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Old 03-15-2014, 05:04 PM   #1
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My First Tire Delamination

I recently got back from a big Baja expedition (more stories to come), and one of my misadventures included an explosive tire delamination. Luckily this was towards the end of my trip anyway, and no one was hurt.

I was driving along at about 70 MPH, when suddenly -- "blam thwacka thwacka thwacka..." I immediately let off the gas, and made sure the van was still going nice and straight. There was no obvious pull to one side like after a flat tire. "...thwacka thwacka thwacka..." I gently applied the brakes and pulled off the 2-lane road onto the dirt shoulder. Luckily the road edge didn't drop off too steeply, as is often the case in Baja. I jumped out, and this is what I saw:





You can see that the flapping tire tread messed up the back end of the wheel well pretty bad, and knocked off my fender flare.

Also, my exhaust pipe got squished completely flat. I went at it with the pry end of my lug wrench, twisting to widen the pipe end. I managed to make an opening of about one inch.



After swapping on my spare tire, I made it home (2000 miles later) with no issues.

Some notes:
  • Reading on the internet, I see that age is a major factor in a tire's tendency to delaminate. Sure enough, looking carefully at the date code numbers stamped onto my tires, I found that the bad tire was over 10 years old! It was one of my original tires supplied with my new Sportsmobile back in 2004. When I bought a replacement set of four tires for my 2004 Sportsmobile (which had matching date code numbers), I kept the spare tire as it still had plenty of tread (this had the old date code number).[/*:m:8wxaw7z4]
  • I also read that having a wheel that is too narrow can be a factor in tire delamination, as the narrow wheels can cause the tread to bulge up in the middle. (See here on expeditionportal.com and here on www.productreview.com.au.) Despite being personally warned by Sportsmobile, I continued to use my original stock steel 16x7" wheels with my BFG T/A KO LT285/75R16 tires which specify a minimum 7.5" rim. My bad.[/*:m:8wxaw7z4]
  • I had just recently finished a couple weeks of lower-pressure driving. Driving on Baja's washboard roads requires airing down, or the van will shake itself to death. Or at least it seems that way. I tried to keep my speed down while my tires were underinflated, and regularly check temperature (hand touch test), but I'm sure I worked my tires pretty hard. I believe my tires were fully pressurized (55 PSI) for my van weight at the time of failure, but I could have screwed that up. I measured only 30 PSI after delamination, but that's not a good test as the treadless tire had ballooned out to a significantly larger size.[/*:m:8wxaw7z4]
  • My tires are D load-rated, rather than E load-rated. I know an E-rating means a stiffer sidewall, but would this matter for tread delamination? It's not clear to me that it would.[/*:m:8wxaw7z4]

In any case, it's now time to lose the stock Ford rims and get myself some wider 16" wheels.

[edit: Here is the full story of my Baja adventure: Baja 2014.]

-- Geoff
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Old 03-15-2014, 05:11 PM   #2
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

Glad you and your SMB are safe, even if a little banged up. Never considered that the exhaust could get squashed like that.

Maybe you can find some take-offs at a place that installs lifts and new wheels/tires.


Herb
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Old 03-15-2014, 05:34 PM   #3
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

Update: I just went out back and checked ol' Baldy's tire pressure. That tire is now completely flat! So, it could very well have been punctured with a slow leak on delamination day. I might have been driving highway speeds on a tire that had dropped from 55 PSI to 30 PSI. Perfect storm.

Either that, or the delamination somehow caused a slow leak, and the air leaked out after the incident. But I wouldn't assume it would.

-- Geoff
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Old 03-15-2014, 06:49 PM   #4
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

You pushed it way to far. So much attention to so many things and you ignore, purposely, your tires.
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Old 03-15-2014, 07:09 PM   #5
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

Geoff,

What is the weight on the rear axle of your rig?

Glad you are safe!
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Old 03-15-2014, 07:16 PM   #6
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

I had a trailer tire delaminate and smash the corner and brake light on the trailer, luckily it was a tandem axle trailer, and like yours, the tire didn't blow. Not sure it had anything to do with tire pressure, but more due to the fact that it was an old tire that was probably dry rotted. It might have had a little something to do with your load rating as well, def go with E rated tires next round.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:09 PM   #7
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

Quote:
Originally Posted by edroid
What is the weight on the rear axle of your rig?
Hi Edroid -- I've shared the details before: http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=102063 but the gist is that I've measured 2800 lbs rear-left and 2650 lbs rear-right, for a total of 5450 (van with full load of stuff). For 2800 lbs, the Tire & Rim Assoc. tables show I should be running 55 PSI for my D-rated tires. 55 PSI supports up to 2925 lbs.

j.whitbread -- Unfortunately it seems I do tend to learn many of my lessons the hard way. I should have taken the rim-size warning more seriously.

-- Geoff
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:31 PM   #8
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

I know you stated it was an original tire and old but a lot of people forget about the valve stems too. I just had one fail providing a slow leak. Caught it on a trail. Makes a TPM more attractive. Glad you're OK but sorry to see the damage...ouch!
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:53 PM   #9
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

WOW, That looks bad. Good to hear you are all alright. I don't want to know what may have happened if that tire came completely apart.
To bad that didn't happen on the drivers side. I could offer you a replacement Bushwacker at least. A few months back I ran over a good size chunk of tire tread with my front right tire and it was thrown up and smashed into the rear Bushwacker. It was cracked in several places so I had to buy a new set but only needed the right side.

I always rotate my spare into the mix and replace all 5 tires at the same time.

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Old 03-16-2014, 04:16 AM   #10
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Re: My First Tire Delamination

I'll certainly echo the relief no one inside the van was hurt!

Sadly we all probably have the tendency to forget our tires, the old "if it ain't broke don't fix it........" thing----guilty as charged here myself.
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