We upgraded our wheels and tires! Our Airstream came with 15″ aluminum wheels and Goodyear Marathon tires. A lot of folks love Marathon’s and get very good service from them. If we didn’t read so many Airstream blogs and forums, we probably wouldn’t have made the change, but we do read blogs and forums and that made us somewhat uncomfortable with the Marathon’s. So, here’s a picture of our new 16″ aluminum wheels wearing Michelin LTX M/S2 tires!
There are just too many blog entries about Marathon failures and so many blog entries about how Airstreamers are happy with Michelin’s. We used tire pressure monitoring sensors on the Marathon’s that made us feel somewhat better about running on them, but after reading I dont’ know how many articles on tires and tire failures, we had to switch for peace of mind. Now we can run 70+ mph, where legally allowed of course, and feel okay about it. We’ll still use the tire pressure monitors (everyone should use these) in case something happens, you never know. Besides, we’ve always had Michelin’s on our other vehicles and have nothing but good things to say about them, so it was an easy sell, even if it wasn’t exactly a cheap sell.
If our Airstream dealer follows our blog they might not be happy with what I’m going to write but here goes anyway. The price I was quoted for 16″ aluminum wheels from the dealer was $171 plus tax, per wheel. I got the exact same wheel online for $88 and no tax. Since the price was just $88, we purchased a 5th wheel for the spare. The tires were purchased from Costco when they had a $70 off sale for 4 tires. I did have to pay full price for the 5th tire, the spare. I had the tires mounted on the wheels and balanced at Costco and the wheels mounted on the trailer by the dealer. I could have done it but I’m lazy. All-in-all it cost us around $1,500 to make the switch, but the comfort level gained is well worth it in my opinion.
A couple of things did happen that slowed things down, but that’s not unusual I guess and seems to be par for the course for me.
First, I contacted Airstream support and asked about 16″ aluminum wheel specs for our trailer, which was a mistake, mistake, mistake! This is the reply: The rims would be 16×6, 6 lug bolt pattern 5.5”, offset of 0, with a center bore of 4.28”. Sounds good except try to find 16″ aluminum wheels with a 4.28″ center bore. There aren’t any that I could find.
I then asked Airstream support if I could use an aluminum wheel with a 4.25″ center bore and got this reply: No those won’t work. It has to be 4.28” to fit on the axles. We use Alcoa rims, but honestly if the rims match the specs that I gave you they would be fine to use. I wasted more time trying to find Alcoa rims as the website I was given was no good, and found none (turns out they don’t use Alcoa rims).
So I asked Airstream support if I could buy wheels from them and the reply follows: We do not sell parts directly to customers so you would have to order them and get pricing through an authorized dealer. The Airstream part number for the rims only is 411005-100, but I do not have a picture of them. I have miss spoke and I do apologize! We get the trailer tires and rims from a company called Tredit. Their part number for the rims are PD0366655T and I have attached a link to their website for you as well as an authorized dealer list. Of course the Tredit website led nowhere since they don’t sell to individuals and no authorized dealers were near us.
After some time consuming research, I found out the part number I was given by Airstream support, PD0366655T, is actually a Sendel wheel with a part number of T03-66655T. That wheel has a 4.25″ center bore, fits on the trailer perfectly and can be found all over the Internet. I wasted a lot of time and got a little peeved with Airstream support.
But before purchasing the wheels, I asked Airstream support about lug nuts and if the spare wheel, which I’ve never looked at, was aluminum or steel (that could make a difference with lug nuts). This is the reply: Being that we do not use steel rims I would not be able to say for certain, but they should work. Of course when I got under the trailer and looked, it was a steel wheel, not aluminum.
I’ve also gotten inaccurate information from Airstream support with regard to propane hoses and regulators, but that’s another story for another time. I feel the guys who build them should be able to answer questions accurately, with no excuses. Airstream support does answer quickly and are very nice folks, but for me anyway, they have not answered one of my questions correctly. Disclaimer: your results may vary.
Second, after purchasing the 5 wheels online, one wheel was lost in transit by UPS so it took some time for them to find it and get it to us. They were very nice and did eventually find it, but it did delay things a few more days.
But as of today, all is good. The wheels are on and ready to roll. I just need to remember to re-torque them at 25 miles, 50 miles and 100 miles on our next trip, which will be to the desert to see wild flowers blooming, very soon. Oh yes, our Airstream Service Department Manager told me there is no need to re-torque when I asked him. Right after that, I saw a multi-axle trailer sitting in the service bay missing a wheel and noticed it had suffered some wheel well and body damage. I asked the Parts Manager what happed to it and he said the wheels weren’t re-torqued properly after being changed and one came off damaging the trailer and another vehicle after rolling down the road. I’ll re-torque thank you Mr. Service Department Manager.
I’ll be listing our 15″ aluminum wheels and tires (4) plus the steel wheel spare and tire for sale on ebay and Airforums for a very good price. They will most likey sell fast as Airstreamers with 14″ wheels like to go with 15″ wheels as an upgrade.
I know I did some venting, buy hey, as Shrek said: “better out than in I always say!”
See you down the road ….