Our first problem happened on the highway in Georgia. Honestly, we didn't notice a thing (double axles are your friend, believe us!). A trucker was honking and waving at us...at first we thought people were just amazingly friendly in Georgia...but the look on his face said "pull over or you are going to die!" So we did. We discovered an exploded tire...not even duct tape could have helped it. We waited forever for a tow truck. The gentleman put our spare on and said the tire blew because we needed our bearings repacked, and proceeded to jiggle the tire to prove his point. So we drove to the nearest campground and made an appointment with Goodyear for the following morning.
AS THIS PHOTO SHOWS, THIS WHOLE SCENARIO MADE ME QUITE CRAZY!! AND THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN A YEAR AFTERWARDS!!
Goodyear repacked all of our bearings, INSPECTED our tires and said they were "fine" and sent us on our way. We did purchase a new tire there, not wanting to drive on the older spare tire. Nice unexpected expense, but we were sure our troubles were over...until we got to Nashville, of course.
Yes...they have friendly truckers in Nashville...on the highway, he was honking and waving, too! This time, we could see sparks flying from the troubled tire, and we knew this wasn't good. Long story short (and an entire day spent at the mechanics...a little place in the middle of absolute nowhere), the bearings were packed poorly and one destroyed our hub. Now we're getting worried. Our emergency fund was wearing down. The nice owner of the shop said if WE drive to Nashville to pick up the hub, it will save us tons on the final bill. So off we went. Hours later, we had hub in hand, it was installed, and we rejoiced. Before leaving, he also "inspected" our tires and said "they look great...you'll be fine." So we hit the road.
That evening, in the dark, somewhere near Marion, Illinois, we heard that "flop, flop, flop" on the highway. By this time, we were seriously unstable emotionally. As luck would have it, the next exit had a campground (cannot tell you how lucky this was). So we drove on the bad tire, hazard lights on, just happy to be able to sleep. I think we would have slept on the highway if we had to. This time, it was the same axle but opposite tire that blew. Yes...we called the tow truck again, they put the spare on, and we drove 45 mph for our final 200 miles on the backroads, until we reached our destination.
The final outcome? Both tow truck experts were wrong. Goodyear was wrong (and did pack the bearings poorly and refunded our money, for destroying the hub) and the nice, backwoods mechanic was wrong...these tires were full of dry rot!!
We had to buy all new tires...and when our travel trailer had new rubber, the mechanic showed us something...there is a "DOT" code on the tires, that tells when the tires were made (usually on the inside sidewall). It was determined Custer used these on a wagon on the day of his last stand...they were THAT old.
Moral of the story? Tires that sit for long periods of time can develop tire dry rot, invisible to even the most observant of observers. That does not excuse the fact that those we encountered should have had the common sense to check the date...but they didn't. So our travel trailer got "new shoes" and we learned a hard, valuable lesson!
Now we know to be better prepared and how to care for our rv tires...and what to look for. We have only been full time rvers for two years...and a lot is learn by doing. We now recognize that a pretty tire might not have been used much, so it looks really nice on the outside, but it will disintegrate after it hits the highway.
Oh, and because we continue learning any way but easy, later we learned the hard way about motorhome brake repair.
Stay safe and Happy Trails!
Jim and Robin