Well, what “they” say is true. It doesn’t matter how many miles your rig’s tires have on them. It doesn’t matter that you’ve kept them properly inflated and had them rotated and balanced regularly. AGE does make a difference with tires! We experienced a BLOW OUT!
Our Airstream’s tires were replaced by the previous owner in 2015—although the date code on the tires was 2014—making them 9-year-old tires. We were in the right lane of a South Dakota highway heading toward North Dakota when we heard a LOUD pop and the Airstream started to shimmy. Carl checked the mirrors immediately and saw debris flying, so he calmly and quickly slowed and stopped in the emergency lane. The back tire on the passenger side was shredded and split open, the Airstream’s banana wrap underbelly was damaged, a small storage compartment door was ripped off, and there were a few scratch marks on the exterior of the Airstream itself. Carl’s DIY mudflap was bent back but probably helped minimize the damage.
Luckily, our spare was in good condition, and Carl made quick work of changing out the tire while Karen collected the storage door down the road.
Then the REAL fun began! Carl got it in his brain that the size of the tires were LT225/65r16, so we were on the hunt for this size. We first called Discount Tire in Billings, Montana (the closest one to us in the direction we were heading). We would have had to change our route if we went there, but we were informed by Discount Tire that LT225/65r16 tires would need to be ordered because “65’s” are being phased out. Yikes! The technician recommended we try LT225/75r16 and gave us the measurements. We also called Walmart and Costco in Bismarck and, not surprisingly, they did not have that size either. And it seems (to Karen, anyway) that LTs are not that easy to find (stands for light truck – we need this type because of the weight of the Airstream). As Carl was driving, she checked online for this tire size, and her frustration levels rose!
Then… lo and behold… Carl just happened to double-check the Airstream tire size once we got set up at Parkhurst Campground in Jamestown, ND and discovered he had the size WRONG! Our Airstream was already “wearing” LT225/75r16 tires—a much easier size to find. He immediately called Discount Tire in Billings, and they put 4 tires on hold for us.
However, we really didn’t want to change our route and, since we were heading toward Bismarck, we decided to give the stores there another try. We stopped at Sam’s Club and Walmart to no avail. Then Karen called NW Tire – NOPE. But she just happened to notice another tire store, OK Tire Store, on our way to Sam’s Club. She called them, and they had 4 LT225/75r16 tires (Firestone Transforce HT2) just sitting there waiting for us and they could get to us after lunch. We were able to drop the Airstream there to run a couple of errands, then we were back by 1:00pm, rehitched, and pulled into their garage.
THANK YOU OK Tire Store in Bismarck, ND! We love Discount Tire, but we did not want to change our route (Carl called them to let them know we didn’t need the tires).
So, rule number 1 – know your tire size!
Another rule number 1 – change your RV tires after 5-7 years regardless of mileage.
And a final rule number 1 – stay calm. All will be well.
New “shoes” for the Airstream and lessons learned.