Our 25 foot 2014 Airstream Flying Cloud had the original Goodyear Marathon tires on it. This much-maligned tire has generated many posts on the airstream forum, http://www.airforums.com. We certainly had our issues with our first Airstream, a great 2005 30′ Classic, but I now realize those tires were 8 years old at the time we bought the trailer. All of the tires blew, one taking out the sewer line. Through those experiences, I have learned that 4-5 years is as long as trailer tires should be used. They will rarely wear out because you don’t ordinarily drive enough miles to wear out. As one tire salesman told us, tires are a petroleum product. If you don’t pull the trailer regularly, the chemicals settle out in the tire, and they lose their strength. Most trailers sit all winter and for extended periods in the summer.
Most experienced Airstream people recommend going from a 15-inch tire to a 16-inch Michelin LT tire, which has a great record, but Martha Jean rejected a larger tire. That tire requires replacing the wheels, so it gets a bit expensive, but there is little argument about it being a great choice. For a while Michelin made a 15″ LT tire, and I bought one as a spare last year. For some reason they changed it to an LTX, which is not strong enough.
I have had great luck with this set of Goodyear Marathons for 5 years, only blowing one tire, and our tire-monitoring system immediately alerted us. You can’t feel it like you would on your car or truck because the trailer’s axles are right next to each other, and you still have three tires working. In the last year or so Goodyear came out with the Goodyear Endurance, which is a much better tire. There has been a lot of discussion on the forum, and a number of people have put them on with good early results, so that’s what I bought yesterday.
I have worked with Settle Tire in Charlottesville before and like them, but there is nowhere to park a trailer in their crowded lot. I took the wheels off, two at a time, and took them in for the change. For safety sake, I used two bottle jacks in case one slipped. It’s a good thing to change tires every now and then so you get more comfortable with it. I couldn’t remember where to place the jack. Fortunately there is a big plaque pointing to the spot, but I had lay on my back looking for it. I had bought a new, larger bottle jack with a safety lock on it, but had to reread the directions to see how to release the lock. Putting heavy wheels back on and lining up the screws can be difficult, especially after doing four. It seemed easier for me to lift the tire from the top rather than lifting from the bottom. After getting the first two changed, I replaced them and jacked the other side and removed those wheels. When I drove up, they were great about coming out to help me unload and later reload the wheels. They said two of the tires were separating. I should have gone back to see what that looked like, but didn’t think about it until I was halfway home.
As I spun the last tire to tighten the lug nut, I noticed a gravely sound of the wheel turning. Did I get some gravel or sand in the hubs? I spun the wheel behind, which generated a similar sound. Geez, now what? I went to the other side, jacked it up and spun both wheels – similar sound. $$ rang in my tired head. Wheel bearings? Axles? Things I know nothing about. I did notice the shocks, which get a lot of discussion also. Bouncing is a big issue that leads to loosening screws and rivets and pillows going everywhere.
Later that evening it suddenly occurred to me what the sound was. I put Centramatic balancers on the wheels last fall. They have BB’s that circulate as the wheel moves, keeping the wheels in balance:} Whew! I think I’ll take a wheel off anyway just to be sure.
It’s a comforting feeling to have new and better tires with a higher speed rating. Although these are rated for 87 mph, the consensus is still to keep it at 65 mph. It would just be nice to keep up with the tractor-trailers on interstates. Going through big cities on interstates is gut-wrenching, and you have to be able to keep up. I am pretty conditioned to staying in the right-hand lane and taking my time, but the merging traffic can be an issue. Anyway, I can’t wait to get back out there. The plan for this year is for fishing the northeast and then on to Newfoundland.