It was that time. Yes, time to spend some money. We hate spending money.
The tires on our motorhome are very important. Literally, our lives depend on them. We need to pay close attention to not only the number of miles put on, the inflation, the wear and tear, but also the age of the tires.
Most RV tires do not get used on a regular basis. Not daily like a family car or truck. So the oils and chemicals within the rubber do not get flexed and circulated within the material of the tire itself. That is why tires on RVs tend to kind of dry rot and crack the sidewalls, or rot from the inside, or just "age out". Sometimes it looks like there is plenty of tread left and it looks just fine, but if the tires are too old, they will blow when overheated or over-inflated. It can be a real hazard. Not only can it cause a possible crash, killing yourself and others around you, but even a blowout underneath an RV can rip out important components like plumbing, wiring, holding tanks etc. We see plenty of tales of woe from other RVers with horrible damage to know that we need to watch our tires carefully.
It is recommended by most tire companies that it is good to replace RV tires after 6 to 7 years of age. Some manufacturers say 10 years. So somewhere in that range it's good to replace them. Before it's too late.
That's just what we did yesterday.
Our tires are just going on 8 years old, but we really didn't use them much over the last two years due to Covid. It was time to get some new ones. Past time. Steve likes the Toyo Tires and that has been the brand we have been running on our motorhome ever since we got it back in 2006.
Steve called around and checked prices, and it turns out the very best prices are from the same exact place we got the tires from last time. To make matters even more interesting, the tires are $27 LESS for the same exact tire than it was before! Imagine that???
We asked for the freshest tires possible and they found some that were made within the last 5 months.
When reading a date code on a tire, it's a 4 digit number stamped on during the manufacturing process. The first two digits are the number of the week, and the last two digits are the last two digits of the year that it was made. So a number date of say 4521 means it was made in the 45th week of 2021.
They had all 6 of them in stock and ready for us, on hold, waiting for a good day for us to drive down there and get them installed.
When we had the grandson over on last Sunday, he helped Steve remove the pretty stainless steel liner and rings and caps from each of the tires as well as the front cover over the spare tire. The wheels look kinda ugly in the pic below.
We carefully backed it out of it's winter resting spot alongside of the garage, even though we have some ice and snow on that side of the driveway. With me outside on the passenger blind side guiding, and Steve backing up, we were able to get it free of it's snowy berth and parked in the driveway.
The sun was shining and the pavement was dry. No ice or sleet or salt or wet slush to spray up all over the motorhome. Once we were sure that we were out of the snow, we called the tire place to see if we could arrange to have the tires balanced and mounted and put on the motorhome in the afternoon. They said "Yes! Come On Down!"
It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon to take a drive. It is 60 miles one way to this tire supplier in Appleton. We tossed in a few things and our credit card, and hit the road.
Just look at this happy man as he's driving his motor home again. It's been a long, long winter and it sure feels good to get behind the wheel and fire her up and head on out. This motorhome is his "old man retirement hobby car" and he loves the chance to get in and take it for a spin.
The dash heater works quite well, and we were comfortable even though it was only 21° outside. Little Binney nestled into her hidey-hole spot under the dash by my feet on the passenger side. She has a little bed there and she's very happy to go along for a ride. She doesn't know where we're going, she doesn't care. Just as long as she is with us. That's all that matters to her.
Even though it was only 21° out, that intense spring rays of the sun were really warming us up. Can you imagine this, we even saw a motorcycle rider out for a jaunt?? As we got closer down south towards Appleton, they have less snow than we do up in Oconto, but it still was plenty cold. What a die hard motorcycle rider to get out on a sunshiny day in early March. Guess he loves his bike as much as Steve loves his motorhome.
We arrived a little early at Ray's Tire
on Bluemound Road in Appleton.
We pulled right up where we were parked last time,
we are too tall to fit in their work bays.
1121 N. Bluemound Dr.
Appleton, WI 54914
Here is what we ordered:
Six new Toyo tires, mounted and balanced and new metal valve stems.
255/70R22.5 H 140/137 Toyo M122
date codes all less than 6 months old.
Both Harry and Mark jumped into action, even though we were earlier than what we originally agreed upon. Right away they started removing the two passenger rear tires first.
To make their job easier, Steve ran the hydraulic power leveler jacks for them on each section of the motorhome as they worked their way around, one tire at a time. They were busy removing wheels, removing the tires from the rims, then putting the new tire on the rim, balancing and then mounting it back into place.
They did one portion at a time and Steve was able to operate the hydraulic jacks for them. That way they didn't have to use their floor jacks or make us worry about them punching through into a holding tank or a storage compartment. We've heard horror stories from other RV people when they've had tires changed.... so this made it really easy for them, plus Steve could supervise their process at the same time. It really helps when having a motorhome worked on to be able to observe what the workers are doing. I know some places don't like that. Or sometimes they throw out the excuse of "their insurance doesn't allow you in the repair area". But when you're talking this big of a rig and this big of investment, we prefer to stay with the rig and observe everything that's being done. In the past, with our other old motorhome, we had a VERY bad experience with what happens when you leave it in the hands of a repair shop unsupervised. We never want to go through that again!
Steve has a little switch panel in this rear compartment to lower and raise the levelers as needed. Or it can be done from inside of the rig on the dash with a duplicate set of switches.
While they had the dually wheels off, Steve was able to examine the hubs and check things over underneath there. Good time to give it a good go-round after it's been sitting all winter.
Steve also inspected each tire as it was mounted onto the rims to make sure that they all had the proper date codes as promised. It's nice that Steve was able to verify everything, because once the tires are on, it's kind of hard to read the codes, especially on the inside dually wheels.
I popped out of the rig for a little while to watch the process and take a few pictures. When they inflate or deflate tires they use this big red iron cage in case something goes wrong.
They also put the tires on this huge balancing machine.... it is amazing that it can hold up those big heavy tires and spin them perfectly after the guys put on the appropriate weights at each section of the rim. Each tire is balanced to run on the road and not wear the tread in odd spots.
We also had new metal valve stems put on. This is very important. Rather than the braided ones which can be faulty and leak, especially on the inner duallys. Having metal valve stems is imperative.
They even took the tire off the front spare tire rack for Steve and put one of our used tires in place of the other older spare.
Now by rotating one of these into it's place, we have a pretty reliable spare if need be. Hopefully we never need to use it.
While the guys were busy doing the tire stuff, I made lunch. Before leaving the house, I had grabbed a container of frozen beef minestrone soup, a loaf of bread, some salami and some crackers. I made lunch inside on the stove in the comfort of our motorhome. It felt good to be inside my little motorhome kitchen and cooking again.
The sun was shining in and it was just an absolute beautiful day, even if it was cold. There wasn't any wind blowing so the intensity of the spring rays kept us nice and cozy and warm inside the motor home. I kicked on the big propane furnace for a while to help warm things up. I also went around with my clipboard and made a list of the things that I need to replenish or restock for the upcoming camping season. I like to make lists when I am in the rig, and add to it as I think of things.
I turned on the TV for a while and scanned in the stations. Binney and I spent a while watching This Old House, while the guys were finishing up the tires outside. We may have even dosed off a bit.
They were on the final set of dually tires on the back driver's side and I hopped out to take one more picture. They had all 6 tires done, plus the spare swapped over in less than 2 hours total!
When Steve went in to settle up the bill, it was amazing that the tires were actually $27.00 less per tire than what they were the last time we bought them. No increase in labor for all the other stuff either.
Here is what we had done:
6 new Toyo tires
255/70R22.5 H 140/137 Toyo M122
date codes all less than 6 months old.
$320 each tire
$18 each to dismount the old ones and mount new ones
$14 each to do each wheel changeover
$28 each to balance each one
$5.50 each for metal valve stems
They purchased 5 tires back from us for $50 each, and we saved the 6th tire as our spare.
They mounted that on our spare rim for free.
Total amount out the door, tax and everything $2,290.41.
The shop purchased our 5 old tires from us at $50 each. They can resell these tires to truckers that use lowboy units for hauling items at slow speeds or for farmers on equipment out in their field. Because the tread is still pretty good, the tires have less than 15,000 miles on them. That was an additional $250 off our bill!
All in all, the extra savings were great. To top it off, they accepted our American Express card, which gives us an additional 5% cash back on this purchase. So that is a whopping $114 back into our pocket.
The guys had done such a good job, working quickly and efficiently with a smile on their faces. Allowing Steve to monitor every step of the way was greatly appreciated. We were sure to tip each one with a little bit of cash when the job was done, just to show how much we enjoyed working with them. Nowadays, with so many disgruntled workers and lackadaisical efforts, finding two workers like this really made a difference. I guess we don't mind spending quite so much money when we know the job is done correctly.
With new rubber all around, this happy motorhoming man had quite a smile on his face. This is something we have been wanting to do, especially before we plan to take some longer jaunts this summer and into the fall. Just look at that guy. He said the rig feels different and handles better and the tires feel really good. I'm glad he is happy.
As we travelled our 60 miles back home, we had pulled up local diesel prices on the Gasbuddy app. Around the Appleton and Green Bay area it was at $4.09 a gallon! Oh my! As we got closer up to Oconto we managed to top off our tank at the local Shell station for only $3.94 a gallon. That's 15 cents a gallon difference! Steve also had a chance to scrub off the windshield bugs from last fall that have been kind of stuck there all winter long...
As I type up this blog today, local diesel has jumped up to $4.49 a gallon---- holy cow! Are we ever glad we topped off the tank yesterday. Now we're good to go for at least 800 miles on our hundred gallon tank.
We have the motorhome parked in the driveway safe and sound. We didn't put it back in it's little nestled spot alongside of the garage for now. We're hoping some of the sunshine will melt the frozen ice alongside the garage where it had been parked all winter.
Steve put all of the shiny steel wheel liners and trim rings back on...
We used to run a Hopkins N Vision brand tire pressure monitoring system, but all of the sensors went dead over the last 2 years. The batteries within each sensor are not replaceable. The sensors are pretty pricey to order new ones, especially for 10 tires total. So we are going to invest in a new Tire Minder System with replaceable batteries in the sensors in the next month or so, before we take any trips. Just waiting to see if it goes on sale.
Want to hear something funny? Well, underneath in the gravel where the motorhome had been parked all winter, it is becoming a big huge KITTY LITTER BOX!
We see stray feral cats from time to time crossing our backyard and sneaking over to that spot on the other side of our garage this winter. Do you want to know why?
When we put new gravel in our driveway and the parking area, it's small size gravel almost like mini pea gravel. It's called "fines" from the Gravel Pit. It's a soft gravel that easily mushes flat. But you can also easily kick it up with your heel if you try. It's got a consistency of almost like kitty litter. I kid you not. And it seems that the feral cats in our neighborhood think that's a PERFECT spot to come and dig a little hole and do their business! Especially in the winter months when everything else is frozen. This gravel is still soft and diggable.
Now--- you might think that's totally awful and we should do something to get rid of those cats doing their thing in our gravel. But think of the plus side of that? With our motorhome, and our kid's motorhome parked out there, with little bits of kitties droppings buried underneath, do you think we're going to have any mice???? LOL! I think the mice would highly avoid the area because of such a scent to their sensitive little noses. So I guess it's a good thing.
Well it's another sunny beautiful day today in Wisconsin. We are up to 30 degrees. The upcoming weekend looks like it's going to be horrible. I see sleety rainy frozen blowing miserable weather so I think it's good to hunker down and hold on tight.
The kids wanted us to come up to the cabin on Saturday and help install some exterior French doors, but I think the weather is not going to cooperate. We'll see what Sunday looks like. For now, we will hunker down inside and wait for Spring.