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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are my tires too old?

 How old is too old ?  The guy may have a lot of "life experience" and be older than the normal rider can yo say with certanty he is too old to be riding a bike?

After reading my posts on the benefit of using white tire covers, a reader noted my comment on having tires that were 7 years old on my coach. He thought I was not practicing good preventive maintenance as he had heard that all RV tires should be replaced by 6 years "no matter what".

I offered that the recommendation on the max age of a tire on an RV is not as clear cut as some would believe.

According to this RV tire guide from Michelin they recommend annual tire inspection by a qualified tire dealer after 5 years but replace at 10.

I have seen posts such as this on RV forums " The Michelin RV Tire Guide specifically says  that  tires may be good for  up to 10 years, but  recommends that they should be thoroughly inspected annually, especially after five years.  This same information is summarized in the Michelin TSB on Service Life for RV Tires:
The Michelin Truck & RV Tire Warranty is for the life of the original tread, not a fixed number of years, and starts on the purchase date .Sidewall date is used only if you have no sales invoice.
Note, however, that passenger and light truck tires may have different parameters. If your motorhome uses 16" tires, I would apply the passenger & light truck recommendations.
That said, I will continue to replace my tires at the seven year mark. Far too much risk of a blow out beyond that point.  The risk of body damage or accident is just too great for me

Now I have not been able to confirm every statement about tire life that people post on different forums. The above examples are from Michelin and are about tires on cars, trucks and motorhomes. There are those that say for RV trailer application 3 to 5 years is a maximum.

Here is a good editorial from a trade publication on the topic

Clearly there is no simple answer. As a tire engineer I can tell you that there are just too many variables that would need to be considered before a simple xx months max type answer can be provided.

Some variables would include time spent exposed to direct sunlight, time spent at temperatures above 80F, 100F,  120F, 140F or above. How much reserve load capacity (Load capability minus actual load)  for each tire. Amount of time spent at or below the minimum inflation needed to carry the actual tire load.

My tires have been in service since April 2008. I run 15 psi above what is needed for the actual individual tire load and the tires have never been lower than 8psi above the minimum inflation needed. The tires are always covered if I am parked for more than a day. I have not traveled where the temperature exceeded ever exceeded 90F. By training and experience I am a Forensic Tire Inspection Specialist so am fully qualified to do internal and external tire inspections.

I will be replacing my two front tires next Spring and two additional tires each year there after.  BUT this does not mean you should not be replacing your tires when they are less than 10 or 8 or even 5 years as the "life experience" of your tires is different.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

TPMS Batteries

Many have smartly made the move to add a Tire Pressure Monitor System to their RV. While TPMS will not eliminate 100% of the possibilities of having tire failure they can eliminate many "Blowouts" as they can provide warning of air loss. Many times giving the driver an opportunity to pull over in a safe location and to avoid destroying an otherwise potentially repairable tire.

One issue with TPMS is battery replacement and battery life. As we all know from personal experience it is almost impossible to accurately predict when a battery will "die". While we might not be able to predict the "when", there are steps that can be taken with external sensors to extend the life of the batteries and possibly prevent having a battery fail and leak and damage the sensor.

When I was shopping for an External Sensor TPMS to buy,  I selected TireTraker. I used the selection criteria I outlined in THIS post.

 The user replaceable
 low cost batteries were a major consideration.

Now I am not a full timer so my RV is parked for weeks at a time and for months over the Winter here in Ohio. Now while the "Standby" mode of the sensor only draws 500nA so the "life" is not draining out very fast but there is still the potential for the battery to fail and corrosive chemicals to leak out and damaging the sensor. Remember your battery drain rate may be different.

Here is a suggestion.

Get one of those pill boxes and place a battery from your sensor in each section. I have six sensors so I have space for a new sensor battery as a back-up to the others.

Next label each sensor with the position it is associated with. This will eliminate the need to re-calibrate the sensors when you place them back on your RV.

This storage approach prevents the metal batteries from shorting out against each other too.

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