Let’s Conversate About Retiring Your Old Trailer Tires.


What? Is conversate even a word? It is now! Now, can we get beyond that and talk about your trailer tires today. We got this note from fellow a Woody Boater Craig, regarding a bit of a scare regarding his trailer tires. Ya see, he was at a show and good guy/ fellow Hagerty hall of famer, Charles Mistele mentioned to him at the Hartwell boat show that I need to get new tires even though mine looked brand new.

Craigs wonderful 24 Sportsman! Craig has great taste.

Craigs tires were from 2006 and really didn’t have any ware, and didn’t know that the standard trailer tires were “D” rated and were designed for pulling around 55 MPH. Leaving the Chatuge boat show in GA last weekend Scott Turner from Aristocraft Boats noticed one tire was low and we swapped it out (my second flat this year).  When we got home I took the trailer to the local tire store and ordered “E” rated tires, recommended  by Charles and are rated to speeds up to 81 MPH.

New Tire


I asked the tire tech to save the best two for a junk trailer and he showed me these tires and recommended I throw them away.  If you look at the pictures closely you will see chunks of tire missing or torn…  there was no way to tell from the outside and  appreciate the advice from Charles.  Five new tires at $99 each installed, is cheap insurance.

Bad tires. Look new, but look closer

Thats not good

Inside the damage is done!

YIKES! Comment all you want today, I am headed out to the barn to look at my tires!

17 replies
  1. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith says:

    I bought a Tire Pressure Monitoring System online (“Amazon”) for less than $100. It’s paid for itself at least twice in a year and a half. No-Brainer!

  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    Exactly why I bought a new trailer. No “ware” on new tires.

    What about offseason maintenance ? I jack my trailer up and keep the tires off the ground.

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Make sure you ALWAYS have the correct air pressure running the tires near the top of their load range even a bit low on air can cause them to heat up and accelerate aging.

    I have not had any trailer tire problems lately but when hauling the Penn Yan to Penn Yan on Saturday I had a brake line blow. With the boats in the water, now is a good time of year to catch up on trailer maintenance. Tires, brakes, lights and wiring, paint and corrosion. All great projects for your wife and kids to work on while you go boating.

  4. Don Vogt
    Don Vogt says:

    I believe the current party line is that tires should be replaced after 10 years in any event. Probably not a bad idea, even though mileage on them may be minimal.

    A related subject is repacking wheel bearings, too. The grease can dry out. Easy to forget how long ago it was last done, particularly as woody boaters tend to be an aging group.

  5. Tom S
    Tom S says:

    Just a comment on the load range part of the article, it almost read like the load range had something to do with the speed rating of the tire, which from everything I’ve read on the subject indicated there is no correlation between the two. Load range “E” has higher weight carrying capacity than does load range “D” at each of their respective maximum inflations. The maximum tire pressures on “E” rated tires are also higher than on “D”. That’s why on heavier duty pickups (2500, 3500) they recommend only running “E” rated tires. Speed rating on the other hand is dictated by a separate lettering system starting at letter “L” and going up from there, with the highest letters having the highest speed ratings, something usually reserved for high end sports cars. I just didn’t want any confusion that you can go faster with an “E” load range rated tire than a “D”. Thanks

  6. J Emery
    J Emery says:

    Thank you to WB for bringing this subject up. Old tires may look good but can be very dangerous. Have a good & safe summer.

  7. Walt S
    Walt S says:

    Tom S. is right. There is no correlation between “speed ratings” and “load range” numbers or letters. Two entirely different things. In fact, “load rating” used to mean the number of “plys”(belts) inside the tire–the more plys, the more weight the tire would carry. Now days the load range indicates the equivalent load carrying capability. It no longer indicates the number of plys. Paying attention to Gross Vehicle Weight and the tire manufacturers weight and load capacity is more important. Also, as has been stated, cold tire pressure inflation is very important to tire life and load. As far as how old a tire is and its performance, it depends on how it has been stored as well as age. Sitting in the sun will shorten the life of a tire to a greater degree than stored in a garage. Good rule of thumb is to follow the recommendation of the tire manufacturer on load, inflation and age before deciding to hit the road with old tires.

  8. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    Man, do not even get me started on trailer or classic car tires. I have had more near mishaps because of tires older than 6 years. I do a lot of hauling, and as most of you know, turn over my toys quite frequently. Each time I would get a new trailer with near perfect thread left, only to “FEEL” a belt go loose, a steel band of a radial. The older the tire the better your chance to have one go bad. This will cause a bad vibration in that axle, until it blows out. We had to limp home 20 miles at night on three tires, after one blew on the HackerCraft trailer.
    BUT, buying a new set can be as bad, if you do not personally check the MFG date stamped on the sidewall, like Jim Staib noted above. A tire with a 3 to 4 year old stamp date is just shortening your road time, before something goes wrong.
    And yes, all but one major tralier tire brand is made in China, and those that are, are worthless.
    Go the extra $$$ and move up to the highest load capability for your tire size. This will provide the extra toughness to take on our rough highways and backroads.
    Today, as soon as I buy a new toy, I go get the dates checked, and if over 5 years old, I put four “Mr. FeelGoods” on for piece of mine.

  9. Speedboat Outlaw
    Speedboat Outlaw says:

    One of the handiest and mind at ease items I use is an infrared thermometer. Point and push the button, you get an instant readout on your tire temp, bearing temp, mahogany temp, anything! I took Little Miss Maple Leaf to the St. Michaels Chesapeake Bay show from Michigan a few years ago and at rest stops I was able to monitor truck and trailer tires just about as fast as you could walk around the vehicles. Turns out tires facing the south were about 10 degrees warmer but all 5 were consistent. Peace of mind.

  10. Tom
    Tom says:

    Goodyear Marathon Radials is all I will own. Always run them at maximum pressure. Pay attention to the age of the tire not the miles. Just my two cents.

  11. Sean
    Sean says:

    Wow. Lots of mis-information here today.

    As a 15 year veteran with a tire manufacturer, I can truthfully tell you that tire age alone has little to do with the condition of your trailer tires. If kept stored properly a tire manufactured a few years ago gives nothing away to one manufactured last week. Problem is trailer tires are the most abused tires.

    That said, true trailer tires are becoming scarce as major manufacturers don’t see enough volume. Afaik, Goodyear is the ONLY major manufacturer still producing a quality trailer tire. Some companies recommend using PSR (Passenger) tires as they are made to carry a load, have power driven through them (drive wheels) and are designed to turn a vehicle. Trailer tires are free wheeling and designed to carry a load…. that’s it. Some trailer tires have extra rubber on the sidewall to protect from curbing. PSR tires are a good solution.

    Cheap offshore made tires are NOT the same quality but, due to the nature of this market segment, these products have dominated displacing the quality products and limiting choice. (there’s a lesson in there somewhere).

    The Best you can do when buying tires for your trailer is to ensure the tires load index is great enough to support your trailer, boat, gas, equipment etc…. then keep those tires inflated properly. The PSR load rating can sometimes be expressed as a number and located beside the speed rating (e.g. 205/60R15 89H). Light truck tires might say “XL” for extra load. Just make sure! There’s no shortage of information on this and google is your friend. Of course, I’d buy only trailer tires made by a major manufacturer like Goodyear.

    In the off season, keep your tires in a dry place as if you have a cut (even one that does not leak) this will discourage moisture from working to the belt package where the tire gets its strength. Check for bruises, cuts or punctures (road hazards) as even stones can drill into the casing during the season. Raising them off the ground will help them not take a “set” over the winter and become “thumpers” because they are out-of-round. Best to inflate to maximum when you are putting them away. They’ll lose a pound or two per month and another pound for every 10* drop in temperature. Check the pressure again in the spring before use. Nitrogen fill is somewhat controversial but, I believe in it as do thousands of class 8 trucking companies…. Also keep them out of sunlight in a cool dry place away from things like a gas furnace. Do NOT use products/cleaners like Armor all as this will foster sidewall cracking also called ozone cracking.

    Lastly, there are no moving parts in a tire. Things flex and the air supports the load. If you experience a “belt shift”, either it was like that when it was mounted (warranty) or, it became that way through (mis)use. Belt shift is also a misnomer as this really means belt separation. The number one cause of belt separation is under inflation/overloading. Tires do not shred (like the picture above) immediately with a puncture as this type of destruction takes miles of running to overheat to the point where you can accomplish this catastrophic failure….

    Btw: I didn’t work for Goodyear.

  12. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    Sean makes a great point, that I should have noted along with my picture above. This pic was AFTER I drive it home 20 miles , slowly, and spun off all the thread. When it blew, in came apart in big pieces, flapping against the trailer. It still was a big Blow out…

  13. Bill DeGlopper
    Bill DeGlopper says:

    I have 2 jersey speed skiff raceboats . Both are on identical 2009 Eagle trailers. Size 205/14 radial tires, factory originals. Enroute to Valleyfield, Quebec last year on the New York State Thruway, I noticed one tire sidewall wobbling outside the fender. Slowed the speed & as I pulled over the tire blew. Called my son Brian who was trailing the other skiff & within minutes his trailer suffered a similar fate, but did not blow. Fortunately , both trailers carry spares. Got off at Syracuse & went to Camping World for replacement tires. Diagnosis was the belts in both radial tires had shifted causing the blowout Bill

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