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What happens when a trailer tire fails at speed?

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Anyone have a single axle loaded trailer tire go flat or separate at highway speed? If so, what happened?

Was it a partial separation or a complete catastrophic one like this?

DSC01766.JPG

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Partial separation but instant blowout on a tandem axle trailer weighing 12,000#. Not as much of a handful as a single axle blowout, but still allows some pucker factor on mountain roads in Colorado.

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Partial separation but instant blowout on a tandem axle trailer weighing 12,000#. Not as much of a handful as a single axle blowout, but still allows some pucker factor on mountain roads in Colorado.

Blowout was not too bad - single axle trailer, loaded heavy, pulled by K1500 chevy.

Tire carcass did rip up fender on trailer pretty good.

I think it helps a lot to have a heavier tow vehicle when this stuff happens.

BB

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Thanks. I have no idea what got me thinking about it, perhaps other than a mental reminder that I really, really need to buy a spare for our trailer.

BTW if you're curious, that was a perfectly good PASSENGER CAR TIRE ON A PASSENGER CAR that morning, something happened late afternoon when crapped the sheets at approximately 80 mph. Thanks to low center of gravity and a very well set up machine, was completely uneventful as I got out of the gas and drifted off to the shoulder where I had to change the tire on 1.2 mile long bridge.

Glad it was on the passenger's side, if it were on the driver's side I'd have kept going till I got off the bridge. A $100 rim isn't worth dying for. I don't recall if that was in the days when I could afford to spend $140 on a tire or if it was when I couldn't afford a set of used tires or somewhere in between. I'm guessing it was the latter.

Edited by Smacaroni

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I've lost many trailer tires over the years.. sometimes they are complete separation like the picture you posted. Once I had the tread disappear and what was left looked like a large inner tube. That hit the inside of the trailer fender and then it exploded. Blowouts, flats, etc etc etc.

Trailer tires suck lol

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I take it this was on a commercial trailer, not your average bike hauler trailer? I'd hope your average joe only loses one trailer tire in a lifetime.

If I'm not mistaken, the "inner tube" is also a tread separation, but it separates at the ply, not the sidewall.

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+1 on the "suitable" tow vehicle.

and if you're doing 80 with a trailer expect to have a higher risk of ANYTHING happening. proper tire pressure, tire rating matched to the load it's trying to carry, and care will keep you from having a lot of failures. I have only had 3 in my lifetime, and all three were due to really poor quality tires (Chinese brand) Since then, I have bitten the bullet and spent the extra money on Goodyear/BFG/etc versus Jinguan or something of the like.

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I am in the market for a trailer and I was looking at single axle. I think now I will get 2 axle for that reason.

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Let me clarify, the tire in the photo was a passenger car tire on a passenger car, right rear, no trailer.

The only indication something was amiss was a sound similar to a piece of paper flapping in the wind. At the time, I thought a receipt had fallen out of my pocket or dash (I frequently put gas receipts in the center console pocket till I have a moment to calculate my gas mileage) and had been slammed in the door. No vibration, no pull, nothing other than the sound. I posted the photo for demonstration of what I mean by total failure. I'll be the one following a semi "drafting" to maximize the mileage on my rig this year. IIRC, it gets about 13 mpg unloaded, I have no idea what it'll get with a three quarter ton trailer, four occupants and gear, but I know it won't be the 22-24 mpg we're used to.

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BTW if you're curious, that was a perfectly good tire that morning, something happened late afternoon when crapped the sheets at approximately 80 mph.

I've towed 80k miles or so over the last 8 years. Never had a blowout, perhaps because I never drive 80, esp on those crappy little undersized trailer tires.

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55mph on a single axle. I was way overloaded, really light tow rig. Trailer was all over the place. Got lucky, thrashed the wheel really bad.

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I've lost many trailer tires over the years.. sometimes they are complete separation like the picture you posted. Once I had the tread disappear and what was left looked like a large inner tube. That hit the inside of the trailer fender and then it exploded. Blowouts, flats, etc etc etc.

Trailer tires suck lol

I hate those... very dangerous, they'll often still hold air pressure and can blow at any moment. I know a guy who is deaf in one ear and lost an eye from a truck tire separation that blew in his face while he was trying to pull the valve core to let the pressure out.

I'd say 90+ % of catastrophic tire failures are due to operator error, most tires are really well made these days and will almost never fail if maintained properly. Under pressure is probably the biggest cause, overloading will do it too, or in the case of those tiny little 12" trailer tires... overspeed. People dragging those down the road at 75 or 80mph never stop and think about the tires being rated at 60 or 65.

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I'd say 90+ % of catastrophic tire failures are due to operator error, most tires are really well made these days and will almost never fail if maintained properly. Under pressure is probably the biggest cause, overloading will do it too, or in the case of those tiny little 12" trailer tires... overspeed. People dragging those down the road at 75 or 80mph never stop and think about the tires being rated at 60 or 65.

Add to that old, dry rotted cracked tires....which is also operator error-failure to perform an adequate pre-trip inspection.

Most trailer tires rot before they wear out. Not very often you see a trailer with bald tires on it.....

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55mph on a single axle. I was way overloaded, really light tow rig. Trailer was all over the place. Got lucky, thrashed the wheel really bad.
How much is way overloaded? The Carry-On trailers (one step above harbor freight, good but not great) are rated at 2,000lbs gross. Or do you mean overloaded for combined vehicle weight? I had a "wag the dog" issue when one of the springs popped out of the C-shaped piece of steel that was meant to retain it. A very, very long, slow drive home, IIRC 40% longer than normal.

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Our dual axle fifth wheel had two of the tires on one side come apart at the same time, tore a hole right through the floor

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I have a Raptor Toy hauler and have had two tires explode, the first time it just completely came a part and fortunately, the tread wrapped around the axle without tearing too much up. The tires from the factory were junk and I ended up replacing them all.

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How much is way overloaded? The Carry-On trailers (one step above harbor freight, good but not great) are rated at 2,000lbs gross. Or do you mean overloaded for combined vehicle weight? I had a "wag the dog" issue when one of the springs popped out of the C-shaped piece of steel that was meant to retain it. A very, very long, slow drive home, IIRC 40% longer than normal.

I had a 16' single axel 1969 camper trailer. That thing was so stinking heavy. They were built to last back then, big frame and heavy duty walls. Then throw all our camping gear and I jammed 2 dirtbikes inside the trailer:bonk: With the tires at max psi they still looked flat. I would have loved to throw it on a scale, but never did. It pulled as hard as my 21 ft toyhauler.

Lotts of tail waggin the dog also, towed it with an Isuzu Rodeo for one summer. Surpirsed the tranny held.

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dual axle trailer, had a tire blowout and it ripped the fender clean off the trailer. Lost somewhere along I-70 in Colorado. Put on the spare that had been sitting on the tongue of the trailer in the sun/ozone for 6 years. 6 months later, that spare blew out and took the replacement fender clean off the trailer somewhere along I-70 in Missouri. At $100 a fender, that was getting pricey. So we replaced all the tires with new ones.

Trailer is similar to this one.

black7X14(side).jpg

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Perfect.

At least I don't have to worry about losing a fender on our current trailer to a tire. If it takes the 13 ga. welded on fender off, I think changing the tire would be the least of my worries.

I'm also going to find a good spot to mount the spare so it's not getting as much sun as the others. I had a spare tire fail after swapping out the flat tire twice, both times due to neglect to check the air pressure periodically.

I still don't check that, instead, I keep a $9 DC compressor in the car instead.

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