Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Triangle Tires

Delaminated tread and blown Triangle tire.

It’s not my place to tell you what you should or should not buy, so I’ll just lay out the facts and let you make your own decisions.  We had purchased an RV and were planning a trip to Pennsylvania with it.  The trailer hardly got used, spending most of its life stored in a shed.  In preparation for the trip, I crawled under the trailer to inspect the tires, and found myself lying there on the ground confused.  Half the tread was gone.  I couldn’t understand how the tires had worn so badly.  Trailer tires almost never wear out.  When they are replaced, it is because of age, not tread wear, but looking at the tread I thought, “Wow, I’m going to have keep an eye on these and replace them in another year or so.” 

So, we took off to Carlisle, PA, 1,400 miles away.  When we arrived, I checked the tires again and was surprised twice.  The first surprise was for how we managed to make the trip without blowing a tire, and again because the tires were now totally bald.  One showed a trace of tread, another a pale image of tread, and the remaining two were as smooth as racing slicks.  They needed to be replaced at once, but I needed to solve the mystery about what could have happened to them.  There was no sense putting new tires on if there was a problem, like axle alignment, that would destroy the new tires as well.  I called the RV dealer we had purchased the trailer from to pick his brain.  He hemmed and hawed a bit, and then said, “Look.  I need to be honest with you.  It is a bit embarrassing, but here it is.  The trailer manufacturer is not in the business of selling tires, but of building RV’s and getting them out the door.  They buy the cheapest Chinese tires they can find to put on as standard equipment.  We’ve had people leave here (Iowa) and not even make the West Coast before they are calling back to complain about their tires being bald.  Put good tires on the trailer, and you shouldn’t have any problem.”

I went to a tire dealer just a couple miles from where we were staying.  My daughter and son-in-law had done business with Highlands’ Tires in Carlisle, so I felt he’d steer us right.  I asked for Goodyear tires, but they didn’t have the tire I needed.  I told him I didn’t want any Chinese tires, and he said, “That’s tough.  Almost all tires are made in China now.  The Chinese do made some really bad tires, but they can also make some good ones.  I do have some Triangle tires in the size you need, and they do give good service.”  So I bought four new Triangle ST205/75R14 tires.  It was an expensive hit on vacation, but I had no choice.

A year later, we were making the same trip a second time with roughly 4,500 miles on the tires when a tire blew.  The outer steel belt delaminated violently, not only blowing the tire, but tearing the tandem wheel skirt off the side of the trailer causing more damage.  While again trying to solve the mystery as to why a tire should blow so prematurely, I wrote to Triangle Tires on their website.  I laid out all the conditions the tire had been used under, the diligent monitoring of tire pressure, the fact that the trailer is stored inside and therefore the tires were not exposed to UV degradation, and sought their input on the cause and a solution.  They never responded.  I wrote a second time, and they never responded.  I had also given them my phone number and mailing address, as well as email address, so it wasn’t a problem of not being able to contact me.  They chose to just blow me off. 

In the previous post, I had the account of the second Triangle tire delaminating and then going flat on the paddling trip to Medicine Park, OK.  I limped back home and went straight to the Goodyear dealer.  When they took the remaining Triangle tires off, they found a third had already delaminated across half with width of the tread, and it was ready to fail as well.  That was three tires that had delaminated by the time one tire was only a year old, and two more tires were only three years old.  When they asked if I wanted to keep the remaining Triangle as a spare, I told them I wanted to be rid of them all, and put on four new Goodyear Marathons.  I’ve had a long association with Goodyear tires, and a happy one, so I’m confident we have now finally solved the problem. 

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