Now remember we are very new to camping with a travel trailer so all the new experiences we encounter, we are sharing with you. On a recent trip when we were supposed to meet up with some other family members who also have a camper, they had a blow out on their 5th wheel camper and were stranded on the side of the road. After several phone calls and a couple of hours lost they were back on the road with a new tire and a lesson they were about to share with us. Trailer tires may look great, but the damage happens from the inside out many times.
Turns out, all tires have a date code stamped into the side of the tire and this is a 4 digit numeric code indicating the week and year a tire was produced, not installed on a vehicle, but produced. Their tread was in great shape so they were under the assumption that their tires were good and they were unaware of the date stamp and short life term of a trailer tire. Their tires it turns out were 4-5 years old, about a year or two beyond the expected service life of a travel trailers tire even if the tread is good.
Learning this info, I started crawling around our tires on our trailer as we had just bought it used a couple months ago and the model year was a 2011. Turns out we had a mix and mismatch of tires, varied date codes from 1 to 3 years old, and we even had 3 load range “E” very heavy duty tires on three of the axles, and one light weigh load range “C” tire on one hub. Not the greatest of scenarios and I sure wasn’t happy remembering the service department stating they had checked out everything on the trailer as a pre-delivery inspection. Now of course on our ride home I was very anxious about the tires, just having experienced someone else in our group having a blow out and doing very minimal damage to their fender-well area. They were told of stories of flooring being ripped out, kitchen cabinets being destroyed and plumbing and gas lines being damaged from tires and tread pieces ripping through the floor, as they come apart and continue down the road til one has a chance to get over to the shoulder safely.
I did a lot of reading up on this tire date subject and life expectancy of a trailers tire and it seems to be on the cautious side of two years to the accepted side of 3 years, and the push your limit side of 4 years. Taking the average of several tire sites and manufacturer suggestions, it seems that 3 years was the general accepted life expectancy of a tire. Also as a little side note, one article said that even with fresh tires, and you have a blow out on one side, its a good practice to replace both tires on that one side, as the tire which didn’t fail was subjected to weights above the rating it was designed to handle and could have been damaged as well. I had ours all replaced with brand new load range “E” tires which are more than enough for our camper, actually a bit of an overkill, but dragging it all over the state of Florida it has been handling the road wonderfully with no sway, and I dont hold my breath every time I hit a pothole waiting for that one light weight and out of date tire to explode and destroy the underside of our trailer. There is a price I am willing to pay for peace of mind, and 4 new tires are the price., and I expect to replace them in 3 years even if the tread looks good. Check your date codes and save a huge repair bill, the cost of 4 new tires was only a bit less than $500 all said and done. Way cheaper than a road service call if you dont have a roadside assistance plan, and even cheaper than repairing your camper’s potential damage from a tire failure.
Tom & Tracie