Thursday, September 27, 2012

What About The Leaking Aluminum Trailer Wheels?

Question: What did you decide to do about your trailer wheels?

Answer: Actually I decided to do nothing for the moment....

Back Story:
If you remember, I put new tires on the trailer in June while in Owensburg, Indiana. 300 miles later one of my aluminum rims started leaking through the metal itself. I was told that while it was uncommon it was not unheard of for the aluminum to become porous and start leaking. Most tire guys said it was a fluke. I was very thankful I caught before I ruined the new tire.

No problem, my spare was aluminum too so I put the new tire on that rim and bought a new steel rim for my old but hardly used spare tire. It was obvious the spare had never been used when I put it on in Missouri but it was too old for regular use. I figured it would be fine for a spare.

Wrong! While coming back from Montana I noticed one of the tires was very low and it had went down that low in only two hours driving. I took that tire off and put on the new steel rim with the old but new looking spare that would surely work temporarily...

17 Miles later it blew out in dramatic fashion.

The details are HERE but needless to say the reason for the low tire was another leaking rim. You still can't see the hole/crack with your eye but with the tire inflated and submerged in water, it sprays water every where. Now with Two wheels going bad it is starting to less like and fluke and more like a pattern. A pattern that I do NOT want to repeat 5 more times.

What to do?
I have a few different options. One thing for sure, I definitely do not trust the original aluminum rims long term.

1. I could by 6 new aluminum rims and have the new tires installed on them and quit worrying. All of the lowest estimates came in at about $900-1000 for this option.

2. I could buy 6 steel rims and have the new tires installed on them. The estimates for this were about $600 plus the cost of wheel coverings of some kind for all 6 wheels.

3. I could buy 1 aluminum rim and hope the two bad ones really were flukes. That would cost about $150.

I do not like #1 because of the upfront cost. There are other areas where I could spend the money more effectively and even prudently right now.

I do not like option #2 because I really do not want steel rims all the way around on this trailer. After I bought wheel coverings the cost savings would not be worth it.

I did not like option #3 because I can not convince myself that the 2 bad wheels were flukes and that I can trust the other 5. I tried hard but can not get it done in my head.

I thought it over, made lots of phone calls and solicited some good advice. Then I decided to do nothing.

Here is my thinking on this. When I left Ohio in August I only had about 1500 more miles to pull the trailer before parking it for the winter. Surely I could get 1500 more miles out of those 5 rims couldn't I? Yeah, I know I was WAY wrong about using the old spare tire but could I be THAT wrong twice in one summer? Sure I could, but lets not talk about the odds, OK?

IF I could make it until October then I would not have to do anything until the middle of March. Besides, what is the use of putting $1000 into rims just so they can almost immediately sit all winter?

Here is the plan I came up with when I decided to do Nothing.

Tow this bad boy a few more miles and park it for the winter.

Between now and March find a good deal on an appropriate tire pressure monitoring system. These things have advanced quite a bit the last few years and since I am a nut about tire pressure I have been looking at these any way. We found those two low tires because we diligently check them when we stop. What if I could monitor the pressure and temperature constantly? Of course I know that God has a way of guiding our steps and our eyes. But what if I had not stopped then? What if I had passed the rest area and driven just a few more miles? A tire pressure monitoring system would have caught it before I did.

I still would not trust the 5 old aluminum rims long term but with a way to monitor them closely I could replace one or two wheels each month and not take a huge hit to the budget. Of course the monitoring system costs money but it is an expense we had been considering or even anticipating and it should serve us well for years.

I hope that answers your question. Thanks to all that were interested enough to ask. You may never ask another question again! Lol

What do you think of my plan?