The cost was less than $9 (year 2015). I have found pencil gauges to
be quite inaccurate, so spend a few bucks to get an accurate gauge. The best gauge shouldnt run over $20 and
they often go on sale at big-box tire stores.
RV storage effects your trailers tires Several sources have noted that when storing your trailer for very long
periods if you have access place your trailer on steel jack stands and remove weight from the tires. Otherwise
long-term storage of your RV should include placing cardboard, plastic or plywood under your tires to keep them
from contact with the ground and materials especially those containing petroleum distillates or alcohol, or at least
place the tires upon wooden boards large enough so the entire contact patch of the tire will fit on them.

SUMMARY
Trailer tires are a part of camping and trailering, therefore trailer tires are unavoidable. Tire failure is an adventure
no one wants to experience but many of us will. There are things you can do to either avoid the experience or
lessen its impact upon your travel plans and your wallet. My best advice is to read this document again, and read it
prior to your next camping trip. I review this content at least once a year, especially before my annual 6-month
overland voyage in my Aliner land yacht. I find Im experiencing less tire problems when Im aware of the issues
and take pro-active steps to keep the bad things from happening. I hope you benefit from my research and
experiences.

Happy camping ! !
Mr. Chris Mendola holds both BSEd and MSEd degrees in Industrial Technology Education and has done extensive repairs,
maintenance, renovations & modifications to A-frame camping trailers along with the design and manufacture of A-frame trailer safety
kits. Both he and his wife, Sally, have presented on various travel topics at RV rallies. Chris has also restored & customized several
mid-1950 and late-1960 automobiles and is currently the president of a Central Florida diesel car club where he does almost all his own
repairs. Chris can be contacted at (email) thriftytravelers@cox.net . We also encourage you to visit our website (www.thriftytravel.info)
for other RV- and travel-related information including thousands of POIs (Points-Of-Interest) categorized by state & province, archived
travel newsletters, Tips & Tech RV topics, and detailed information on available A-frame trailer kits.
Trailers Tires: They Aint Purdy but theyre uglier when flat! copyright Chris Mendola, Feb 2015, www.thriftytravel.info