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tire lifespan and year markings

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I didn't find a topic on this (sorry if I missed it, if so please let me know).  I've heard that RV tires only last 5 years, even if they haven't reached their mileage limit.   I've also heard that there are markings on the tires which will tell you their manufacture date.  If 5 years is the tires' lifespan, is that from the date on the tires?  Thanks-  

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The 4 digit date code on the tire gives the week and year the tire was manufactured and that begins the countdown on it's lifespan.  For example, a tire with a date code of 1016 was made during the 10th week of 2016.

5 years is somewhat pessimistic, I've used 7 years as the effective life.  A lot depends on the conditions the tire has been exposed to, ultraviolet rays from the sun and ozone in the air attack rubber, while having it in motion releases compounds that fight deteriorization.

Here's a reference that explains all of the tire codes:

How To Read A Tire Sidewall

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I agree with Lou. I target 7 years for life usage. One time when I knew I'd be on the road in challenging road conditions, at the 7 year mark - and thus elected to replace at about 6 1/2 years. (6 out of 8 of our tires. As we'd had to replace two out of our 8, from a pot hole impact causing a belt to break, and another to slip. So they were replaced early.)

I recommend using common sense. If you were to say buy a coach with tires that were 3-4 years of age - no way you'd know the history of those specific tires. Me? At that age, I'd replace. Who knows if they'd kept PSI where it belonged. Or had had impacts from road debris, curbs, potholes - etc.... 

Sure at that age, you could pay to have them unmounted, inspected but a 'qualified' tire professional. Remounted/balanced, and still have a bit of uncertainty. 

"Qualified" is the 'uncertainty' part... Very few shops have tire professionals with Xray vision. No way they can see a slipping cord, or broken for that matter - unless they have obvious (And they don't always have this...) visibility of damage. (Bulge, bump, indentation.)

Only the original owner of a set of tires, can know what duty/damage causing potential - a set of tires have seen...

Play it safe... is a prudent approach:)! (YEP! Expensive too...),

Smitty

 

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Both of these are very good responses, but I'd add just a little bit more to the conversation. If you check out the tire warranty by the manufacturer you will find that all of them have a time limit and that is because they know that tires begin to break down even if they are never mounted on a wheel, eventually. With the manufacturers & tires that I am familiar with the warranty ends at between 7 & 10 years.

That warranty in theory begins on the date of sale, but there are restrictions there as well so it is best to always check the manufacturer dates on new tires when installed and I never accept any with a date code that is more than 3 months old for an RV and 6 months for an automobile. The reason for the difference is that with my automobile tires there are enough miles put on in less than the warranty period to exceed the mileage guarantee and they are replaced before that time runs out. RV tires nearly always get replaced due to age.

When you buy a tire new there are things that you can do to impact the tire life such as careful maintenance of proper inflation at all times, storage where tires will be kept dry and out of sun, kept on protective pads when on concrete for extended periods, and avoiding damage when driving from rocks, potholes, and other harmful situations. If the tire is overloaded or not properly maintained it should be replaced sooner. A tire blowing out at highway speeds can cause severe damage to the RV it is carrying. Use of a tire inflation monitor on them will help but nothing can prevent this when a tire is damaged. Since we have gone back to part-time and our RV is inside when not actually in use, I do now run the tires to the extreme limit of the warranty time period but I also check them for proper inflation monthly, even when it is not in use. 

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There is a lot (too much) speculation on tire longevity.  Have been reading every comment under the sun about avoiding all Chinese manufactured tires (believe they all are Chinese except one specific Goodyear brand).  Like the five years or less rule of thumb, even when some would to push that to seven years.  Getting-seeing pictures of every horror story blowout tire that falls apart and shreds the whole tire wheel well along with the tire.  Just try to be smart with date codes and national road hazard and national warranty (which is always limited).  Prefer to buy tires from high volume companies like TIRERACK online, or local FIRESTONE or GOODYEAR places.  Would even consider WALMART as long as it is a name brand tire. Costs are just crazy, with even a single tire creeping up in cost to $50 to $100 including all mounting and balance and stems. 

There is a lot of weight on these tires (10000 pounds divided by four).  Can not buy-believe into the TPMS sensor system, when you should just check pressure weekly.  The TPMS system has to update itself every half hour at least, and many do not update (to cause confusion false readings); with sensors failing to work its another thing to have problems with at $200 to $500.  Just measure them and eyeball the tires often.

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I'll add a couple of things here:

Passenger car tires and Light truck tires are all rated by the manufacturers to be good up to 120 mph.  Special Trailer tires (Whose size starts with ST instead of P or LT) are only rated for 65 mph.  In some cases, only 55mph.  So if you buy a used trailer with ST tires on it, and you have no way to know if the idiot who owned it before you was dragging it around on the Interstates at 75 or 80 mph, that's reason enough right there to replace all the tires with new ones, regardless of the date code or the tread remaining.

As far as all trailer tires but one Goodyear model being made in China.  Well, Maxiss is a Taiwanese company.  I won't argue over whether Taiwan is or isn't "China", but I'd sure rather have a tire from there than from mainland China.

As for TPMS sensors, checking the air every day doesn't protect you from a leak caused by road debris you pick up while you are driving.  Lots of reports of flat trailer tires catching on fire as they are driven down the road, sometimes spreading to the trailer - or the toad! - and destroying it.  Even if there isn't a fire, if your trailer has two tires per side, and one goes flat, the other tire is suddenly carrying twice the load it was handling before, probably way more than is safe or good for it.  Experts recommend replacing both tires on a side when that happens.  So TPMS is cheap insurance, as far as I'm concerned.

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I would at least start inspecting the tires at the 5-year age, if not sooner.

The tires on our rig were 5 years old.  Our intention this year was to move the front tires to the outside duals (because they needed to be replaced) and buy new front tires.  Then next year, buy 4 rear tires.  However, upon inspection, we realized that the front tires needed to be replaced, so our plan went up in smoke.  We ended up buying 6 new tires...ouch!

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1 hour ago, LindaH said:

I would at least start inspecting the tires at the 5-year age, if not sooner.

The tires on our rig were 5 years old.  Our intention this year was to move the front tires to the outside duals (because they needed to be replaced) and buy new front tires.  Then next year, buy 4 rear tires.  However, upon inspection, we realized that the front tires needed to be replaced, so our plan went up in smoke.  We ended up buying 6 new tires...ouch!

Rear dual tires need to be exactly matched in circumference with it's mate, or they'll scrub the pavement as you drive down the road.  A difference as small as 1/4 inch in diameter can cause increased tire wear between dual tires, or damage to the rear axle differential if the difference is from one side to the other.

Although RVs aren't driven nearly as far as commercial trucks, the effects of mismatched dual tires are the same:

https://www.truckinginfo.com/149929/mismatched-duals

Edited by Lou Schneider

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30 minutes ago, Lou Schneider said:

Although RVs aren't driven nearly as far as commercial trucks, the effects of mismatched dual tires are the same:

Tires are far less costly than repairs are. While a trailer doesn't have the driven axle to be concerned about, a neighbor of ours had a rear tire on the travel trailer blow in heavy, high-speed traffic and the other on that side failed before they could get off of the road. The result was that the trailer was totaled by the insurance. 

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The Maxxis 8008 ST tires I had were manufactured in Thailand. The Kumho radial ST tires I had were manufactured in Korea. The Kumho ST tires were speed rated at 99 MPH (Q speed rating). My current Carlyle ST tires are speed rated at 81 MPH.

Warranty terms vary for ST tires.

Goodyear 

Quote

Any new Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly highway radial auto, radial light truck tire or Special Trailer (ST) tire, covered by this policy, removed from service due to a covered warranty condition during the first 2/32" of usable tread or twelve months from date of purchase, whichever comes first, will be replaced with a comparable new Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly tire at no charge, including mounting and balancing. (Without proof of purchase the date of manufacture will be used to determine eligibility.)

Maxxis 

Quote

Subject to the limitations contained in this Limited Warranty, your new Maxxis tires are
warranted under this Limited Warranty against failures due to defective materials and
workmanship for a period of six years from the date of manufacture.

Carlyle 

Quote

This Warranty remains in effect for a period of two years from the date the tire or wheel was purchased

 

Edited by trailertraveler

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Some manufacturers use cheap, Chinese tires on their RVs.  Some are so cheaply built that the tires and axles are barely rated for the empty weight of the RV.  You should avoid   buying an RV with either or both of those limitations.

Assuming your tires are suitable for the load, there are still other considerations limiting tire life.  In some cases tires can indeed be safely used for 7-10 years from the date of manufacture.  Eventually regardless of mileage oxidation will kill them.  Compounds are built into the tire to delay oxidative damage.  Those compounds work towards the tire surface due to heat and flexing when used.  When not used for prolonged periods of time, oxidation can occur at a rapid rate.  I had a spare tire under my pickup truck for 4 years.  I decided to put it into rotation.  It looked new but as soon as it was stressed by driving, cracks developed all over the surface of the tire.

If you do not use your RV on a regular basis, the tires will deteriorate rapidly.  Some RVers have covers for their tires and use them when the RV is stored or they are staying a long time in one area.  That might help a little in preventing damage from the sun but oxidation is still going to occur.  Some people use tire black treatments.  Most are petroleum based and can do more damage than good.  The coatings can make it harder to see the cracks and damage.  Aerospace 303 probably works, but it is necessary to thoroughly clean both tire surfaces and to cover every square inch and the tires need to be recoated on a fairly frequent schedule.

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