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Old 03-29-2017, 08:28 AM   #1
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New Tires: Summary of Lessons Learned

Hi All: Based on age and the emergence of sidewall cracking, I decided last fall that I will need to replace my 7 yr old 255/80R-22.5 Michelin XRV tires this spring. My 2011 Winnebago Journey Express is on the Freightliner XC chassis, and has 22.5 diameter 8.25" wide steel wheels with chrome wheel simulators. I spent the last 4 months researching the subject, and literally have read every tire post on the internet - and yes, there are a lot! To condense what I have learned from my extensive studies, I would like to summarize what I have found to hopefully save others the amount of time it took me to find these kind of answers. To cut to the chase and see what I ended up replacing my tires with, scroll down to the very end. If you think this post is too long, stop reading and go click on something else

Disclaimer: The statements below are my personal observations gleaned from other peoples opinions, and may not apply to your situation. Before contracting any service for your coach, I strongly recommend getting a professional opinion.

1. Find a commercial tire service that has someone knowledgeable about Class A RV tires. A good way to find out if the person on the other end of the phone has RV experience, ask a lot of questions; for example, see if they are familiar with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). A lot of commercial shops simply won't deal with fussy RV owners, and will try to end the conversation quickly. After calling 6 different commercial tire shops, I went with the one where the service manager (always start by asking for the service manager), said "Let me put you through to Mike, he has 25 years of experience working on RV's - he can answer all your questions.". Bingo. Also ask if they are familiar with and are willing to install Dually Valves - see #2 next.

2. Consider installing Borg Dually valves. While not a lot of information out there on this product, those who have used them have strong positive opinions. The only negative comments relate to whether they are worth the cost of $120 vs $5 standard valve stems - a valid argument, but there does not seem to be anything else like them on the market. I felt it was worth it because I have had a number of issues with cheap valve stem extensions on my tires, slow air loss, but luckily no blowouts thanks to TPMS. The factory arrangement on my XRV tires had a plastic stem extension from the inner dually to the outside, and a short extension from the outer dually facing inside between the two duals. This was a royal PITA to deal with, and at one point, the plastic stem broke off inside my TPMS sensor (Really? You sold a 28000 pound RV with PLASTIC valve extensions??!!). The Borg Dually valve kit provides a steel bolt-in valve with long brass/chrome length that reaches through a solid rubber grommet in the outer wheel for easy outside access. It appears to be very well supported, and I should have no more concerns with the extensions coming loose at the valve stem. The valve stem for the outer tire is equally useful, since it is bent to come around the wheel and wheel simulator and face outside - much better than having to crawl under and between the duals to access the TPMS sensor or to adjust air. This product makes taking your TPMS sensors on and off (to change batteries/o-rings) much easier, and reduces the risk of loosening an extension at the valve stem while doing so - see item 3.

3. Use a good TPMS system. I am very happy with my Tire System Technology (TST) 507 Flow Through system, but there are a number of very good options from other companies, all with a strong support base you can read about on this forum. I have personally been very impressed to be able to access TST's outstanding technical support on the three occasions I have needed to contact them. Great people who you can call and talk to without getting the run around. There are pro's and con's for each of the options out there - regarding the 507 Flow Through model I use, the sensor does throttle the air volume speed, but I like that they have replaceable batteries and that I can service them myself. The only downside is the display is a bit hard to see in different bright lighting conditions, but they are apparently coming out with an improved display. Conclusion, getting a functional TPMS system is more important that what brand it is. It has proved useful on two very important instances so far, both of which could have been much more serious if I had not been aware I was losing air.

4. Don't be afraid to get a different brand or size of tire, but DO YOUR HOMEWORK! There are a lot of very strong opinions out there about tires, don't be daunted. The Michelin XRV tire was "designed for RV's", and has a softer outer wall. These tires are famous for their sidewall cracking problems. Goodyear tires also have the legacy of "rivering". In both cases, Michelin and Goodyear tires are considerably more expensive than Toyo, Hankook, and even Firestone / Bridgestone. I am not going to sit hear and tell anyone what tire to get. I chose Hankook on the advice of the commercial tire service tech who had 25 years of experience working on RV's - who also by the way was a self-proclaimed "Michelin Man". When considering size differences, be very careful what you find on the internet. Generic dimensional sizes and internet tire calculators can be wrong -which is what I spent a lot of time trying to figure out. Always go with the information from the tire manufacturer's specs, not what someone else says their tire of the same dimensions has. The discrepancies were significant in some cases. So, I was able to replace my 255/80R Michelin XRV tires with 275/70R Hankook AH12 tires, with minimal issues. These SPECIFIC tires are about 1" (20mm) wider, and about 1" shorter. The revolutions per mile however were within 1% (and my speedometer reads 1 mph higher than my GPS speed indication). Other very important considerations: 1. Make sure your Dually Spacing can accommodate the extra tire width - I had 3 1/4" from the start, so shrinking this to 2" turned out to be ok. This was a major concern for me, but people with the 7.5" rims may not be as fortunate. 2. Make sure the tire you choose will work for your rim size. 3. Make sure the tire you get has an adequate load rating. I went from a G/14 ply rating up to an H/16 ply rating, which is an upgrade that allows me to carry the same weight at about 10% less tire pressure - see item 5.

5. Carefully consider tire pressure and appropriate load ratings. There are lots of very strong opinions out there on this subject. All coach manufacturers and many service centers will deliver your coach with air pressure in the tires based on the coach / chassis placard recommendations. These manufacturer recommended tire pressures may be appropriate, or in our case, may be much higher than needed for the actual load supported. Again, I am not here to tell you which way to go on this subject. I went with the advice of the RV tire professional, who claimed "80% of the RV's going down the road have over inflated tires". First, WEIGH YOUR COACH (4 corners preferred), consult the load tables, THEN consult a professional. Instead of 110 psi recommended by Winnebago, the Hankook load chart recommended 83 psi for my actual axel weight loads. I chose to inflate to the load table plus a bit more than 10%, and am running at 92 - 94 psi. (Keep in mind that I upgraded a load range from G to H.)

6. Post tire installation alignment is usually recommended, but the one limitation of the service center I chose is that they don't have the ability to align the XC chassis. I am planning to have that done this fall at the end of season when I take the coach to the Freightliner service center for pre winter storage service. I don't believe the alignment is off, it drives straight and true on the previous and new tires.

7. Buying with Club Discounts. Many people have saved money with the FMCA tire discount plan, which was originally just for Michelin tires but I think has recently been expanded to include some additional options. I am a member of the Winnebago (WIT) club, which offers the same deal. Upon researching and getting quotes, the savings IN MY CASE, were very minimal. If you are sure you want to stick with Michelin, this may be the way to go, but it just wasn't for me (see conclusion for cost breakdown).

8. Other considerations: I ran across some information regarding use of the crossfire air system and balance beads, and while I was a bit intrigued, I chose to skip those options.

Conclusion: The Hankook AH12 tires I chose appear to handle very well so far. They seem to have a better grip on the road, which makes sense due to the slightly wider base, and they ride considerably smoother than the XRV tires. Part of this may be due to using the correct inflation for the load supported. The total invoice for replacing all 6 tires came to $2908, plus the $120 I spent acquiring the Borg Dually valve kit from the internet. This amount is about $1600 less than replacing with the original Michelin XRV tires, even with the WIT discount. Obviously, I just had this done, and only time will tell if I made a wise decision. I will update this thread in the future if I run into any problems with either the Hankook AH12 tires or the Borg Dually Valve kit.

I hope this long and detailed summary will be of some use to those with similar tire replacement questions. Please feel free to comment or correct me if I have misstated something, or if you have other pertinent observations. Thank you to all the fantastic people on this forum I have had to pleasure to learn from, happy travels to all.
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:15 AM   #2
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Very informing write up. I've saved this for a future reference. Thanks!!
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:43 AM   #3
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Well written and I will save also. A question? In your research what time frame for replacement did you come up with? I've seen everything from every 5 years to 10 years. Any consensus out there? Thank you
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:51 AM   #4
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Great info. I'm looking now for Michelin "cracked wall" replacements as we speak!
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:06 AM   #5
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Well written and I will save also. A question? In your research what time frame for replacement did you come up with? I've seen everything from every 5 years to 10 years. Any consensus out there? Thank you
This is probably the most difficult of all the questions. I concluded that for Michelin XRV tires, the replacement window is 7 to 10 years. Michelin recommends use of the XRV tires for no more than 10 years, and that they should be inspected every year after the first 5 years. Obviously many different opinions out there, and because new tires are very expensive, it is a major and sometimes emotional decision for all of us.

The primary considerations that come to mind include: 1. How the tires were cared for. If they sat parked on a cold surface for 4 months in the Wisconsin winter, or if they sat parked for 4 months with direct exposure to the Arizona sun. Both extremes can lead to degradation; winter sun in the north can be just as bad. Tires that sit for extended periods of time can apparently also cause reduced lifespan, but this appears to be a bit controversial with the newer more high-tech tire compositions. Also, if you purchased a used coach advertised with "tires in great shape", you may not have access to any information as to how they were cared for. Use of tire covers and/or Aerospace 303 protectant can reduce the impact of UV damage. 2. If the tires were unintentionally deflated, they may have suffered some internal degradation. According to what I've read, one should not trust using a reinflated tire that ran flat - unless it was a simple leak that was caught before the tire was significantly deformed, it should be replaced. 3. Physical observations. If the tire exhibits unusual wear from improper inflation or alignment, or if the tread depth is low, it should be replaced. Also included in this category is the presence of sidewall cracking, or "rivering" in the case of the Goodyears.

Conclusion: Since I bought a used coach with original tires, I chose to replace at 7 years, especially since there was some emerging sidewall cracking, and I had no knowledge of their history. The next time I replace these tires, I may be able to stretch that further because I will be taking very good care of these tires and will be cognizant of how they are holding up. Hope that helps!
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:13 AM   #6
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Thanks for taking the time to do this. Maybe the post could become part of a tire "Sticky" although I think it would qualify as a stand-alone, IMHO. I am certainly going to Bookmark it.
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:24 AM   #7
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Anyone using 245-75R/22.5 Toyo M154. And what do you have to say
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:36 AM   #8
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Anyone using 245-75R/22.5 Toyo M154. And what do you have to say
These tires were the closest replacement size to the Michelin 255/80R, and in general, have very positive feedback in the forums. I was hoping to replace my Michelins with these, but unfortunately, the commercial tire service I used did not carry Toyo tires. So, I chose the service center and the knowledge of the service center staff over trying to find expertise in another center that carried Toyo. I hope someone chimes in with direct experience, but from everything I read, they appear to be a very good option.
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Old 03-29-2017, 11:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Well written and I will save also. A question? In your research what time frame for replacement did you come up with? I've seen everything from every 5 years to 10 years. Any consensus out there? Thank you
Ten years seems to be a good outside limit--several manufacturers recommend it. I decided to go with 8 just to give myself a fudge factor. The tires I replaced looked pretty good on the outside, but I feel a lot more secure with new tires under the coach. I think I would have worried every trip we took from year 8 to 10.

I know of some people who change their tires every 5 years and I've seen others driving on 12 year old tires. Everyone is different and I don't think tire replacement is an exact science.
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:26 PM   #10
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sumitomo 245/75r22.5 how about these tires any input on them
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:48 PM   #11
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Nice write up.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 03-29-2017, 04:45 PM   #12
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sumitomo 245/75r22.5 how about these tires any input on them
I believe that was the size I used on my last gas model I had. The Sumitomos worked well for me no complaints.
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Old 03-29-2017, 08:17 PM   #13
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Great to know
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:32 PM   #14
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1. Find a commercial tire service that has someone knowledgeable about Class A RV tires. A good way to find out if the person on the other end of the phone has RV experience, ask a lot of questions; for example, see if they are familiar with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). A lot of commercial shops simply won't deal with fussy RV owners, and will try to end the conversation quickly. After calling 6 different commercial tire shops, I went with the one where the service manager (always start by asking for the service manager), said "Let me put you through to Mike, he has 25 years of experience working on RV's - he can answer all your questions.". Bingo. Also ask if they are familiar with and are willing to install Dually Valves - see #2 next.

Nice narrative.

I live in NW Illinois, not too far from Madison. I'm probably going to replace the tires on my RV, or at least get the inspected as they were manufactured in 2010.

1) How did you find "commercial tire service" businesses?

2) If you can recommend the guy you worked with, can you post or PM me his info? If I could find a knowledgeable person who could work with me on my RV tires and subsequent balance/alignment, I'd make the drive to the Madison area.

3) If anyone can recommend a good RV tire/alignment place in the Chicago area preferably NW Chicago, I'd appreciate it.
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