TIRES - Your horse’s well-being is riding on your tires. Do you know if those tires are safe? If not, here is what you need to know:
- Replace your trailer tires every six years, even if they look brand new. Age does a number on tires. Glues dry out. Chemical compounds change in the rubber. Higher quality tires might last a little longer, lower quality tires a little less. Either way, it's not worth the risk. After six years, the risk of tire failure becomes significant.
- Don’t guess their age. Know for sure.
It’s not difficult. Each tire has a build date stamped into the tire. It will be four numbers indicating the week and year manufactured. Example: 1109 means that the tire was manufactured the eleventh week of two thousand and nine – See illustration. Auto and truck tires sell day-in and day-out. Not true with trailer tires. They may have been on a distributor’s shelf for the last two years. Ask the salesman for the build date. Your question tells him you know your stuff, so he’s not likely to fudge the truth. Do the same when buying auto or truck tires.
- Replace tires if they show uneven wear – a result of bent axles or improper inflation.
- Replace if they show dry rot – small cracks throughout the sidewall.
- Keep stem caps on all the tires. They keep road grime out of the stem, preventing them from being damaged.
- Don’t use different tire brands on the same trailer. Don’t use different types of tires on the same trailer such as mixing truck tires with car tires. Don’t use different size tires on the same trailer. All of these situations cause the trailer to move around and/or sway.
- Use trailer tires with “ST” letters (special trailer) such as ST 22575R15. Trailer radial sidewalls are stronger to withstand their specific use on the road.
- Inflate trailer tires to the maximum PSI (pounds per square inch) which is stamped on the tire. Fully inflated tires flex less, ride cooler, give better gas mileage, and last longer. Under inflation is the main cause of blowouts.
- Check air pressure before you leave the barn and before you come back. You can’t see a flat tire on a trailer with rubber torsion suspension so check them with a tire gauge. If you don’t know what rubber torsion suspension is, assume you have it. It’s on 99% on all horse trailers. Invest into a good tire pressure gauge or monitoring system
- 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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