Over the years we have owned five RV’s. First there was a small pop up, then a travel trailer, then a bigger travel trailer, a Type C motorhome and currently our Type A motorhome. I have always owned and driven a truck that is capable of towing a good size trailer. I don’t tow trailers as much as I used to, but just the nature of my business requires that I have a truck that can tow a trailer.

During a routine inspection of my truck I noticed the sidewalls of the tires had some cracking caused by too much exposure to the sun, and that the tread was just about down to the tread wear indicators. These were the original Michelin tires that came on the truck when it was new, and with over 65,000 miles on them I really can’t complain about replacing the tires.

When you are replacing the tires on a truck used for towing or hauling heavy loads an important consideration is the load range or rating of the tires. For light truck tires the load range lets you know the strength of the tire and the tires ability to hold air pressure. When I was growing up tire manufacturers referred to how many plies the tire had (the number of layers) to determine the load rating of the tire. The higher the ply rating the stronger the tire was and the more air pressure it could hold to support a heavier load. Nowadays they use an alphabetical rating to specify the load range of a light truck tire. The tire load ranges today don’t actually count the number of plies or layers in the tire, but the strength of the tire is comparable to the older ply ratings used years ago.

An easy way to compare today’s tire load ranges to the old ply rating system is to take the alphabetical load range designation of the tire and determine what number it is in the alphabet. For example if it is a D load range tire D is the fourth letter in the alphabet. Now multiply that by 2, so a D load range tire is equivalent in strength to an 8 ply tire. I have E load range tires, equivalent to a 10 ply tire, on my truck. The other important consideration is that the tires are inflated properly for the load they are carrying.

I personally like and use Michelin tires on my vehicles. I did some preliminary research on the Internet to see if there were any current sales for the type and size tires that were on my truck. Michelin was offering a $70.00 discount when you purchase four tires. I went to Sam’s Club to get the tires, but was told they were not in stock. The Sam’s Club employee told me they could order the tires and have them there in about three days.

I decided to try Sears first to see if the tires were in stock. The tire representative at Sears said they had the tires, but I noticed they were several dollars more than the price per tire that I got at Sam’s Club. I was told they would price match so I proceeded to ask about the $70.00 Michelin discount. The sales rep asked his manager and he agreed to give me the discount. When the sales rep totaled the sale it came to over $200 more than the Sam’s Club total figure for the same tires. I asked him how there could be that much difference for tires that are priced the same. When I looked at the printout I noticed it included a front end alignment and a road hazard insurance plan along with the new tires. I told the rep I wasn’t interested in a road hazard tire plan, and that there was nothing wrong with the front end alignment on my truck. He said the only way they would sell and warrant the tires was if they included the front end alignment. At this point I was a bit irate and told him to drop the tire alignment and road hazard plan and give me a new price. Then he said the $70 Michelin discount was based on the original price I was quoted and I would not get the discount on a new price quote. Needless to say I left and will probably never return to Sears, at least not to purchase tires.

When I returned home I found the same tires online and ended up saving about $20 per tire, after the shipping charges. When the tires get here I just need to have them mounted and balanced and I’ll be good to go for another 65,000 miles.

I always like to support our local economy, but when you have to deal with tires not in stock and higher prices for services you don’t want and/or need I will take my business elsewhere.

Keep in mind when you purchase tires for a truck that will be towing or hauling heavy loads you need to get tires that are rated for the load you will be hauling and properly inflate the tires for the load. If you doubt what the tire sales rep is telling you check the tire manufacturer load & inflation tables before purchasing the tires. If you question the price of the tires leave! You can always find them somewhere else at a fair price.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

We just launched our new Go for the RV Gold online RV training program. The 12 week RV training program material is delivered right to your computer, so you can learn about your RV in the comfort of your own home.

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  2. How old are the tires with cracking on the side walls. In the UK manufacturers advise that you should change tires after 5 years and that they shouldn’t be used after they are 7 years old regardless of how worn they are. This is a particular issue with travel trailers (caravans). Over here they do so little mileage that they are often to old when they have very little tread wear.

    You can tell the age of the tire from the DOT number. The last 4 digits are the week and month. For example 0209 is the second week of 2009. If you have a three digit number they are way too old.

    I’ve recently done a page on the issue here.

  3. Joe Loughry

    aside from who you support – cosco gives a free road hazzard coverage(it works as i have used it) sam’s may also. when you are out of town and you need a balance or tire work on the new purchase who do you call? ghost busters? you did not save any time and paid to have them put on, if the tire has a problem you have to ship it back and can only get local service – not very efficent if you travel often

  4. Frank & Jim

    You guys really don’t know anything about my shopping habits, or the way I support my local community and economy, except what you read in a one page article that I wrote. I live in a very rural community that consists of nothing more than mom and pop stores and shops. This is where we do our day to day shopping when the retailers have what we are shopping for. Our one and only local tire store does not sell Michelin tires, but when I got my Internet purchased tires (on the second day after ordering) I took them to our local tire store and paid to have them mounted and balanced. You seem to forget that I am one of the little guys too!

  5. Geoffrey Pruett

    In the 70’s was driving Chrysler sedans in Texas, 5000 lbs plus and discovered BFG’s 990 radials. Designed as a retrofit for patrol cars they had all the pluses of radials without the squirm most had. They never reached age out as each trip to work was 45 miles round trip. The only time they got attention is when they started to shimmy, usually because one or more was down to cord showing. Not a single flat in three sets, was sad when they vanished from the market. Went to Mich on our first Class C with the salesmans promise that I could feel the improvement as we crossed the curb line. He was right. These did age out due to low use and had flats after they aged out. Replacing them is a small price to pay for the safety in handling they provided. If your tires are exposed to sun they can present and unpleasant suprise after 4 years regardless of wear. This is the reason to not use a used tire on the rear duals except to get ot a tire store. Age out changes with sun exposure but experience shows it is real. The best service recieved has been at local dealers and that includes our local chain LES SCHWAB. They will try to sell you what is on the shelf but they mean what they say about the service.

  6. Jim

    Frank, I see you caught that also. I love these people that say they support the local economy and never shop the mom and pop operations, then they say that big bussiness drove them out. It is not big bussiness that drives us little guys out , it’s the people that support the big companies and not the little guy, and the’re the first to cry when the little guy goes out. Thank you all for letting me blow off some steam.

  7. Jim Hammack

    when u replace those tires, make sure they put the properly rated stem in also. i had a tire dealer put a regular stem on my E rated tires. a couple years later, i would loose air and nothing was found. a dealer near me found the stem was under rated and replaced it. the problem disappeared. look for the metal stem when replacing the “E” rated tires. i’ve also had a stem break off on me but that is another story. my limited has come the hard way. with each experience, i find out how little i know.

    On the stem issue, don’t assume that because it is a tire dealer, it is right. my tires were replaced by a dealer.

    Tire failure can cause lots of damage to an rv.

  8. Frank

    I Laughed when I read that he says ” I LIKE TO SUPPORT OUR LOCAL ECONOMY”, and then price shopped only Sams Club & Sears (Both National Chains!”. Then ordered them off the internet and had to wait several days to get them! Why not try a REPUTABLE LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED Tire Store. He probably could of saved money!!

  9. Kenneth Fuller

    Don’t forget to check the DOT date code for the week and year of manufacture. Some of the aforementioned stores are noted for selling “new” tires that are several or many years old to begin with.

  10. Jim Hammack

    I have run into a sinilar problem here. i opted to wait the 2 days and get them from sams. the thing that i ran into with them was they didn’t want to mount the tire because it was a G rated tire. i don’t have split rims so wasn’t expecting this. i ask if they would mount it and i would inflate it. they agreed but inflated it also.

    My trailer tires tend to dry rot (from uv exposure) long before wearing out. i look at the date of manufacture and replace after 3 years….sooner if i see other problems. the date of manufacture is next to the dot no.

  11. w6pea

    I put new tires on my P/U a couple of months ago. Got the same run around from Sears and a Goodyear Dealer I went to another tire dealer. Also their prices were almost $200 bucks more than Costco! Discount Tire in other staes i think they are called Americas Tire. Any way they matched Costco’s Price and sold them to me for $20.00 bucks less tah costco and I also got a mail in rebate.

    Now if anyone can answer when I need to replace the tires on my RV I am noticing cracking in the sidewalls only 24,000 miles on them. Keep 80 psi in the tires.

  12. Great article, Mark — now reposted to Just Camping Out, linked above — with fulll credit and links. ~Jim