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Old 04-22-2016, 10:58 AM   #1
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80+ MPH RV tires !!! ?

Recently read a post on a forum where the question was asked about by-passing the speed limiter that was on the poster's Class-A unit as the poster wanted to drive faster than 80! I also see many TT owners that feel that any speed they can achieve with their high HP pick-up is OK too.

The general consensus was that 80 was not a reasonable speed in an RV and many people knew that their tires were rated for 75mph or less.

On my trip from Ohio to Oregon in 2014 I noted that many interstates now had updated the posted speed limits from the old 55 to 65, 70 and as high as 80mph. While I "puttered" along in the right lane with my cruise set at 60-62 mph, I saw all manner of vehicles whiz past me, including many RVs, some of which were clearly exceeding the speed rating of their tires. Of course I also saw a number of RV on the side of the road changing out a failed tire. Even have one fail a right rear right in front of me.

In March and April of 2015 I wrote about tire speed ratings in my blog. This is a real safety issue with potentially both short- and long-term consequences.

First off, as a professional race car driver and police driving instructor, I think it would be unsafe and foolish to drive an RV in excess of 70 mph. A quick search of the internet finds numerous charts showing the effect of increased speed on stopping distance, with large RVs needing 40% to maybe 80% more distance to come to a stop as speed increases.

At 55 mph, you will "only" need 100 feet more than the length of a football field to stop. At 80 mph, it would take you the length of three football fields to come to a stop.
While you might get lucky as you sit high above the traffic, have you asked yourself how you would feel after driving completely over a passenger car that can stop in maybe half the distance it takes you to stop, killing everyone in the car in the process?

BUT this post isn't about general driving safety, as hopefully you have a good understanding of your vehicle capabilities, having done a practice emergency stop at speed on a "closed course." I want to address the effect of speed on tire durability.

Tires have a speed rating. This is the speed at which a tire can be driven for a short time without failing immediately. For most ST type tires this is 65 mph. There are some special high load trailer tires that are only rated for 62 mph. LT tires and TBR (Truck-Bus Radials) are rated for 75 mph in RV service according to top tire companies in their RV tire brochures. If you look at the side of an LT tire you may see a "Speed Symbol" letter. An example might be LT235/85R16 114/111 Q with the 114/111 being the "Load Index" single and dual and the Letter "Q" being the speed symbol.

If you place a passenger tire or LT tire in RV service the manufacturer has lowered the speed rating to 75 max. If there is no Speed Symbol then the speed rating on the ST, LT or passenger tires I would consider it to be 65 mph.

As I wrote previously, some ST tires may be rated with a speed number or symbol by the manufacturer. This number should be molded on the sidewall. I would not trust information that is just verbal from a tire salesman.

In my "Links" post you can see information on an importer of ST type tires that has published the speed symbol for their tires as "L" which corresponds to 75 mph.
Here are some of the Speed Symbols and the corresponding max speed capability:
F = 50 mph G = 55 mph H = 60 mph J = 62 mph K = 68 mph L = 75 mph

It is very important that you understand that all the above is based on a laboratory test done on new tires. If a tire has hit a pot hole or been repaired or been parked in the sun for months, then there has been some degradation to the tire's strength and I would not expect it to pass the same test requirements. In fact, if a tire has been repaired, it's in many pieces of literature that the tire looses its speed rating.

Another bit of information to remember is that running fast will increase the temperature of a tire and as I covered in depth in my post on tire covers: "Increased temperature causes continued and accelerated chemical reaction which "ages" a tire faster than when the tire is cool. A rule of thumb would be that the rate a tire ages doubles with every 18F increase in temperature. We can see the result of old rubber on the surface. What we don't see is the more brittle rubber of the internal tire structure. As rubber gets more brittle with age it also looses strength." Running a tire at 70 rather than 60 will probably increase the internal temperature by 20 to 40F so every hour you are driving that fast is costing you two to 8 hours of tire life. Damage is cumulative and slowing down does not repair the damage you have already done.

Finally any speed rating on a tire should be treated as you do the redline speed for your engine as seen on the tachometer. You may be able to exceed that speed but at the cost of significant reduction in engine life.

Drive safe. Slow down and enjoy the journey.

I write a blog on RV tire application and safety.
Also give seminars on tires at RV events across the US. 40 years experience as tire design & quality engineer for major tire mfg. Freelander 23QB on Chevy chassis is my RV
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Old 04-22-2016, 11:16 AM   #2
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Very good post! Even if I had tires rated at 80 I would only do 60-62 while towing because of the stopping distance! You never ever know what is gonna happen!

Once again thanks for sharing you knowledge and experience!


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Old 04-22-2016, 11:27 AM   #3
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X2, I don't understand why you would ever want to go 80, in the first place. Second, most people here, I suspect are on a budget. I can't even imagine my MPG if I went to 80.

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Old 04-22-2016, 11:31 AM   #4
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My trucks tires are rated at 115 or something... I'll never do that either. At work they are 200mph...

Although some will think they should or can, I think it is more so that when you are at 62 or 65 you are not running at the max. Much more wiggle room.

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Old 04-22-2016, 11:34 AM   #5
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Thanks for the good information. I'm not a newbie but I have to admit my tire knowledge and in fact general RV knowledge was woefully inadequate until I started scanning this forum.
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Old 04-22-2016, 11:39 AM   #6
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Isn't it scary.. I was the same way and still am in a sense. It is amazing what you do not know when you don't know...

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Old 04-22-2016, 05:17 PM   #7
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The tires on my 2016 are D ply with a speed rating L and stamped max speed 75 mph. I normally tow between 65-68 mph. It just seems to pull better than at 60 mph. Remember what works for me, may not be right for you. Jm2c
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:50 PM   #8
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great informative post but idiots are called idiots for a reason. Iwould rather arrive an hour later than arrive at the funeral home years ahead of time
thanks for yor post
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:16 PM   #9
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Every tire can run 80 mph , Question is How long will it last ?
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:25 PM   #10
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A guy lost his life this AM in a Chevy pickup ( not towing) traveling down the hill and through the curves because he was in too big of hurry and 55 was too slow for him. He passed like he was in a hurry to get somewhere......... ..... I guess he did reach his final destination......



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