Horse Trailer Tire Hints -
Buying Your Trailer Tires
You're driving down the road on a beautiful morning. Everything is hunky dory, when all of a sudden you hear a bang. A rear tire on your trailer just blew. What do you do?
Take your foot off the gas pedal and find a safe place to pull over. Try not to use your brake, if possible. Try to find a safe place well off the side of the road. If you have rubber torsion suspension, the remaining tires will keep the trailer level until you can get to a service station or safe place to change the tire, Check the tire and any damage to the fender or trailer. Travel slowly and safely while using your warning lights. To change a tire, you should have a Trailer-Aid jack, tire wrench, and triangles or flares. If you have a trailer that has drop leaf suspension, you will need to change the tire at the site.
How dangerous is a blown tire? All incidents that happen to a horse
trailer out on the open road are dangerous, but one blown tire will
not usually result in serious or fatal results. It is, however, a big
inconvenience and puts you in a precarious situation of having to maneuver
your rig to the side of the road where you could be stuck for some time.
What causes a tire to blow? Age, wear, faulty tires, weight overload (unlevel trailers), incorrect/mismatched tires, but most frequently, inadequate inflation.
AGE/DRY ROT: A tire deteriorates with age even
if you aren't using your trailer. Sitting in the sun for long periods
causes the side walls to deteriorate and form small cracks in the rubber.
This can be easily spotted. Check your tires periodically for dry rot.
If you are buying new tires, be sure they haven't been sitting on the
distributer's shelf for the last two or three years. Always check the
manufacturers code on the tire - it will include the date the tires
WEAR: When the tread gets too thin, the tires should be replaced. But most horse trailer owners do not use their trailer enough to wear out the tires. But also check for uneven wear, which could be caused by bent axles or improper inflation.
FAULTY TIRES: Believe it or not, tires can often be faulty. Even some notable brand names have had trailer tires separate. Before choosing a brand, it's a good idea to do some research about trailer tires and to check with the DOT (Department of Transportation) Early Warning Reporting. They list a number of complaints and incidents that others have reported.
WEIGHT OVERLOAD: Tires have a limit as to how much weight load they can handle safely. This rating is on the tire. All four tires together should have the sum total weight rating that is equal to, or a bit greater than, the gross vehicle weight rating of the trailer. If the trailer is not level (all four tires equally holding the weight) you will overload the front or rear tires (and axle) and this will cause them to blow.
INCORRECT/MISMATCHED TIRES: Never replace a tire with a different size and type. Radials are the tire of choice rather than bias/car tires. Radial tires are constructed differently and do not flatten under weight. The benefits are that they track better, last longer, run cooler, and use fuel more efficiently. Use "Special Trailer" tires (ST) because they have greater resistance under heavy load and have a stiffer sidewall which can reduce lateral movement and sway. When purchasing trailer tires make sure you are buying the right type (ST) size, and weight rating.
IMPROPER INFLATION: Trailer tires should be filled to the maximum psi pressure rating (cold). This rating is on the side of the tire. Improperly inflated tires will cause uneven tire wear and affect maneuverability of the trailer. When they are fully inflated they flex less and ride cooler. You should always check the tire pressure before leaving on a trip and before returning. You're more apt to pick up something on the road rather than from your trailer sitting at your barn. Checking tire pressure is extremely important. Improper inflation is usually the cause for uneven tire wear.
One last important piece of advice: When hauling a horse trailer, it
is extremely important that your tow vehicle is adequate to tow the
loaded trailer. If you do have a blow out, an underrated tow vehicle
will not be able to handle the extra stress, and your chances of a major
accident are increased.