During September, thousands of Sports Car Club of America members will tow halfway across the country to SCCA’s massive national championship events. Be it to the Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb., or the National Championship Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, some racers will arrive without an issue, while others will suffer at least one trailer tire failure. Luckily, an ounce of prevention can take you miles.
Typically, trailer tires will age out before wearing through the tread, with trailers that are stored outdoors seeing tires deteriorate at an astonishing rate. “Special Trailer tires fall under Goodyear’s six-year limited warranty,” says Doug Grassian of Goodyear Tires. “Because of end user variety in tire maintenance and trailer care, Goodyear recommends having tires dismounted and inspected by a Goodyear-authorized professional to determine if a replacement is required.”
Tire pressure is also critical to trailer performance. Incorrect tire pressure can lead to temperature-related issues and potential failures – pressures that are too high can be just as bad as too low. “We recommend following the inflation pressure called for on the placard of the trailer for optimal performance,” Grassian advises.
Another temptation of trailer owners is to install a set of Light Truck (LT) tires instead of Special Trailer (ST) tires – this is something Grassian cautions against.
“One should opt for ST over LT because of the nature of their designs: as the names suggest, ST tires are designed specifically for trailer use while LT tires are designed for Light Truck use,” he notes. “It is important to note that ST tires have higher load limits than LT tires in the same size. For example, according to the Tire and Rim Association Inc., the load limit of an LT225/75R15 is 2,205lbs at 65psi while the load limit of an ST225/75R15 at 65psi is 2,540lbs. If the ST tire is marked with a max inflation of 80psi, then the load limit would be 2,830lbs.”
Goodyear recently introduced a new trailer tire, the Goodyear Endurance, which is a departure from its previous offering. “The new Goodyear Endurance Special Trailer tire is completely modernized versus its predecessor, the Goodyear Marathon,” says Grassian. “The new product features speed rating increase to N to better enable highway [towing] speeds. Load rating increase to either load range D or E, depending on the size, to handle heavier loads [and there] are optimized tread depth and [a] decoupling groove to help the tire to remain cool while towing heavy loads.”
In the past, RACER staffers have used a variety of tires on a number of different trailers, from bias to radial, and we’re guilty of periodically using LT tires on trailers. We’ve also suffered tire failures of many types, ranging from under inflation incidents to debris punctures, so we jumped at the chance to try Goodyear’s latest offering.
The first thing we noticed when swapping the tires on our newest trailer in favor of the Goodyear Endurance was the sidewall construction. The original tires, which were relatively low mileage ST trailer tires showing significant tread wear, had floppy sidewalls. Conversely, the Endurance featured very stiff sidewalls.
After a 100-mile test tow with our typical racecar load, we found the Endurance felt like it tracked better, with the trailer less prone to hunting around its lane – and a well-mannered trailer goes a long way toward relieving driver fatigue over long trips.
Hopefully this story will act as a reminder to check your trailer’s tires before hitching up and setting off across the country with your racecar in tow. Look for cracks, worn tread, nails and any other issues – and if you have any doubts, replace the tire.