Friday, September 15, 2017

Axle Alignment

Believe it or not, our 16 foot trailer's single axle needs to be aligned!  We bought two new 205 75R 14 radial tires in April 2016, not even 18 months ago.  We've kept a close eye on them and checked their pressure before each day of travel.  We've studiously kept them at precisely 50 pounds.  We've even used a digital non-contact laser thermometer to monitor their temperatures to make sure the temps are not excessive.  In short, we thought we were doing everything "right & proper."  NOT!

We've been noticing rapid and excessive wear on the outer groove of both tires, especially the passenger side tire. The wear really accelerated during out last two Road Trips which covered less than 2000 miles between both of them.

Today, we used a manual tread depth gauge to measure the groove depth of each tire.  After tallying the data, we became dutifully concerned.  The outer groove on the passenger side had dropped into the red zone with only 2/32nds of tread left.  The tires had a uniform depth of 9/32nds in each groove when purchased now.  Now look at them:

We spent quite a bit of time online and came to the conclusion the excessive outer wear was due to a mis-aligned axle.  But how would we determine how to verify that diagnosis?  Luckily, we found a great website explaining how to check axle alignment.  All it took was a four foot level and a tape measure. See:

Well, practically the minute we used the level and tape measure, we learned the axle was canted out of alignment.  Luckily, our neighbor knew of an outfit here that can realign axles.  We scurried over there last on a Friday afternoon. The guys there knew immediately what the problem was as soon as I described my measurements and the tread wear.  They both did a bobble head belly laugh when I told then it was a 29-year-old trailer.  Then they rattled off what it would need and said the cost would be somewhere between $75 and $150.  We agreed to drop off the trailer Monday after lunch.

Of course, we're now going to have to buy two new tires, too.  We figure the whole job will probably cost out around $400.  But it's surer worth it for the peace of mind that comes with knowing we probably just avoided an inevitable blowout somewhere down the road.

When you start getting into red zone tread depth on the outside of a tire, it's time to pay attention or pay the price!

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