There’s Always More On Tires

RV tire sidewall cracking.

Tires on any type of RV are the topic of constant discussion which emphasizes how important they are to one’s enjoyment and safety while traveling. I’ve written here on our blog in the past about tires on many occasions and because it is such a popular and important topic, I’m writing about it again. This time I want to draw your attention to RV tire sidewall cracking, an issue that put our travels on hold for part of the summer.

We’ve owned our motorhome and have been on the road as full-timers for over six years. In that time, we replaced the tires that were OEM, that is Original Equipment by the Manufacturer. They served well for 10+ years and only one of the six ever presented us with an issue. When we no longer felt safe driving with them under our coach, we did what needed to be done and replaced them with six brand new tires.

Goodyear or Michelin?

The OEM tires were Goodyears, and I considered replacing them with the same brand/type but the local tire shops weren’t really offering any bargains when it came to pricing. I had read a lot of good things and some bad about Michelin, but the same could be said for Goodyear too. A local tire store, part of a regional chain provided an attractive quote on the Michelin X2A2 Energy in size 275/70R 22.5 so we said…DO IT!

From the very first moment we started rolling with the new shoes on the bus, the ride was better and much quieter. From that point on, we traveled putting on a great number of miles over the next five years. However, this past winter while in Arizona as we moved around between points within the state I noticed RV tire sidewall cracking – small cracks in the sidewalls around the rim.

How Much Weathering is Normal?

A quick check of the Michelin website tire troubleshooter showed that this sort of weathering was “NORMAL”.  Once Spring rolled in, we started to prepare for our migration north. It was then I noticed additional cracking, this time just below the tread belt. Again, the Michelin resources said it was acceptable UNLESS those cracks were wider than 2-3mm.

To gauge the width as acceptable or not is easy. If you can slip the corner of most credit cards or driver’s license into the crack easily you need to be looking for new tires! This sort of RV tire sidewall cracking is an indication that the tread belt could separate just as you see them Rubber Crocodiles laying on the highways from a tire that has had a catastrophic failure.

Time to hit the road. We embarked on our trek north, slowly with shorter legs for a couple of reasons, one being the concern about the tires. After making the trip, all 1760 miles of it safely, we felt it was no longer safe to travel on those tires … so we sat.

Would Michelin Stand Behind Their Warranty?

A warranty is good only if the manufacturer stands behind it, which is why I am sharing this. I contacted the very same tire dealer that installed them, albeit a different store that was closer. They told me that I needed to start a claim with Michelin first. Which I did. It was a simple matter of filling out a form online on their website.

Within 24 hours, I had a claim number and instructions to go to a Michelin dealer near me…right to the ones who sold them to me. I made an appointment, to assure someone was available to evaluate the tires. The process at the store took about a half hour. They inspected and documented the condition, concurring with me that they needed replacing and conveyed that to Michelin.

I had to wait for the dealer to call me back, to let me know what Michelin’s determination was. What I heard from the dealer was unbelievable. So much so, I contacted Michelin to get it directly from them so there was no miscommunication about it. Yes, they were standing behind their warranty and they made us a great offer. They would reimburse us 86% of the cost for the replacement tires. We were liable for the mounting and balancing and other service fees charged by the dealer. This included replacement valve stems and the typical shop environmental fees. (As a former Service Manager in a mechanical shop, we passed on a fee to offset the cost of shop supplies and disposal of hazardous materials.)

We also had to purchase the replacement tires outright from the dealer. Michelin cannot force a dealer to install replacements at their expense and wait for credit or reimbursement. Once the tires were installed, we were to send Michelin a copy of our invoice and they would process our claim and send us a check in 4 to 6 weeks.

The replacements recommended by the dealer. Michelin X-City 275/70R 22.5

New Tires At Last

Once we had the funds in hand, I made the appointment to have the new replacement tires installed. The job took about three hours to complete and the ride back to the RV park wasn’t as concerning as it was to the shop. The next day I submitted by email the invoice to Michelin. I expected a response acknowledging receipt, but none came. About two weeks later I contacted them by email asking if they did in fact receive my invoice statement. “Yes,” came the reply, along with the date the check was issued. As they say … “The check is in the mail!” It arrived several days later.

I don’t know if it was a calculation error on my part, but the amount we received was slightly more than we expected which makes us happy customers! Now, I can’t promise that you will have the same fortune, but if your RV’s tires are under warranty and they are showing signs of stress, you might want to get them inspected by an authorized dealer and submit a claim to see if they qualify for replacement as ours did.

Safe Travels!

We’re looking forward to rolling on down the road again real soon…autumn migration is close at hand. It’s been a long summer sitting in one spot, not being able to take even short side trips because our tires weren’t safe. Stay safe out there!

You can’t make this stuff up…

Not every RVer is safety minded. While new tires were being installed on our motorhome, the mobile service guy was dispatched on a call to help an RV owner with a fifth-wheel  who had a flat on the side of the highway. Long story short, the technician told us when he returned the flat tire was more than twenty years old. He checked the other three tires and they were as old and in as rough condition. The RVer was told that he’d better replace the tire on the opposite side of the axle because it too wasn’t going to make it very far, and to his credit, he agreed. Think about that, a fifth-wheel with tires that old on the highway. That is an example of a disaster waiting to happen that might include you should you be in close proximity…wrong place at the wrong time.

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.