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Author Topic:   Spare Tire While Towing
cban posted 07-15-2015 04:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for cban   Send Email to cban  
I recently relocated my 1999 Dauntless from the Georgia coast to Holden Beach, NC with a stop in Charlotte, NC for some maintenance. I had only towed the boat any significant distance once, when I bought the boat seven years ago in Charleston, SC and towed it to Georgia. Although I didn’t have any difficulties, the vehicle I have for towing is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder Ford Ranger which is rated for 4,000-lbs towing. The vehicle and boat weight combination is at its max, so I was very careful in inspecting the trailer, a single axle model, and making sure the truck’s fluid levels were correct and tire pressure was correct on both the truck and the trailer.

As I was towing from Charlotte to Holden Beach, I had a blow-out on the right trailer tire. Not just a flat, but a full blow-out with the plastic trailer fender knocked off by the shredded tire. The trailer started to fishtail back and forth wildly, but I was able to get the rig off the four-lane highway and onto the dirt shoulder. That’s when the fun began.

I have been an avid reader of the posts on this website for more than seven years, and I have heard it said many times how important it is to always have a spare tire for your trailer. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen. Instead I trusted that the tires on my trailer which had been sitting in a storage shed in Georgia for seven years, rarely moved but with still reasonable treads certainly wouldn’t let me down. Of course, I was wrong.

This was on a Sunday the day after July 4th in a very rural section of North Carolina. And then I started the search for a trailer tire. I found out from some kind folks at a convenience store that the only tire store in the area had closed up about a month ago, and they weren’t open on Sundays anyway. I better try Wally World about 10-miles up the road. Ten very long country miles to a Wally World with a tire section. Of course, they had every tire size except the size that fit my trailer. A very common 205/75R14. However, they did have a four sized lug nut wrench for $12 which I picked up just in case.

Fortunately, my wife was following me about an hour behind and started looking for a replacement at open stores as she headed my way. And she found one at a tractor supply store. We met on the side of the road with traffic whipping by on their way home from the holiday weekend, and I was so happy I think I actually kissed my wife. I haven’t done that in a long, long time. (Not because I don’t love her, we’ve just been married a long, long time). Anyhow, the right side of the trailer was dipping into a ditch and I needed to jack that side up to put on the new tire. I had a bottle style jack and a 4x4 piece of lumber and got to work. After about 20 minutes of work I finally got the trailer jacked up as high as it would go, with sweat pouring into my eyes, only to find it was about 1” short (no jokes). I was able to get the blown tire off thanks to the new lug wrench I had bought just in case at Wally World and had to dig the dirt out by hand to get the new tire on. While doing so, I pulled a muscle in my lower back. Of course, this was the beginning of my week’s vacation at the beach. Did I tell you about the fire ants? Some other time I guess.

Well I continued my adventure, finally making it to Holden Beach in seven hours for a trip that normally takes me three and a half. I dropped off the boat at its new home, Holden Beach Marina, and found a storage yard for the trailer. But before I left it there, I got the blown tire fixed and bought a bracket for the spare and put both on the trailer. I may never tow that boat again, but if I do, I can guarantee that it will have a spare tire for the trailer.

contender posted 07-15-2015 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Three things that ruin a trip or vacation: trailer trouble, an accident, and or a ticket. I have always been a pain when it comes to a up to date in shape trailer, My trailers are perfect all the time, I carry a spare, a floor jack, wood for bracing, a bearing and hub, and the tools to do it all. To me, It is just not worth the trouble being stuck on the side of the road and the trouble you have to go throught to fix it. I am lucky to drive a truck that can hold all this stuff in the back in a tool box. At least it was not night and raining, and you found a replacement.
Jefecinco posted 07-16-2015 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
I was surprised to learn the Ram OEM screw jack is absolutely adequate for changing the tires on both our boat trailers. The OEM lug wrench also fits the trailer lug nuts.

It may be worthwhile to check your OEM equipment for use with your trailer. A piece of lumber is always useful for a stabilizer on hot asphalt or the ground.


Jefecinco posted 07-16-2015 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
I was surprised to learn the Ram OEM screw jack is absolutely adequate for changing the tires on both our boat trailers. The OEM lug wrench also fits the trailer lug nuts.

It may be worthwhile to check your OEM equipment for use with your trailer. A piece of lumber is always useful for a stabilizer on hot asphalt or the ground.


Tom Hemphill posted 07-16-2015 06:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom Hemphill  Send Email to Tom Hemphill     
Thank you, cban, for sharing your experience. I had a very similar experience in a rural part of New York State when returning from a Boston Whaler rendezvous (the 2010 Manhattan circumnavigation).

It was getting dark and I had given up hope of self-rescue when a Good Samaritan -- a fellow boater -- stopped and offered assistance. He evaluated the situation, drove home to get a matching tire and rim, then came back and installed it with the help of his garage-style jack. He didn't want any compensation, but I managed to slip him a little money as he left.

After that experience, I bought three new tires and reviewed and tested my tire changing plan, adding wood blocking to the kit I carry. It occurs to me I should review my readiness again, now that I have a different boat and trailer.

kwik_wurk posted 07-16-2015 06:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
I made a set of 4 tire stops out of treated 4"x8", that also double as wood blocking.

The pieces are cut a little long, and have a string run through to make a pair. They are sized such to positioned vertically serve to prop up a side of a trailer frame with tire(s) attached allowing for good access. And since flat tires always happen on uneven ground, double as a base for the jack.

The blocks are typically tied into the boat just prior to departure, and usually are the first things out. -- When the boat is off the trailer, string them to the bow receiver post, keeping them off the ground.

Hoosier posted 07-17-2015 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
The comment buried in cban's story is he got a spare at Tractor Supply. I had the same thing happen to my utility trailer on I-75 in Michigan and got a replacement at the nearest TSC. My spare was OLD and had checked sidewalls but it was good enough for the trip to TSC to get the new tire. Oh, they have both tires and tire/wheel assemblies.
jimh posted 07-17-2015 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The key element in the narrative: the tires on the trailer were seven years old. Even tires that have little road use are going bad after seven years of age.

This spring I was getting ready for a 275-mile tow of my boat, and I looked at the spare time. The spare was my oldest tire, the best of the last lot of tires when I replaced four tires on my tandem-axle trailer. It was thus probably ten years old. I noticed a big chuck of tread had just fallen off the tire. (Well, maybe it got a little encouragement to fall off over the winter in the storage yard; many strange things happen to boats and trailers while they are in a storage yard.) I decided immediately that this tire was no longer useful as a spare. It would be likely to shed more tread the minute it was put into service. The next morning I was at the tire store at 8 a.m. when it opened and bought a new tire, had it mounted on my trailer wheel, and balanced. Then we went on the 275-mile trailer haul.

The tire manufacturers now seem to be advising that five years is the useful life of a tire, regardless of actual road mileage. All the other tires on my trailer date from 2010. I bought them just before going on a 1,350-mile round-trip trailer haul to Copper Harbor, Michigan. So I guess--following the tire manufacturer's guidelines--I will be due for four new trailer tires next year.

jimh posted 07-17-2015 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Exposure to sunlight is another element in tire life. For the past ten years, my trailer and its tires have spent most of their life indoors in a storage building, far away from sunlight and its ultraviolet rays. A trailer that is kept outdoors in sunshine all the time will experience more UV-radiation, and the tires may age faster. And perhaps location will be an influence. The closer to the equator the more sunlight.

By the way, when I put the new tire on as the spare, I dug out an old tire cover that I had. The trailer is now stored outdoors, and I figured I would give the new spare tire some protection against sunlight with a cover. However, in the new storage location, the trailer is closer to the North Pole than to the Equator, so the sunlight is not as damaging as farther South.

jimh posted 07-17-2015 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: your comment about actually kissing your wife reminds me of a lyric from an old Frank Sinatra song "Chicago":

On State Street that great street I just want to say
They do things that they never do on Broadway
Say they have the time, the time of their life
I saw a man and he danced with his wife
In Chicago, Chicago, Chicago--that's my home town

Apparently, in New York city, when married men go out dancing, it's not with their wives.

Marlin posted 07-17-2015 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Last year I was trailering my 160 Dauntless from northern VA down to Smith Mountain Lake, about 5 hours. While prepping for the trip, I noticed one tire was a little low, and found a large screw embedded in the tread. The tires were Goodyear Marathons, 12 years old but with good tread and no sidewall cracks.

To play it safe, I swapped that tire out for my spare, a 10-year-old of another brand that had never felt the pavement. Two hours later, on busy I-64 outside Charlottesville, the tread on the "new" tire separated from the rest of the tire, taking the fender with it 20-30 feet into the air. Briefly very exciting.

The Ford Explorer jack works great with the trailer (I'd tried it before), so I picked up the pieces off the highway and put the tire with the screw back on for an uneventful finish to the trip.

Later that week I put on two new Goodyears, and demoted the other original Goodyear to spare status.


Binkster posted 07-17-2015 10:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
Seven years is past the lifespan of any tire, even if unused. I hoped you got a new tire on the other side too, before this happens again. You mentioned you got the blown out tire fixed and are using it as a spare. You need to get a spare that will actually work if you need it.


contender posted 07-17-2015 04:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Bink is correct, 7-8 years on a tire if its being used or not...
cban posted 07-17-2015 07:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for cban  Send Email to cban     
I haven't put a new tire on the other rim yet, but I certainly will. I learned my lesson. Old tires no matter how much tread they have, especially if they've been stored for a long period must be changed. It may not be cheap, but it's worth the money to be safe. I was alone when the blow out occurred, but I can't imagine putting my family or friends in jeopardy to save a few bucks. And I'm a cheap SOB.
Marlin posted 07-20-2015 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
To clarify, both the tires on the axle are new. The spare is the undamaged old tire.
Powergroove803 posted 07-21-2015 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Powergroove803  Send Email to Powergroove803     
On long trips I always carry a spare in the boat making it easier to get to while on the side of the highway. It stays in the garage when I just take my boat the 1.5 miles down the road to my local ramp. I also carry a spare hub, a lug wrench and a grease gun for the longer trips.
I have friends who carry all of this plus an extra axle and some who carry 2 spare tires for their tandem axle trailers.
Ferdinando posted 07-27-2015 07:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ferdinando  Send Email to Ferdinando     
I always replace my trailer tires every 4 years regardless of mileage or tread wear. I had one blowout on a 5 yr old tire which had almost no mileage and it scared the hell out of me. Best price found for trailer tires, Pep Boys, almost a hundred bucks less then West Marine!

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