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Another Goodyear Tire Failure SagaI specifically requested Goodyear tires on a car-hauler trailer custom-built for me last year. It arrived with Goodyear Wrangler II LT tires, late 2014 manufacture dates. I shrugged off the age of the tires, and accepted the unit. My practice is to inflate to sidewall placard pressure, as we've discussed extensively at FMCA and iRV2. Additionally, I scan both tire and bearing temps during safety stops on a progressive schedule underway: first, third, sixth hour. With a year of use, and about 5,000 miles -- there was no visible tread wear -- my trailer tires began failing internally during a recent trip. Thankfully, the first two were caught during slow deflation by the TPMS; the third exploded and did some fender damage. To help users, I'll include a photo of the second tire failure, caught in progress. That way, you can spot what to look for. This particular tire was checked an hour prior to the incident and was running at 116F on a warm summer day in Georgia, inflated to 80PSI at 70F. There was no bearing or brake drag to increase wear/temperature. The combined weight of the car, trailer and misc contents divided by four barely exceeded 50% of the tire's load rating. In the case of this tire, I initally thought it was a false alarm from the TPMS: I entered a nearby rest area and parked on the end with the alarmed tires curbside for safety, soap-tested the still-inflated tire. No leakage was noted, so I tightened the TPMS transmitter, reinflated the tire and noted the pressure, fixed myself lunch. A half-hour later, I noted the pressure. The tire had lost something like 40PSI, so I removed it from the trailer and found these fissures between the treads. Research showed a pattern of failure in earlier Wrangler II LTs, some 200 injuries and 15 deaths have been associated with the model. However, Goodyear has paid claims and not recalled the tires. Three of these tires failed internally in three successive days of driving; so, I was at the Goodyear store in Marion, Mississippi, when it opened the morning after my third loss. The helpful salesman confirmed that Goodyear had not recalled that series, and explained that he'd have to order replacements. Since a Toyo dealer was nearly next door to our RV park, I went to them, next. Imagine my delight, discovering that the owner is a fellow Class A owner! He had indeed gotten the proverbial memo about Goodyear's quality/safety problems, and steered me to Toyo. We rummaged through his inventory, and he had me grab various sidewalls to assess their strength, an important characteristic of trailer tires. I noted that the light truck tires actually seemed to have beefier sidewalls than those designated for trailer use. His crew immediately swapped out all four of my tires. Counting the generic Chinese spare I'd bought in the wake of the first tire failure, I'd spent about $1,000. I reported the failures to the trailer manufacturer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and to Goodyear. Goodyear contacted me quickly, their representative stated that I'd been assigned a claim number. I submitted a debrief and receipts to them upon request and was just notified yesterday that they intend to give me a $267 rebate on a future Goodyear purchase. Given my experience with their product, I'm not sure if that option will be exercised, frankly. Consumers beware.
Surviving A Tire "Blowout"Over the past few months there have been a couple items in the news and on the Internet about tire failures on RVs and buses. The videos are pretty dramatic. http://tinyurl.com/h4f7ykr http://tinyurl.com/gmvclne Most on this forum are in motorhomes. Many also pull a toad but a few own or have friends with trailers or may even find themselves pulling a trailer ( See our Presidents Message in November FMCA magazine) so I will also include some information for those times. First, for tire failure on toad or trailer or the rear duals or tag of a motorhome it is critical that the driver is notified as soon as possible that there has been a failure or that one is about to occur. The only way I know of gaining this knowledge is with a TPMS that can alert the driver of air loss. Some TPMS can even alert the driver in the first few seconds when the inflation has dropped just a few psi from the hot running pressure. If you do not run a TPMS then you will not learn of the pressure loss before damage has been done, as you will be depending on passing motorists to get the driver's attention. By this time, damage has been done but hopefully the toad or trailer hasn't rolled over or separated from the motorhome which could raise the level of severity of consequences dramatically. For motorhome or bus drivers the failure of a front tire can mean a significantly different outcome, as there is the real potential of a complete loss of control if the wrong response is taken. Here we know that a warning of initial air loss may provide enough time for a thoughtful response from the driver but even having a TPMS is not a 100% guarantee as there are failures that do not involve air loss. So the question then is what actions need to be taken in the first fraction of a second after a front tire comes apart? Thankfully there is a good instructional video of what a driver needs to do. Here is one from Michelin http://tinyurl.com/hjuyu4m and another similar video. Yes, the advice is not intuitive to the average driver but it can work. It has been demonstrated numerous times that there is both proper and improper driver response to a tire failure. Sadly many drivers have ended up turning an inconvenience into a tragedy. A driver needs to stop and think about what to do and to take a moment - frequently - to help implant the correct response so it can become an automatic response. You do have plenty of time to think about this as you drive down the highway. I would suggest that if you spent as little as 10 seconds thinking about the correct response of maintaining control first then slowing down second rather than just stomping on the brakes just once an hour every hour when driving you might find that the action might become automatic. We all know that practice and repetition can make athletes better at their "game" well in this case practice, at least in thought, can make you a safer driver in the "job" of getting yourself and family safely to your destination a reality.
Fighting The Chinese Menace... Where Rubber Meets RoadI'm currently processing claims paperwork for Carlisle tires, having joined the ranks of owners who've suffered blowouts running on Carlisles (they came with my 2011 Roadmaster 2000-1 dolly). We had two blowouts in six months, perfectly-maintained new Carlisle tires that were kept indoors. Along with contacting the dolly and tire manufacturers, I've filed a complaint against Carlisle with the NHTSA. Evidence suggests it is an unsafe tire, my experience affirms that conclusion. A friend is doing research for tire replacement on their trailer, sent me the following excellent link that explains DOT codes and lists American-made tires. http://www.americanmadetires.com/where-tires-are-made.html Our independent searching has come to the same conclusion: Goodyear Marathon. But, there is a fly in the ointment: at present, there are still failure-prone Marathons that were made in China out there, being sold. They are currently being made domestically, reportedly with higher reliability; but, it's hard to find the American ones. In the interim, I had to settle for Karrier Loadstar, which owners report enjoys good operating safety and reliability, even though... you guessed, it's made in China.