Trailer tire lifespan is short

This past weekend it was time to get AIR BORN, the demo Sage 17, off of Lake Dillon.  The sailing season at 9017′ is coming to an end.  If ‘we at Sage’ waited until after the Annapolis Sailboat Show to get the boat off the lake there is a very good chance the water will have begun to freeze and AIR BORN wound be trapped for the winter.

Friday evening I, Dave, hooked AIR BORN’s trailer to the truck in preparation to going to Dillon on Saturday.  I did the usual quick check of the trailer’s condition, looking at the electrical system (worked), confirmed all fastenings holding trailer parts to the frame were present and snug (all good), and inspected the tires for air and condition (pressure at 50# and tires looked fine), and the Bearing Buddy’s were charged (yep).

Heading down the road the trailer seemed to be jumping around a bit more than normal.  ‘Maybe this is because there is no boat on the trailer,’ I said to myself.  After a few more miles the jumping seemed to be worse.  ‘This ain’t right’, I thought and pulled into a convenient parking lot.

Walking around the trailer I couldn’t see a thing.  I ran my hands around the tires and on one things didn’t feel right … a bulge.  The section of tire that seemed ‘off’ was resting on the pavement so I couldn’t see much.  moved the truck forward about a foot.  Looking at the tire I could clearly see that the tread was failing and cords were showing.  Back to the shop I went for a tire change!


Tire failure!

20 minutes later I had the spare in place and was again ready for the road.

I’ve discussed trailer tires before, see ‘Safer trailering – tires’, and they don’t last nor are they built like car/truck tires.  AIR BORN’s trailer tires are at least 3.5 years old, the trailer was new June ’13, and have been driven about 25,000+ miles.  The recommendation is trailer tires should replaced no less than every five years.  But, as I referenced in my ‘safer trailering’ post –

Heat breaks down the inner structures, the belts and cords, of the tire and will lead to failure.  The heat includes when the tires are just sitting and the trailer hasn’t moved.  So … you live where it is really hot – consider a three year limit.  Cooler locations lean towards a five year limit. No matter what after five years replace!

The tire that failed faces the sun when AIR BORN’s trailer is in the Sage Marine boat yard.

So, check your tires carefully folks!  I got lucky in discovering the failing tire only a few miles from the shop, not traveling at highway speeds, and the boat wasn’t on the trailer.


AIR BORN on her trailer after a fun season of sailing on Lake Dillon, CO.

AIR BORN is now back at the shop.  The local tire dealer has new rubber, two new ones, on order.

Besides the dirty task of tire changing I had a great sail Saturday with winds blowing 15-20+ kts.  Heading back to the Dillon Marina to put AIR BORN on her trailer she was going 6+ knots!


Fall colors beginning to show on Lake Dillon, CO.



3 thoughts on “Trailer tire lifespan is short

  1. Good info on trailer tires. I’ve heard seven years, not five, but they age even without miles being put on them. The 50psi pressure for that boat and trailer might be too high, however. Pressure should be set for the load to be carried, not to the max shown on the sidewall. Only use the max if the tire is carrying the max load it is designed for. If a tire has a max load of 2000 lbs, for example, but is only carrying 1500, it should be inflated to less than max pressure to account for the lesser load.


  2. Dennis. Thanks for commenting. I’ll have to politely disagree with your comment on trailer tire pressure. The #1 cause of failure is overheating almost always related to under inflation. All tire professionals I’ve engaged in conversation say inflate to max pressure. The one exception is when you are storing trailer long-term: jack up trailer so wheels are off ground; security block up the trailer; reduce tire pressure.


  3. A tire cover for the parked sunny side tire will tend to equalize the life of paired tires extending the time required for replacement considerably. I believe that covers for both boats and tires are a great investment. The lesson was learned after requiring premature tire replacement for sun damage on my first travel trailer.


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