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May 2013

Tire safety

Check boat trailer tires

Tire safety

With many boaters returning to the waterways, now’s a good time to talk about trailer tire safety. I learned first-hand how important it is to have reliable tires when our trailer tire blew out going 70 miles per hour on the way to a spring cruise.

Here are some easy and elementary tips on tire safety:

  • Ensure that your trailer tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which you’ll find on the tire’s outer sidewall. Both over- and under inflation can be bad, but under-inflated tires can overheat, leading to a blow-out.
  • Carry a tire pressure gauge, a properly inflated spare tire, and the tools necessary to change a flat tire, including an appropriately sized jack and the right socket for your wheel lug nuts.
  • When you stop for gas or lunch, feel the tires with your hand. They should be warm but not so warm that holding your hand on them is difficult. If they are too hot, check your tire pressure and be aware that continued overheating could mean trouble.
  • Know your tires’ lifespan, and replace them accordingly. Even if the tire tread and overall appearance looks good, an older five- to six-year-old tire can still have dry rot, which may not be evident to the untrained eye.

    My blowout was due to dry rot on 5-year-old tires. The dealer suggested I replace all the tires except my spare. After I described how I used and stored my trailer, she said five to six years is what I could expect. (I use my trailer about six days a year, two days on cruises and four days traveling back and forth to New Jersey. The other 359 days a year, it just sits in a lot in Keowee Key or in our New Jersey driveway, totally exposed to the elements.)

    She suggested I cover the tires and lift them off the ground to extend their life.

 

  

 

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