If you were running a marathon, you probably wouldn't wear poorly-fitting, second-hand sneakers to do so. Similarly, if you're hauling a huge RV all over the country, you want it to have pretty good shoes too. A tire pressure monitoring system can't hurt either (however, we know from experience if your TPMS isn't turned on…it won't do any good).
We had Goodyear 614's installed when we ordered our Heartland Landmark fifth wheel back in January of 2011. Many RVers are familiar with the horror stories about the 'China Bombs' that are standard on some new coaches. Though we didn't suspect Heartland of outfitting any of its trailers with subpar tires, we were taking extra care to avoid any horror stories of our own.
Back in May of 2014, we were driving from Canton, Texas, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, along highway 19. We came along a big chunk of wood in the road which couldn't be avoided. Unfortunately, we weren't able to slow down before we plowed over it; it was 'there' before we realized it.
We continued on, merging onto I-30, heading east. We were on I-30 for about 40 miles and we heard a loud POP. I immediately said, "We just had a blow out." To which Michael replied, "Mmmhmmm". I'm so surprised at how calm we both were.
?Michael is an expert defensive driver so he easily pulled over onto the side of the road where we got out and inspected the damage. The Landmark handled great…per Michael. If it hadn't been for the very loud, audible POP we wouldn't have known anything happened.The fender was blown to smithereens as was the tire. The belts had separated on the tire causing the tire to blow. We went back to the truck and called CoachNet, our roadside assistance company. They dispatched someone to assist us. They removed the old tire (or what was left of it) and put the spare on. We were back in business less than an hour and 15 minutes after the incident happened.
That fall, as we were returning to Texas for the winter we were traveling south along US 281 near Evant, Texas, when we heard an all too familiar 'POP'….damn it (sorry a swear word is needed here) if we didn't have another blow out on the coach! Michael did a great job of maneuvering the 5th wheel and truck (again!) over to the side of the road (but not before watching the coach fender go flying down the road behind us through the rear view mirror).
We got out and checked the damage – the front tire on the driver's side was destroyed as was the fender skirt (just replaced that July due to the previous blow out). We got back in the truck and determined where we were exactly on US 281 and put in a call to our roadside assistance company who found a tire company in Gatesville to come and change out the blown tire with the spare.
Coincidentally, both blow outs were on the same side of the coach, but different tires.The theory is that the first blow out weakened the second tire causing it to eventually blow as well.
We replaced both tires with the same Goodyear G614's and contacted Goodyear regarding the blow outs and damage to the coach. We'd had the tire shops keep the tires and turn them into Goodyear so that they could evaluate them. Like Heartland, Goodyear stands behind their product…they sent us a check to cover the purchase of new tires and for the damage to our 5th wheel.
As I was planning to write this article we moved from one gate guarding location to another and as we pulled into the new site we got out of the vehicle and could actually hear the air being released from one of the RV tires on the driver's side. We'd driven down a gravel road and hit a rock or stone 'just right', and it had sliced our tire.
This particular incident got Michael to thinking…we still had two of the original tires on the coach (made in 2010) and he thought it was time to replace those two with new tires. We now have two brand new tires and two that are almost 3 years old and will need replacing within the next year or so.
A road hazard like wood in the road or a rock aren't preventable. However, with good tires - which normally come with a good warranty - you could be entitled to new tires or help purchasing new tires.
Our TPMS wasn't turned on for either of the blow outs. If it had been it might have signaled us that something was awry…it might not have. We'll never know.