Trailer Tires: Avoiding Problems and Getting the Most Out of Your Trailer Tires

Trailer Tires: Avoiding Problems and Getting the Most Out of Your Trailer Tires

Neglected Trailer Tires can cause anything from a trip delay (getting stuck in the middle of nowhere) to a catastrophic failure.  Warning signals are quite different from your tow vehicle to your trailer.  If there is a tire on your tow vehicle that is grossly under inflated or out of balance you will feel it in the handling and feedback of your vehicle.  Your trailer will not give you as much feedback.  In most cases, you won’t feel a failing trailer tire until it’s too late.  Basic tire inspections and maintenance can stack the deck in your favor.  It only takes a few minutes before each use.  First thing: Knowledge!  Here are 3 tips that will get you the most out of your trailer tires and help avoid problems.

  1. Inflation:  Improper trailer tire inflation ranks as one of the most common causes of tire failure and premature tire wear problems.  Any air inflated tire will lose tire pressure over time.  Check your trailer tire pressure with a high quality tire pressure gauge before each use.  Be sure to check and set tire pressure with your tires cold.  “But, what tire pressure should I use?”  Take a look at the “Maximum Recommended Tire Pressure” on the sidewall of the tire.  Generally, for trailer tires a good “sweet spot” for a smooth ride is approximately 5 PSI less than maximum.  Don’t go less than 5 PSI from max.
    • Tire Tip 1: The Spare Tire – This can be the most important tire on your motorcycle trailer to safely complete a trip.  Don’t forget to check your spare along with the other tires.  It’s not a good feeling to find that your spare tire is flat or unusable when you need it!
    • Tire Tip 2: The Gauge – Keep your tire pressure gauge with you and if you have a long stay over on your trip recheck your tire pressure before you make the return trip.
  2. Tire Wear:  Know what to look for by looking at the tire tread wear.  Specific wear patterns occur due to over inflation, under inflation and out of balance tires.  Download our full Tire Wear Chart and keep it for reference with your trailer registration and owner’s manual.

    • Over Inflation – Excessive wear in the center of the tread.  An over inflated tire rides on the center of the tread causing premature tire wear and a harsh ride.
    • Under Inflation – Excessive wear on the outer edges of the tread.  An under inflated tire will run very hot and can eventually fail.  Under inflation is the most common problem in trailers!
    • Out of Balance – Cupped or scalloped tread wear that generally shows up as bald spots between the outside edges and center of the tread.  Cupping may also indicate bent suspension parts.
    • Even Tread Wear – Normal wear sign of properly balanced and properly inflated tires.
  3. Tire Age:  There is more to a tire than its tread.  Just because you see very little tread wear does not mean the tire has its full integrity.  Tires degrade over time even if they are not used and eventually become unsafe to use.  Inspect the sidewalls visually.  Look for any signs of cracking or dry rot.  If you see any signs of cracking in the side walls the tire needs to be replaced.  If you have any doubts, have it inspected by a reputable tire store, auto mechanic or authorized Kendon Trailer Dealer.
    • Tire Tip 3: The Tire Age Rule of Thumb – Regardless of tread wear, if your trailer tires are more than 8 years old replace them.

This type of basic tire inspection takes about five minutes.  That’s a small investment in time to address the largest known causes of failures in trailer tires.  Never take your trailer tires for granted.  They’ll do a great job for you with a little love and care.  Share this with any of your friends who have trailers.  Be safe.

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