Tow Dolly Tires
A few months ago I noticed that the tread on our tow dolly tires had started to display an uneven wear pattern. It wasn’t a pattern that I could associate with wheel alignment or over/under inflation that one would expect to see.
No, the row of lugs on either side of the center rib took on a saw-toothed or stair step pattern…each in a series of three, each shorter than the next in a consistent pattern around the entire tire. I monitored this wear closely, and when the shortest of the lugs were getting down to a disconcerting height it was time to look at replacements.
I shopped around, checking tire availability at Wal-Mart stores as we traveled, as well as at local tire shops, looking to score a deal on a pair to replace those on the dolly. At one of our recent stops I decided it was definitely time to pull the trigger and get them replaced, so I visited a local tire shop near where we were staying. The salesman gave me a fantastic price and I was ready to get it done, but something told me to mull over the quote as we weren’t departing yet for several more days.
I decided it was easier to take the wheels off myself where we were parked, rather than go through the hassle of bringing the motorhome into town (our towed vehicle doesn’t have a hitch to tow the dolly).
So, I put the dolly up on blocks and once the tires were spinning free I inspected them even closer. Yup. They needed to be replaced, but what was the cause of this strange wear pattern? I decided to contact the tire and dolly manufacturer to ask if they knew. Someone else must be have had a similar issue, as these dollies are very popular.
The tow dolly tires were made by Carlisle, so I did a quick search online and found their website. Nothing in their troubleshooting guide matched what I was seeing, so I decided to call or email them with my question. Using the contact form on their website I gave them the basic info…make of dolly, mileage on tires and the date of purchase.
Within 24 hours I had a reply. My trouble ticket was assigned to a representative and she needed more information: date code on the tires, proof of purchase of the dolly, the dolly’s rated gross weight and details on the vehicle I was carrying on the dolly. I provided these details immediately to expedite an answer to my question.
The next response was a real surprise. She was authorized to replace my tow dolly tires at no charge! All I had to do was provide a shipping address and they would send the replacements to me. PROBLEM! “We are traveling…a moving target,” I explained. “We aren’t in any one spot long enough to receive the replacements.”
A reply came within 24 hours, “We will replace your tires; just make arrangements with any one of our dealers on your route and submit the receipt for reimbursement.” YES! So, it was simply a matter of calling ahead to a dealer from a dealer list provided by Carlisle, to confirm that the tires were in stock and that I could bring the wheels in for the swap out. In this case it was Discount Tire in Farragut, TN. They did a great job and I was on my way again about 45 minutes later…they were busy and I was early for my appointment.
I’m only speculating here, but I suspect that there was an issue with the tires that were installed by the dolly manufacturer (Master Tow). The replacements have a different design, even though they are the same series/type (ST205/75D14). My guess is that replacements are being authorized as necessary to those on an on-call basis, in lieu of a full recall.
Given the number of RVing accidents that are directly related to tire failures and the increase in NHTSA’s attention, maybe the tire manufacturers are getting more proactive at responding to customer complaints. I wasn’t complaining, just seeking answers to find out if there was something I had done wrong so it wouldn’t happen again. I came out better than I had expected, and that’s great because I expect any tires to last longer than these did.