Dodging an RV tire disaster our RV at the shop in Van Horn Texas

RV Tire Failure Driving Across West Texas

We had an RV tire failure while crossing West Texas. This was a near miss. It wasn’t road damage, and we didn’t have a blowout. We dodged the bullet and came up smelling like roses. The only thing we lost was some time and not much time.

The above photo is from the front window of our RV while we were sitting inside Love’s repair center in Van Horn, Texas.

The working title of this article was Yokohama Tire Disaster! Now that it is over, it has become a tribute to the Yokohama corporation for doing the right thing and standing behind their warranty.

Not a failure?

“Tire people” only use the term failure when a tire loses air or for tread separation. We never lost air pressure or any tread. “Tire people” would rather describe my problem as an anomaly. I think they are downplaying the problem and confusing people into thinking that the issue isn’t critical. I will continue to use the term failure to describe my tire problem. Here is a photo of where the sidewall of my tire split in two places.

Our Yokohama tire sidewall split on the passenger side front tire.
Our RV tire sidewall split on the passenger-side front tire. You can see that these two black marks are not the same as the rest of the tire. It looks like I was drawing on the side wall with a Sharpie. At these splits, the inside of the tire appears to be separating at the side wall near the rim. These “cuts” are deep and go (beyond ?) the rubber on the side wall.

My RV tires are (were) Yokohama 104ZR heavy-duty truck tires, size 295-80R22.5. Although I thought the tires were “RV tires,” they are actually commercial truck tires. I would even describe them as premium-quality commercial truck tires.

As tires roll, the tire sidewall takes a beating, flexing and expanding on each rotation. This is all part of tire engineering. The air inside the tires supports the weight of the RV. The tire holds the air inside the tire. This sidewall flexing should not lead to damage. In my case, the sidewall flexing led to the damage. The faulty tire had two sidewall splits; one was a half-inch long, and the second split was less than a quarter-inch long. Had I not noticed, these two splits would (probably) have joined and made one six-inch long or longer gash.

I don’t know when the sidewall split happened. Since I inspect my RV tires every time we drive the RV (only on the outside, never the inside or between the tires), I am pretty sure the split happened while we were driving the day before from El Paso to Van Horn. I don’t like the idea that we were driving at highway speeds on a tire that had such an obvious cut.

In the last seven years of full-time RVing, we have addressed faulty RV tires twice. The first time was on our previous RV, which had Michelin RV tires that were faulty and required replacing. Michelin also stood behind their tires and helped pay for the replacement of the set. If you missed the story, here is a link. Replacing our Michelin RV tires in Montana

Van Horn, West Texas

I discovered our RV tire failure as I walked around the RV inspecting things while retracting the side rooms and getting ready to depart from our campsite. Getting ready to depart a campground requires multiple laps around the RV to check and recheck everything to ensure the RV is ready for travel. My RV tire failure was so obvious I caught it on the first lap around the RV. We spent the night in Van Horn on our way to see the 2024 solar eclipse near Dallas. Here is a link to the story about the solar eclipse. Was the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse a Total Failure?

Van Horn is 125 miles to the east of El Paso. Ciudad Juarez, is just south of El Paso.
Van Horn is a small town 125 miles to the east of El Paso. Ciudad Juarez (on the above map) is just south of El Paso.

I loved my Yokohama tires until one tire failed due to a manufacturing defect. I thought they were really tough tires. After seeing these cuts, I have changed my opinion. Maybe my RV tires were not all that tough, and I had six of them. Is it only a matter of time before I have more sidewall failures?

After seeing these cuts, I was afraid to continue driving, mostly because the failed tire was a steer tire. Being in Van Horn, Texas, we had very few service options. I had to make do with the available options. Instead of getting back on the highway to knock off another 150 miles, we drove slowly across town to the Van Horn Love’s truck stop. Love’s is one of the distributors of Yokohama truck tires.

RV tire care

We take very good care of our RV tires, especially after replacing the set on our RV in Montana. When not driving, all my tires are covered and never exposed to the weather or direct sunlight. My tires look new and don’t have any weather-related cracking. Besides keeping the RV tires covered, one of the things we do is monitor the tires every time we drive. Here are links to two stories about our RV tire pressure monitoring system. PressurePro Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Under Pressure Tire stories

One of the things I learned from Michelin was never to use a pressure washer or any chemicals other than mild soap on my RV tires. Dirty grey tires will last longer than tires treated with chemicals to make them appear black.

RV tire failures

Our previous RV tires also failed due to sidewall damage, but the damage didn’t look like the cuts on our Yokohama tires. Some people describe the failure on my Michelin tires as checking. This failure looks like thousands of small cuts and is caused by exposure to sunlight.

Because the cuts on my Yokohama tires were on my steering tires (on the front wheels), I was scared that the cuts could have resulted in a blowout, which would have been a true RV tire disaster. If we had a blowout on the freeway, at a minimum, our RV tire failure would have put us camping on the edge of the highway. A blowout at highway speeds could result in losing control of the RV. I have seen at least one video of an RV rolling over after departing the road after a tire blowout.

We don’t carry a spare tire.

We don’t carry a spare tire or the tools necessary to change a tire in our RV. My RV tires are too big to be changed except by a truck repair shop. Instead of carrying a spare tire, we subscribe to an RV emergency roadside rescue and towing service. Repairing a tire on the shoulder of the freeway would be a huge pain. I am very glad we didn’t have our RV tire failure on the freeway or even in a town smaller than Van Horn.

While driving across Van Horn, we kept the speeds to less than twenty miles per hour down Main Street. We even stopped once on the way to the truck stop so I could take another look at the tires and decide if I was going to drive any further. My biggest fear was that we couldn’t find replacement tires of the same size because Van Horn isn’t a huge town.

When we departed the campground, I wasn’t sure Love’s was the destination, but I knew we weren’t going to get on the freeway. I knew we would not go further than necessary to replace the tire.

At the Love’s Truck stop

The Love’s truck stop in Van Horn is smaller than most truck stops. It has limited maneuvering room, but we pulled in anyway and headed for the repair area of the truck stop rather than the fuel lanes. After pulling in, I found a mechanic (George) to consult with, and when he saw my tire, his first comment was “holy shit.” George didn’t call our RV tire failure an anomaly. George also confirmed that the cut wasn’t road damage. I trust his experience… George changes truck tires every day, all day long.

We had pulled out of the campground early that morning, which was a good decision. I didn’t know that Van Horn Love’s repair shop operates on a first-come, first-served basis. We were there early enough to be first in line. Unfortunately, the Yokohama tires at Love’s did not match the tire size I had on my motorhome.

In fact, Love’s didn’t have any tires that would match my failed RV tires. So George took the next step and called El Paso, but they also didn’t have any tires to match my RV tire size. It was starting to look like we would spend a few days in Van Horn. The story was the same for every town anywhere near Van Horn. Then George called the local NAPA auto parts store and found the correct-size tires in Van Horn.

While George was calling around to find tires, I called Yokohama for help and looked at the Yokohama warranty. Yokohama’s warranty is for seven years, and my tires were under five years old. Yokohama’s website and warranty pages outlined what I should do to establish a warranty claim. However, a warranty claim wouldn’t put us back on the road.

Our Yokohama tire date code.
Our Yokohama tire date code shows that my tires were manufactured in January 2019. This key information proved that my RV tires were within the warranty period.

Yokohama also had some tire recalls in the last few years for truck tires. I followed the Yokohama-recommended procedure and replaced both steering tires to make sure they matched and were the same size. My tires, however, were not part of the recall.

Getting tires from NAPA

My next step was to go to NAPA and pay for the new tires. I was very happy that Love’s had a truck to go pick them up.

My call back from Yokohama

I left a message for the Yokohama tire rep first thing in the morning, and I was surprised that I got the primary manager for Love’s Yokohama tire account before my NAPA RV tires were installed. We discussed the failure, and I sent him a couple of photos via text message during the conversation. He also checked the inventory, and there were no matching Yokohama RV tires near me. During this conversation, he agreed with my decision to replace both of the front tires even though only one had failed.

The tread depth on my RV tires is between 10 and 11 mm. Brand new Yokohama tires had a tread depth of 16 mm (to the wear bars). My five-year-old RV tires had plenty of life in them until the failure!

Back on the road

We left Van Horn on brand-new front tires in the early afternoon, early enough to keep our next scheduled stop in Odessa.

Discussing the warranty

The mileage on my Yokohama tires since new to the failure in Van Horn was 31,825. Commercial trucks would have put this number of miles on a set of tires in less than one year. In terms of life, my tires were less than one-half of the total miles you would expect from a set of tires.

Yokohama has a good reputation for being responsive and recalling commercial truck tires, stating that they act as an expression of caution. I emphasized that I wanted Yokohama to apply this cautious attitude toward my tires.

During the discussion, I emphasized that I had one tire failure and replaced two. My biggest concern was that I also had four other Yokohama tires that were made at the same place during the same month. I cannot inspect my remaining tires for defects except for the rear tires’ outward face. The inside rear tires and the insides of the dual tires could only be inspected by removing all the tires from the drive axle.

I may have defective tires at the rear of the RV and would never know about them except due to air loss. Since all six tires were made at the same time and at the same location, even if the rear tires don’t already have these splits near the bead, it doesn’t mean that they won’t split soon.

To the best of my knowledge, my tires were not subject to a recall even though they are the same age and seem to have a similar failure potential as tires recalled in 2020. “Due to improper manufacturing, the tire tread or bead may detach, possibly resulting in loss of vehicle control.” (This quote was part of the Yokohama tire recall.) I assume since my failure was near the bead, the defect would have affected the bead.

I wanted Yokohama to recall my RV tires out of an “abundance of caution.” Yokohama has made two voluntary recalls of 13,000 tires in the last two years. Unlike my tires, these recalled tires did not show any obvious defects.

Another statement from Yokohama supports the above “abundance of caution” remedy for defective tires. “Yokohama will replace free of charge any tires subject to this recall with tires of comparable value. This replacement includes the cost of mounting and balancing the replacement tires. If a single tire needs to be replaced, Yokohama will allow both tires on a steer axle to be replaced with new Yokohama tires” (Yokohama TSB)

At the beginning of this year, I would have told you that I would probably have at least four more years of life out of my tires (installed in 2019). Frequent trips are good for the tires. Sitting for long periods without use is bad for tires. We don’t drive all that far each year compared to commercial trucks. Long life assumes proper care, maintenance, and frequent inspection as they age. On my previous RV, I had Michelin tires that also failed. Their warranty period was seven years, and they estimated that the tires could last ten years with proper annual inspections.  

Michelin recommends frequent tire inspections, especially before long trips. “Michelin recommends that any tires that are ten years or more from the date of manufacture (DOT), including spare tires, be replaced with new tires as a precaution even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit.” I assume that Yokohama agrees with the Michelin recommendations, but I couldn’t find anywhere where Yokohama spells it out like Michelin does.

My new tires have a problem.

As recommended by Love’s, I purchased the only replacement tires of the correct size in Van Horn at the NAPA Auto Parts store. My new RV tires caused the motorhome to pull to the right. We needed an alignment shop that specialized in large trucks, and we found one in El Paso.

Sign at Stanley Spring and Suspension at El Paso Texas.
Stanley Spring and Suspension at El Paso, Texas.

My motorhome didn’t pull with my Yokohama tires. The pulling was getting pretty bad by the time we got to an alignment shop. There was a slight toe-in on both front wheels.

Our RV approaching the alignment rack at Stanley Spring and Suspension
Our RV approaching the alignment rack at Stanley Spring and Suspension
The rear wheel of our RV sitting on the alignment rack. The black part of this device is a laser that is pointed at a similar device on the front wheel.
The rear wheel of our RV while it was sitting on the alignment rack. The black part of this device is a laser that is pointed at a similar device on the front wheel.

Yokohama paid

When it was all over, Yokohama paid for my new tires and alignment. Now, I need to monitor my rear (Yokohama) tires for any anomalies they might have. If I find one, you can bet I will be back on the phone with Yokohama.

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Replacing our Michelin RV tires in Montana

PressurePro Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Under Pressure, Tire stories

Yokohama 104ZR commercial truck tire

Yokohama Tire Warranty

Was the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse a Total Failure?


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12 thoughts on “RV Tire Failure Driving Across West Texas”

  1. You two are very lucky – what tires did NAPA provide? Also, note for passenger vehicles most car washes like to shine up your tires’ side walls. I have been told this does the same thing to side walls that your advice says: “One of the things I learned from Michelin was never to use a pressure washer or any chemicals other than mild soap on my RV tires. Dirty grey tires will last longer than tires treated with chemicals to make them appear black.” Generally though most people replace passenger tires in five years or less; so the problem apparentlly is not acute and we do not hear much about passenger vehicle sidewall tire failures. Last, credit to Yokohama for going even beyond what they could have done; look at the number of readers that will now consider Yokohamas on their vehicles. I will!

    1. NAPA had some commercial truck tires in stock distributed by American Tire Distributors and sold under the name Hercules. You are correct. Cleaning passenger car tires isn’t an issue. Most cars will wear out the tread well before having a sidewall problem. Sidewall failures for passenger cars still happen, but not nearly as often now that cars have built-in TPMS systems warning of low pressure.

  2. Wow. That is scary to have a steer tire fail so soon. Glad you caught it time and had a “happy ending BTW – We use Toyo and have been very happy with them (over 6 years).

  3. Jersey Jack Lyle

    Glad y’all made it thru the ordeal safely. Great that you published your experience so that other RV’s are informed. Keep on safely RV’ing your way & have FUN 🤗❤️

  4. I’d like to chime in from a “retired tire professional” point of view.
    1. The damage that was spotted on your steer tires appears to be Chafer Ply Separation. At the edge of the radial steel ply, there is a reinforced body ply added to protect the radial ply from damage. The damage runs circumferentially, and the cracks would eventually grow and connect together. You spotted very quickly: good observation! With that being said, and I don’t own a crystal ball, the tire would not have immediately catastrophically failed at highway speeds. Was the condition reversible? No. You did the smart thing and exercised due diligence until you got more facts.
    2. What causes this condition? The American Trucking Association has a technical arm called the TMC (Technology Maintenance Council) and this council has a tire and wheel study group. They publish “Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide” to help the trucking industry understand what is happening with tires- probable cause and actions to follow. Most tire manufacturers participate in this book, including Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, Bridgestone, and Yokohama. According to this book, the “Probable Causes” include “possible manufacturing conditions, over-deflection which can be caused by overload/underinflation, improper bead seating, improper rim width, or the application in which the tire is used.”
    Actions to follow: “remove tire from service and consult tire manufacturer”
    Actions to follow, operationally: “ensure proper rim width, mounting procedures, and inflation pressures are utilized and overloaded conditions are avoided. Review operational usage.”

    There is a lot to unpack there. First, I’m glad to hear the Yokohama stood behind their tires- I work with their technical team and they are solid in their knowledge. I have no inside knowledge about production concerns that can lead to a recall, but I researched the NHTSA website to see what recalls they’ve had for the 104R, or anything in the 295/80R22.5. I did not find anything connected with this tire, so that should reassure you.

    Every tire manufacturer has had recalls, like it or not, so it is really important to dig deep to make sure that your tire was (or wasn’t) recalled. The recall you found was targeted to production from their Mississippi factory, during the COVID shutdown. Due to the huge potential fines/penalties/jailtime that can happen if a tire manufacturer does not recall tires that could have issues (since the Ford Explorer/Firestone issue that happened, resulting in the TREAD Act of 2001), there are more recalls today than there were in the 90s. I believe your tires were made overseas and not in Mississippi, so your tires weren’t included in their recall. I hope that reassures you about the other 4 tires!

    So what could have caused the chafer ply to show signs of separation?
    Manufacturing- here is one example of what COULD happen, and I do NOT know if this was the case with your tire, but IF the products were not layered properly during production, and IF the body ply ending was too close to the chafer ply ending, then there COULD be an unwanted stress point during flexing that, over time, would present itself as a crack. This is not a technical diagnosis, but a possibility that COULD happen. (I hear my dad saying, “if Its and Buts were sugar and nuts, everyday would be Christmas!”)

    Operational- there are several possibilities:
    Operationally, your motorhome came on 22.5 x 8.25″ wheels, right? When you look at technical documents for any 295/80R22.5 tire, the “design width” is actually the 9.00″ wheel, with the 8.25″ listed as the alternative. In Europe and Australia, where this tire size is extremely popular, these tires are commonly fitted on 9.00″ wheels. So when tire manufacturers dive into their failure analysis of removed tires, the bucket of 295/80s being used on 8.25″ wheels is very small -> that is to say, pretty much only in North America, and only on motorhomes! And if you look at the tire manufacturer’s market share in North America for 295/80R22.5s, Michelin would have the bulk of the data, because they own the OE fitment. My point is that Yokohama would not have any usage data to support why the tire started to crack near the bead area.

    When a tire is designed on one wheel width, and then it is fitted on a wheel that is not as wide, we are changing the flex points on the sidewalls…. kind of like always walking around with your stomach sucked in, your posture changes. The tire designer “should” know this, but again, with not a lot of practical usage experience on the different platforms, circumferential cracking can ensue. And if the tire has rotated 31,825 miles- at 503 revolutions per mile, that is about 16 million rotations, with a flex point that is not exactly as designed. I would not be surprised if the other 4 tires develop the same condition, if the reason this happened is because the tire was fitted on the 8.25″ wheel.

    You mentioned your inflation pressure was correct for the load, and I believe you- however, if the tire was ever underinflated for the load, then there is additional stress transferred to the bead area. Even if this was a “short term” overload, permanent damage can result which would present itself later in time.

    As for “operational usage”, a couple of possibilities- 1. Tires sitting for extended periods of time, underinflated… theoretically possible for a motorhome that is in storage for a long period of time- in this scenario, the damage would happen due to the static load, and would be limited to about 1/3rd of the sidewall (where it was loaded down and not moved), and all 6 tires would be culprit. I don’t think this describes your adventures, but it may apply to some of your followers. 2. Tires exposed to frequent/high braking situations, like garbage trucks….. not something we’d find in the motorhome industry. There are probably more operational conditions, but those are two off the top of my head.

    Finally, Hercules Tire is a private brand tire that is owned by Cooper Tire. If my memory serves me right, these tires were probably made in their factory in Thailand. I looked through the NHTSA website for any recall information, and I did not find anything for this tire.

    From my experience with “tier 3″ tires (no-names offered at lower prices), you are getting a black round tire. Yes, it would be a safe tire, but the uniformity criteria that you find in brand name tires like Michelin and Yokohama is probably not the same as you find with no-name brands…. kind of like Charmin or cheap toilet paper -> whether it’s rough on the bum or not, it’s going to get the job done when you need it.

    With that being said, the Hercules Strongman is offered with a ride disturbance warranty, for the first 2/32” of tread life… so after your motorhome has been aligned, if you still feel the ride disturbance, you need to file a claim with Hercules sooner, not later. Their warranty is for free replacement with the same Hercules’ tire, so if you find a tire dealer that has the inventory on hand, he can change out the tires with ones that may have better uniformity, if you have the time and inclination to do so.

    Another option would be to move these tires to a drive position and replace the steer tires with Michelin X Coach Z. The advantage to going back to Michelin is the availability across the US and their warranty, along with the ride performance. The new X Coach Z has “Infinicoil” technology, which is a circumferential steel cable wrapped around the steel belts, so if there is a catastrophic failure, the Infinicoil is designed to keep the tire intact to allow you to get to the shoulder.

    I hope you find this information useful… this was a “what time is it?” and I told you how to build the watch, ha ha. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Pat.

    I’ll include links to the Hercules warranty and to the X Coach Z below.

    1. Pat, I should have sent you the photo and let you write my article. Thanks so much for reading it and responding. Not many bloggers have such professional technical support. I feel very fortunate.

  5. As a retired tire design and forensic engineer, I find Pat’s comments sound and reasonable. Without more information, I do not know if Yokohama steel body tires have a “Chafer Ply “. If Yoko is adjusting the tires then they know what they are doing. The only comment I have is some of the words in the original write-up such as ” manufacturing mistake,” or “defect” when we do not know the actual Root Cause. The terms “cut”, “Split” and “crack” do not have identical meaning, a “defect” is a condition that is specific and can be identified. but I can understand that as a layman and not a tire engineer you would not have the training to be consistent in the terminology. While the “cracks” could be the result of some manufacturing issue. If they are “cuts” then the cause of a cut would be external and have nothing to do with manufacturing.

    In my seminars on Tire Failure I offer the example of finding a dead person and immediately claiming a murder or gun shot. We have all watched enough “Murder Mysteries” to know that first impressions are not always correct.
    I would be comfortable with calling the conditions lower sidewall “cracks” until more information and inspection is completed.

    (Rodger’s company is Rodger writes several articles about RV tire safety for

    1. Other than George, who first claimed that the cracks were not road damage, we don’t have any experts who have seen the tries. Unfortunately, rather than saving the tires for Yokohama, Loves either disposed of them somehow or lost them. When Yokohama showed up to claim the tires, they were gone.

      The cracks appeared to be partial cuts, so I described them as such, but they may have been splits rather than cuts. Without the tires, no one will ever know exactly what the correct term might be unless the rear tires show the same issues. Then maybe we will know the correct term.

  6. I like to err on the side of caution also. Glad this worked out for you. RV’ers take tires for granted. I buy my tires from Discount and they are Coopers. Our rig is lightweight compared to yours and our LT tires are only good for 5 years. I typically change them in groups, so not all at once. I have a tag axle so they tend to wear out faster than 5 years. In fact, these last tags only lasted a year. I have had 2 times now where the tread has started separating on the tags. Luckily I was close to a Discount. My complaint was it needs to be balanced. They showed me how it was separating and how to watch for it down the road. It is always best to carry road hazard insurance on the tires. It is always best to err on the side of caution. Replacing tires is cheaper than the damage caused by a failure on the road.

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