So you're headed on a trip, taking the boat out for a cruise, or pulling other tools and toys with your trailer? As you plan for this adventure, don't forget about your trailer tires and making sure they are ready for the long haul. We at Cedar Rapids Tire care about your safety and here you will find a plethora of helpful trailer tire safety facts, tips, and information to get the most out of your own trailer tires. Whether it's getting the most out of your current trailer tires or how to buy the correct replacements, Cedar Rapids Tire is here to help!
As we begin this trailer tire discussion, it's important to begin any conversation with the fact that not all trailer tire problems are immediately visible. Trailer tires may be worn out, even though they still have plenty of tread left. This is because trailer tires carry a lot of weight, even when not in use. It is actually better for trailer tires to be rolling down the road than sitting still.
During actual use, trailer tires release lubricants that are beneficial to a tire's life. Using the trailer tires often also helps prevent flat spots from developing on the tires. Trailer Tires sitting on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt for extended periods of time can develop flat spots that can lead to tread separation once you put them back into service, no matter the thickness of the tire's tread. Since your entire trailer's performance is based largely on the tires, it's a good idea to keep your trailer tires well maintained. Be sure to periodically inspect your tires, especially before and during long trips. A good time for this inspection is while checking tire inflation pressure.
Trailer Tire Inflation & Temperature
The main cause of trailer tire failure is underinflation. Check your trailer tires often, for proper inflation levels. Most trailer tire manufacturers recommend adjusting the air pressure to the maximum pounds per square inch (PSI) listed on the sidewall of the tire. If you inflate the tires to less than the maximum inflation level, you dramatically reduce the load carrying capacity of the trailer tire. The max load listed on the sidewall is only true when the trailer tire is inflated with the recommended maximum air pressure also listed.
Trailer Tires are not impervious to air loss; in fact, the rule of thumb for air loss is that for every 10° Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your trailer tire's inflation pressure will change approximately 1 PSI (increase with higher temperatures and decrease with lower air temperature). This element is especially important with boat trailer tires, because in most parts of North America, the difference between average summer and winter temperatures is about -50° Fahrenheit, which results in a potential "loss" of about 5 psi as winter's temperatures set in. A 5 psi "loss" is enough to sacrifice load capacity, handling, traction, and durability for your trailer tires. Additionally, the difference between cold nighttime temperatures and hot daytime temperatures in most parts of the country is about 20° Fahrenheit. This means that after setting tire pressures first thing in the morning, the trailer's tire pressure will be almost 2 psi higher when measured in the afternoon. While that is expected, the potential problem occurs when you set the trailer tire pressures in the heat of an afternoon, while the "cold" trailer tire pressure could be 2 psi low the following morning.
So again, check the air pressure in your trailer tires periodically to assure that the influences of time, changes in ambient temperatures, or small tread punctures have not caused a change in your trailer tire's air pressure. Remember, a drop in air pressure could cause the tire to become overloaded, leading to excessive heat build up. Trailer tires that are under-inflated, even for a short period of time, may suffer internal damage.
The Rubber Manufacturing Association (RMA) states that a tire used at less than 80% of the maximum inflation could cause damage to trailer tires. Run a hand across the tread of the tire, to check for excessive feathering. Tire feathering is where each tread block has a distinct raised edge caused by uneven wear. Tire feathering is more typical of trailer tires on a tow vehicle, and is an early sign of an axle alignment problem, bad bearings, or possibly loose spindle nuts and may require more attention.
Trailer Tire Cracks & Bulging
Along with the air pressure and tread characteristics, it is also very important to check for cracks in your trailer tires. If the cracks are more than 2/32 inch deep, the trailer tire should be replaced immediately. Check the sidewall for bulges that are indicative of carcass (cord) failure or impact break, while also verifying that the valve stem and cap are in good shape. An old, cracked valve stem can break off, leading to a sudden loss of pressure and a potential hazardous situation for the driver and other traffic.
If one trailer tire fails, the remaining trailer tires will have to suddenly compensate by supporting the increased load the failed tire was carrying. This sudden increase of weight may overload the other trailer tires, causing a chain reaction blowout or other internal damage. If you have experienced a tire blowout, make sure you check the other tires for damage and/or take your trailer tires to a local tire shop for evaluation.
Trailer Tire Life Span & Replacement
High speed towing in hot conditions degrades trailer tires significantly. As heat builds up during driving, the tire's internal structure starts to breakdown, compromising the strength of the tire. It is recommended to not exceed 60 miles per hour (MPH) while towing a trailer. 3 to 5 years of service is the average life expectancy of a Trailer Tire. After three years of use you should consider replacing your trailer tires with new, even if the tires have adequate tread depth left. After five years of service, trailer tires are considered worn out and should be replaced.
When replacing trailer tires, it's a good idea to replace all of your trailer tires at once to ensure your trailer tows properly, but if you're not buying a complete set, make sure you purchase individual tires that match the others on your trailer.Also make sure your trailer tires are "ST" specially designed for trailers. ST or Special Trailer service tires are stiffer than the radial tires found on most cars and trucks. This stiffness helps to protect against trailer sway and these types of tires can easily be provided to you through Cedar Rapids Tire.
Cleaning & Storing Trailer Tires
If you are storing your trailer for an extended period, it is always best that you store the tires in a cool dry place with tire covers to protect your trailer tires from the harsh effects of the sun. Lifting and blocking the trailer just enough to get the weight off the tires and reducing air pressure for storage, can also increase the overall life of your trailer tires. Keep your tires clean by washing them with a soft scrub brush, mild soap and water. Use caution when selecting tire care products, and do not use any that contain alcohol or petroleum distillates, which can actually accelerate breakdown of the tire compound.
Cedar Rapids Tire hopes that these trailer tire safety facts and general tips have been informative and will assist you in a safer trailer towing season, in addition to helping you choose the correct tires for your trailer. Cedar Rapids Tire stocks a huge selection of individual and full sets of trailer tires at discount prices for most trailer applications. We are eager to help you stay safe and enjoy the tools and toys your towing! If you see trailer tires we do not have listed, please let us know. If you're not sure which tires to choose, please call one of our knowledgeable sales staff at 1-800-467-7325.
Don't forget, while you're here, we also stock tires for motorcycle, scooter, moped, ATV, lawn & garden, and industrial purposes. Cedar Rapids Tire has been servicing the United States with motorcycle, ATV, and specialty tires for over 15 years and we look forward to serving your ongoing tire needs.
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