TIRES - Your horses' well-being is riding on your tires. Are you sure those tires are safe? If not, here is what you need to know:
- Replace your trailer tires every six years, even if they look new. After six years, the risk of tire failure becomes significant. Age deteriorates tires. Glues dry out. Chemical compounds change in the rubber. Higher quality tires last a somewhat longer, lower quality tires a little less. You do not need to guess their age. Each tire has a four number build date stamped into the tire. Example:  states that the manufacturer built the tire on the eleventh week of two thousand and nine.
The age is not related to the "sell" date so don't assume they are new. Trailer tires don't sell as often as auto and truck tires. If they sat on a distributor's shelf for a couple of years, the deterioration would still occur. Always check the build date or ask the salesperson their age before you purchase. Your question tells the salesperson you know your "stuff," so he or she is not likely to fudge the truth. Do the same when buying auto or truck tires.
- Replace tires that show uneven wear, an indicator that you have a bent axle or improperly inflated tires.
- Replace tires that show dry rot, indicated by the appearance of small cracks throughout the sidewall from exposure to the sun.
- Keep valve stem caps snug on all the tires. They prevent road grime from clogging the valve stem.
- Avoid using different tire brands on the same trailer. They will perform differently. Avoid using different types of tires on the same trailer such as radial tires (R) with light truck (LT) tires. Their design features have different functions. Never use different size tires on the same trailer. All of these scenarios will cause the trailer to move and sway.
- Use trailer tires with "ST" letters (special trailer) such as ST 22575R15. The design structure of trailer radial sidewalls is specific to trailer use.
- Inflate trailer tires to the maximum PSI (pounds per square inch). Fully inflated tires flex less, ride cooler, give better gas mileage, and last longer. Under-inflation is the main cause of blowouts and sway. Information stamped on the sidewall contains the Max PSI rating.
- Check air pressure before you leave the barn and before you return. The possibility of getting a flat on the road is greater than when the trailer is sitting at the barn. Be aware that a flat or partially inflated tire is not apparent by looking at it on a trailer with rubber torsion suspension – the adjacent tire will be supporting the flat tire and keeping the trailer level. If you’re not sure your trailer has rubber torsion suspension, look between the wheels. The absence of any springs or shackles indicates that you have it. It is on 99% of all horse trailers. Invest into a good tire pressure gauge or monitoring system.
- Trailer tires are not always readily available. Two tire failures out on the road are easily fixable with an extra spare.
- Currently, there are no trailer tires manufactured in the United States. If quality is a priority, check RV website forums under tires or ask someone who knows tires – you can even ask me.
For related information about buying horse trailers click this link.
Tom's Trailer Talk "Quick Tips" are provided by EquiSpirit Trailer Co.
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