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  1. #1

    Towing at high speed/long distance with small tires 8 inch

    Hi all, first post:

    I'm buying an XLT1200 (about 800lbs) and the seller is offering me either a trailer that is pretty low-profile with 8" wheels or a heavier duty trailer with I believe 10 or 12 inch wheels (not sure yet). I tow with a Saturn Vue Redline (as low as a car for all intents and purposes) that as AWD and has a Honda V6 (250HP). I'd like a low trailer so I don't have to get the SUV into the water if at all possible since its actually my wife's car. The ramps near me are all concrete, and I won't be seeing any salt water or beach launches (I'm in Dallas).

    Most lakes I will be going to are within 60 minutes via highway from my home. I'll be making about 1 trip a year that is a 4-hour drive (Oklahoma). With the lower profile trailer, the ski will sit lower and I will hopefully not have to get the SUV wet, but I'm concerned that I won't be able to go that fast on the highway without potentially overheating the bearings. The taller tires will run cooler, but may require me to dunk the back bumper, maybe even up to the rear axle into the water. I know that trailer tires are not rated for speeds higher than 55mph regardless of size, but realistically I'm only towing 1500 pounds with a vehicle that can tow 3500 with no issues.

    What would be the better choice, assuming both trailers are in the same condition?

    Thanks in advance!


  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    How old are the trailer tires?

    How old are the trailer bearings?

    Trailer tires generally die from age and weather exposure, not tread wear. After about five years, trailer tires are no longer anywhere near as flexible or as tough as they were when new. Trailer tires between 5 and 7 years old should be considered 'old' and ready for retirement.

    If you are at all concerned about the tires, replace them before you tow. Often you can purchase new replacement tires already mounted on the wheels for not much more than the cost of tires alone.

    Depending on the axle/hub bolt spacing, you may be able to install larger diameter metal wheels and larger tires on that trailer. Keep in mind that for every two inches larger in tire outside diameter (not metal wheel diameter) that the new tires are, the trailer frame only rises up one inch. The tire tops would also get one inch closer to the fenders. Make sure enough room remains for the suspension to flex upwards without the larger tire hitting the fender.

    Wheel bearings. Be sure to raise up each side of the trailer and check the bearings. With the weight off the tire, the wheel should spin smoothly, with zero wobble, slop, or bearing grind. If there is any question regarding either bearing, take the hub apart and replace the bearings with new. Each side will have an inner and outer bearing, plus a grease seal.

    After checking the bearings on both sides, if there is a Zerk fitting to add grease be sure to pump some high quality bearing grease into each side using a grease gun.

    Also check the entire trailer over for damage, loose or missing bolts/nuts, etc. And of course check the wiring for damage, frayed connections, cut wires, etc.

    Test the trailer lights by plugging the trailer connector into your tow vehicle without the trailer hitch hooked up, or even touching the car. Just have the trailer coupler positioned near the tow ball so the wire will reach, and test the lights. They should work properly without the trailer hitch hooked up. If they don't work properly, find and fix the problem.
    Last edited by K447; 06-06-2012 at 10:45 PM.

  3. #3
    So it looks like I've got my work cut out for me, regardless of trailer chosen. From what I've been reading, it seems like the 8" wheels will not be an issue for the speed I choose to drive (65mph when I'm towing is fine for me), but more importantly, I should level set the bearings and tires by going new. I know that the tires & bearings are somewhat old, but not 100% sure. Better to be on the safe side and spend a little now to save headache later. Are wider tires subject to more sway and bounce than narrow tires? I really want to stick with the lower profile, but I want a safe ride most importantly.

  4. #4
    Moderator RX951's Avatar
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    welcome to the forum

  5. #5
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 95ssman View Post
    ... it seems like the 8" wheels will not be an issue for the speed I choose to drive (65mph when I'm towing is fine for me)

    ...Better to be on the safe side and spend a little now to save headache later.

    Are wider tires subject to more sway and bounce than narrow tires? I really want to stick with the lower profile, but I want a safe ride most importantly.
    Pay attention to the weight rating (Load Range, or Load Rating) of the replacement tires.

    Don't assume the tires that are on there are the correct rated tires. Add up the maximum weight of the PWC (including any fuel + oil + whatever else is stored inside), plus the weight of the entire trailer. Divide that number by two (because you have two tires supporting the trailer), then add [U]at least[10% /U] more for safety.

    That is the minimum weight rating of the tires you need. You can always install higher weight rated tires, just not lower.

    I would add 200+ pounds to the manufacturer specified 'dry weight' for your PWC. 18.5 gallons of gasoline adds about 120 pounds. Then there is oil, and gear stowed on board. So 800 + 200 = 1000+ lbs.

    Trailer may weigh 200 lbs, maybe more. Call it 1300 pounds all together. Adding another 10% brings it to 1430 pounds. Round that up to 1500 pounds total weight. So each tire must be rated for 750 pounds, or more.

    4.80 by 8 inch tires come in Load Range B, rated 590 lbs per tire. Load Range C in the same tire size will support 760 pounds per tire, but requires 90PSI air pressure. So that is your minimum tire spec - Load Range C in the 4.80 x 8 size.



    The wider 5.70 x 8 tires in Load Range B is rated for 715 lbs at 50 PSI. A touch minimal on the weight rating, but probably would be OK - just.



    Even wider, the 16.5 x 6.5 x 8 tire are rated for 785 lbs, in Load Range C, at 70 PSI.



    18 x 8.5 x 8 tire in Load Range B is rated for 760 lbs, at 35 PSI. I have not used these, but it looks like this would be the softest riding tire of this group. You would need to confirm that the wider tire will still fit inside the fenders, of course.



    If you intend to tow above the rated maximum speed for ST trailer tires, then add another 10% to the required tire load rating. Speed adds heat, so the tire's sidewall load rating gets de-rated when running at higher speeds.

    In general, you will be running with the tires inflated to the maximum pressure listed on the trailer tire sidewall. This provides the best resilience to road craters and curb impacts.

    For a given tire size, the higher the load range (Load range C is higher than Load range B) the higher the air pressure it needs. And that translates to a harder ride.

    If a wider trailer tire provides the same or higher load rating, but does so at a lower air pressure, then I would expect it to ride smoother.

  6. #6

    the 16.5 x 6.5 x 8 tire are rated for 785 lbs,


    I used this size all last season without any issues, and made a trip or 2 long distance, tires temps were good as was bearing hubs...
    another important issues is to have the correct bearing preload/setting. not to tight and not to loose and a good quality bearing grease...
    if it suits you, you can purchase new hubs already loaded with bearings and grease ready to go relatively cheap, under 50 each.

  7. #7
    I've been researching the "Turbo-Lube" oil bearing/hub assembly--they seem to run MUCH cooler than a standard greased bearing. Is that marketing hype I'm falling prey to? I know that's a separate search I can do, but it does dovetail into this conversation.

    Great info so far folks--thank you

  8. #8
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    For these light weight (relatively speaking) PWC trailers there just isn't that much heat or load on the bearings. Good quality wheel bearing grease is all you need. Simple, inexpensive, and not really all that messy when you need to service/change the bearings (which hopefully will be once every so many years).

    I happen to use synthetic grease, but even regular wheel bearing grease works just fine.

    When towing at speed, stop every so often (pee breaks) and check the temperatures of the tire sidewalls, tread area, and the wheel bearings. They will probably be warm or even very warm right after a highway cruise session, but nothing should be so hot you cannot lay your hand on it. Check both tires, of course.

    The first few times you tow, stop after 20 minutes and check everything, including tire and bearing temperatures. Do it again after an hour or so.

    And check everything else, from tie down straps to hitch tension. Recheck the trailer lights after each stop, just in case. Once you have established the routine, the entire trailer check process takes a minute or two, tops.

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