Recommend upgrading your 13" rims to avoid these at all costs
Written: Sep 3, 2009 (Updated Sep 3, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Look nice when new.
Cons:don't old up and aren't safe: Blow outs, out of round, buldges and deformities
The Bottom Line: Were these carrying people, i'd claim buying them was suicide. If a single axle trailer, look else where or you'll be replacing the rim with the tire frequently.
I have the 13" steel rims (175 80 R13) that come OEM on many trailers (RV and otherwise) and the marathons were the OEM tire that came my Coachmen Trailer. Trailer was new in 2000, i bought it in 02. The first set held up ok. They made it through many local short camping trips within Florida, some medium ones (TN / NC and most of the south), as well as two longs ones: Grand Canyon/Utah and New England.
However on our third cross country trip which was taking us to the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, I suffered a blowout just outside of Kansis City. We heard a noise, but didn't think much of it until people started flagged us down. I had a spare and bottle jacks and quickly swapped it out only to notice that the other tire same side was about to blow too. The tread was already beginning to separate and you could see the steel belts coming through. This occurred late in the day and by the time i got the spare on, it was night, and no one was open / had any tires in stock. I vaguely recall discussing with AAA who covers roadside assistance on the RV too, but since no one was open they really couldn't direct me where they could tow it to to get new tires... Against my inclination, we decided to drive into KC and park overnight at a Walmart, hoping the second tire would last.
Well first thing in the morning, we notice axle fluid spewing out of the drive axle seal on my suburban which complicates things a little more. But that's not the focus of the review, so in short, we took that to a chevy shop to have it repaired and i asked if there were any chance they might have jack stands i could use on the back of their lot to get all 4 of my wheels off the trailer in order to go find new tires. They were kind enough to oblige and we found a guy who indeed had 4 marathons at a truck retreading shop.
Within a few hours, i had them back on the trailer, the burb's leak was fixed and we were on the road again. I think i was out $400 and they lasted us through that trip and into the next few years where due to a series of events (house sale/purchase, new baby, etc) we didn't make it out much...
Now: those original tires we replaced were at least 5 years old had over 15000 miles on them, probably over 20. Though the tread was decent, it's likely there were signs of cracking before we left Florida. I did not cover them, so i'm sure the UV had taken it's tole based on the two that weren't as severely damaged. So i'll take most of the blame on the first set.
Fast forward to 2009 as i'm making a bunch of upgrades to the trailer to accommodate us for another 3 week venture. I ordered the Dexter EZ suspension upgrade and as soon as i get the tires off i notice one of the tires is totally deformed. It's not just out of round, it's bulging in an awkward 3-dimensional way (out from the tread and where the tread meets the sidewall. I see tiny little steel wires poking out along that same area as well. The trailer has been under cover since 04/05 and i keep plywood up against the tires to protect against direct UV rays. As noted above, we hadn't taken her out much and it had been nearly a year since our last trip, but i've been told that "spotting" has not been an issue on modern tires for decades and this wasn't a flat spot.
The other three tires looked ok, so i had hoped to replace just this one and did so ($100 mounted/balanced at a local shop). This tire had typically tended to lose air, so again i'll say maybe it was partially my fault for not keeping it fully inflated....
A week later i swap out all the brake assemblies, and take it for a drive to burnish in the brakes. I bring it back to adjust the brakes afterwards and when i jack it up, i see that yet another tire has developed similar problems. Badly out of round, warped and bulging. The only thing i don't see yet on this one is steel coming though (yet).
Now this tire didn't lose air... The trailer isn't overload. These tires are rated @ a load of 1360 lbs each. The axles are rates at 2800 lbs each. My tongue weight is ~800 lbs. And on the Montana trip, when we were fully loaded, i weighed in at a cat scale and clocked in 4680 lbs on the combined axle rating. I admit i didn't weigh each axle individually, but i doubt with the weight distributing setup that they are that far off.
In talking with my fellow rvers over at rv.net, there are a lot of people who are disappointed with these tires and/or don't trust them.
I proposed upgrading my rim size to 14" just to make some other options available to me (namely Kumho which is highly rated but only comes in 14"/15" varieties). The only other tire that seems to get a lot of praise from folks like me the Maxxis. Anyway, i'm struggling on whether i should make that newly purchased marathon my new spare and buy the maxxis as i simply don't want to shell out the money for rims. I've already installed the Dexter Under/Over (underslung) conversion which puts the axles on the underside of the springs for clearance. In addition to the cost of new rims, raising the trailer (~1.25 on 14" and ~1.5" on 15" rims adds to the wind resistance / clearance issues)
So i'm stuck here this morning sure that i should go ahead and replace all four tires for the pending trip for piece of mind. But do i do so with marathons knowing they'll fail me long before the tread, maxxis in the hopes of better luck, or biting the bullet and moving to at least 14" rims....
Two other closing points. I was too young and ignorant to pay attention to date codes or manufacture on the first set of tires. However on the new ones, country of MFG is New Zealand and they were only a few months old when installed in KC. Many claim it's the origin of China that produces problematic tires in this line; however, my recent experiences dictate otherwise. However, the one i had to buy a few weeks ago, sure enough is made in China as would 3 others if i purchased though some are claiming they are being made in the US again now. The Maxxis is Thailand and the Kumho is North Korean i believe.
Anyway, if you believe china stuff is crap check the origin and regardless, check the date codes when you're buying tires...
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