A Near Disaster Because Of Utility Trailer Tires

TIRE GUYWhat You Need To Know About Utility Trailer Tires



Chris and Tammy are a young couple who love their weekends. They’re keen trail bikers, water-skiers and snow boarders and have three utility trailers. Tires, wheels and assorted maintenance cost them a lot of money.

The logistics associated with Chris and Tammy’s travels are extensive. In just two recent months, the young couple have traveled to New Mexico and Canada. They drive the trips and camp at locations, so the expenses incurred on these trips away are mostly fuel and maintenance.

Despite their mantra of paying for quality, Chris and Tammy have neglected their trailer tires. In fact, they aren’t getting what I would consider fair mileage from tires fitted to any of their vehicles.

Trip to the Snow

Our two intrepid snowboarders have a utility trailer they use to house all the snow gear they have. And, they have a lot of gear. They purchased a near-new, fully enclosed trailer from a friend and it’s invaluable. It’s used to store their snow equipment in the garage, as well as on the road, and it’s lockable for their security.

They’ve owned it for five years and it was (until recently) still running on the original tires.

Halfway home from Canada, in the middle of the night, they had to stop when one of the trailer tires failed. They were very lucky in hindsight, as Chris veered to the opposite site of the road when his truck started to handle differently. Fortunately, no vehicle was traveling toward them.

Close inspection revealed a trailer tire that had worn excessively. Chris carried a spare, so he tried to chanage it on the side of the road.

Jacks and Trailers

If you jack up any car or trailer, you need to make sure you’re on a flat, hard surface. With Tammy holding a fast-failing flashlight, Chris tried to jack up the trailer on the side of the sloping, dirt road. The jack slipped on the uneven, soft surface and gave Chris a real fright.

They had to call for assistance and it meant a long wait on a dark road until 3 a.m. To add to this, the other trailer tire was showing signs of excessive wear. It was then that Tammy realized that the spare tire was flat!

Your trailer tires don’t support the weight of your trailer and cargo. It’s the air pressure inside that supports the weight. Suitable air pressure will provide the handling, traction and durability you need. This was Chris and Tammy’s first mistake; they hadn’t checked the air pressure on the trailer. Ever!

They started to argue over the spare tire. Chris had had a small hole in the tread repaired some time ago. The repairer had done it very cheap, but it was obviously too cheap!

The Importance of Inflation Pressure

Yeah, I know what you’re saying. "Tireguy, you always nag about inflation pressure". Well, this near disaster, as well as the argument, would have never occurred had Chris or Tammy simply checked their air pressures.

Air is a gas, expanding when heated and contracting when cooled. For every 10° change in temperature, a tire's inflation pressure may change by 1 psi. It’s also best to have trailer tires elevated if they are left to stand for long periods, like this one.

Prior to Chris and Tammy's  purchase of the trailer, its previous owner had been using it to transport heavy construction equipment. The tires had extra plies to carry  those heavy loads but were not needed for the ski gear which is much lighter. It’s important to make sure your tires are correctly rated for the load.

(Read more about inflation pressure and trailers.)

Repairing Punctures

Any sharp object can cause a puncture; most are caused by small nails and screws. Repairs should be undertaken by a credentialed person and there are standards. You can read more on tire repairs here.

Chris had sworn off having tires repaired after this experience, but there are merits and savings to be had. The key is to ask the repairer if he is following the industry standards. Utility trailer tires, wheels and other personal property should be managed like any other expense. Make a plan, research the dealers and repairers and you'll make the right decisions. 


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