A year after buying our first travel trailer I stumbled on a Facebook group for owners of the same brand as our own. The term, “China Bombs” started popping up in threads. They were referring to the stock 14″ Castle Rock tires manufactured in China.
From what I can tell, the majority of irate Castle Rock customers either had a blowout or were simply distrustful of the tires because they came from China. Most said they were lightweight and inferior, but yet still other owners said they worked great. What’s a new trailer owner to do?
Reviewers who experienced failing Castle Rocks are unable to conclusively say if maintenance/drive style played a part in their failure. It may never be known because they probably didn’t realize they exceeded some of the strict low capacity loads common in these type of tires.
Castle Rock Tire capacity:
- Load range: C, Ply rating: 6 with a maximum load: 1,760 lbs at 50 psi.
- Maximum speed: 75 mph (speed rating L).
- Castle Rock tires need to be checked and filled frequently to 50 psi. For some, this might be after every trip or two depending on use. Under-inflation is a common complaint and can lead to catastrophic failure.
- Castle Rock tires have a lower weight rating than what owners may be aware of so may unwittingly exceed the tire weight limits which can also lead to failure.
- Castle Rocks are designed with a 75 mph speed rating and some drivers might not actually adhere to this limit in practice. But none of us, right?
Any single one of these factors can lead to a catastrophic high-speed blowout.
Investigations into these failures are either never done or not published (likely the former) so it’s difficult to prove the real reason for blowouts, but Castle Rocks have not been recalled and manufacturers continue to use them on all brands of new trailers. With proper maintenance and use, they apparently perform as designed according to the manufactures who use them and users who stand behind them.
That wasn’t good enough for me. I want to load my trailer without worrying about my tires. There are enough other issues out of my control to worry about – I’m talking to you, driver who cut me off entering the freeway. I never drive over 60 mph when I’m towing, but if I have to pass a broken down vehicle or swerve to avoid road kill, I want to do so confidently. It’s worth it to me to get new tires with a higher load rating and user reviews. With that, this year we purchased 14″ Goodyear Endurance Tires. Trailer enthusiast groups suggested we opt for the 15″ tires, but I’m still not sure what the advantage-to-cost analysis is on that.
As the tire tech’s removed our Castle Rocks they shook their heads in disbelief and one said, “These are in terrible condition. Not safe.” They were two-years-old, living in a mild climate (Seattle) and maybe had 2500 miles on them total. Maybe. Six extended weekend trips total. Nothing looked wrong with them from my untrained eye. I think changing them out was a good call, albeit a hit to the wallet.
A note about installing trailer tires in the city
Installation was challenging. Very few tire shops could accommodate the length of the trailer so I picked a store based on the size of their parking lot and quickly learned that’s where most people take their RVs in the area. They scheduled me for a day and time when the delivery truck would not be blocking the parking lot, but alas there was an unscheduled delivery truck in the middle of everything. I squeezed in, my rig blocking five garage bays and it was chaos. One employee wanted me to disconnect, another didn’t, I was messing everyone up. I don’t know what it’s like in other areas of the country but this was an experience I thought worth mentioning. I’m glad I did it, but I wish I had known what to expect.
Before I go, can we please consider calling them something other than, “China Bombs”?
If they perform as intended (and I’m unable to find data that says otherwise) and if the majority of failures are caused by under-inflation, high speed or overloading, is that really something to use a derogatory cultural name for? Based on the concentration of online consumers that freely admit they hate them simply because they come from China and not on the merits of their actual quality, it sounds racially motivated. I’d like to suggest if you really hate them simply call them shitty Castle Rocks instead. Leave the word “China” out of it. Lord knows America has made some bad tires over the years too.
Categories: Trailer Lessons