One Hot Tire–What Does it Mean?

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September 29, 2008

Tire problems manifest themselves in many different ways, but what happens when the problem you’re having is out of the ordinary? Then it’s time to do some detective work. For example, a gentleman came up to me this past weekend at the Winnebago Rally in Rickreall, OR and told me how his 2007 coach had already blown the right inside dual three different times, and it only had 20,000 miles on it. The chassis builder replaced the first tire, but after that, they wouldn’t do replace it again. They had apparently checked it out several times, but couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

Unfortunately, we weren’t at my shop, so we couldn’t find out what the problem was, but I offered some suggestions. Since he said the tire/wheel assembly is hotter than the same one on the other side, I suggested he record those temperatures and document it. Is it consistently the same temperature after so many miles, or does it  continue to get hotter? What I think is happening with this particular situation is that the hose from the inside wheel that allows filling from the outside wheel is leaking, draining the air out of the inside dual. When it gets low on air, it develops a tremendous amount of heat and friction that eventually blows the tire. If you have a set of these hoses on your coach, check them to make sure they are not leaking, and check the tire pressure on your inner tires frequently. One of the things we recommend is a full steel stem (not flexible) from a company called Borg Tire Supply ( It comes out of the inner dual that curves toward the outside. The only thing to take into consideration is, when it comes to rotate your tires, you may have to dismount it at the tire and wheel because the stem is meant to stay on that inside dual position. I think you may be able to rotate it to the front wheel as well. There’s another product called the Crossfire Dual, that attaches both the tires and wheels together to a common filling point, and equalizes the pressure between the two tires. Typically the inner runs hotter, which builds pressure up. This is due to the fact that the inner tires are closer to the brake drums and don’t have the same air circulation as the outers do. The Crossfire uses a color-coded gauge that makes it easy to see if the pressure has gone too high or too low. If there is a blowout or if pressure drops more than 10 psi between the two tires, it shuts off the air flow between the two wheels so both won’t go flat. They do weigh quite a bit, though, so I would recommend re-balancing the wheels to compensate for the weight offset even though the product mounts near the center point of the hub.

One good thing you can put on your coach is a tire monitoring system. There are two types: The kind that measure just tire pressure, and others like the SmartTire system which measures both tire pressure and temperature ( These systems are effective, but you have to dismount the tires on both the towed vehicle and the motorhome.

Heat is a sign of resistance-an underinflated tire is one cause, but so is a dragging brake drum, a bad bearing, etc. For this reason, I think an infrared heat gun is another invaluable tool for diagnosing a hot tire or tire/wheel assembly. I hope that these tips will help those of you who have had or are having unusual tire problems.

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  2. Thank you Roger! My wife and I came up on a motorhome towing a mini van that had completely worn his left rear tire off his rim after it went flat. He was not even aware of it! We also had another customer who had a flat on his tow vehicle and it caught on fire and then caight his motorhome on fire and destroyed it! Thank you again! Robert

  3. Roger-Ohio

    Robert you are right on the money with your comments and diagnosis. Modern tires simply just do not fail for no reason. Especially multiple tires on the same position. 99+% of the time a tire failure can be traced to either air loss of some form of impact. This is based on forensic examination ( think CSI) of thousands of tire failures.

    One comment about tire failures on a dual position. Few people think about the damage being done to the tire that did not loose air. When one tire looses air the other has to carry the load which can result is 100% over load. This uses up much of that tire’s “life”.
    Unless you know when the air loss started and at what speed you were driving and stop very soon (few miles) you definately have done internal structural damage to the “good” tire.

    Filling the problem tire and using a good digital gauge to chart the inflation every few hours is a good step if you don’t have a TPMS.

    One of the first purchases for my Freelander 2130QB Class-C was the Hella TPMS system from tire rack.
    plus 2 extra valves for the 6 tires. Note my recommended inflation is 65 ( I run 68) cold. this system is car based so 75PSI is it’s upper range but it works for me. I can get pressure and internal temperature any time. The pressure is accurate to +/- 2 psi in the 65 to 70 psi range. Temperature seems to be accurate to +/- 3 °F based on comparing the reading from all 6 in the AM before tires get in the sun.

    I STRONGLY urge all RV owners to get a TPMS system that will work on your vehicle and pressure range. The system can pay for itself in time and $ saved if you avoid just 1 tire failure.