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Old 07-13-2013, 02:38 AM   #1
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Default And now its the front tires

I went out tonight to check tire pressures prior to starting the trip home on Sunday. I noticed 'flakes' of rubber on the outer tread coming loose -- I was able to pull off a piece about 1/2" long 1/4" wide and 1/8" deep. In other spots there were 'divots' were flakes had obviously fallen off. There were no flakes on the driveway where we've been parked for a month, so it must have been happening while on the road. I didn't have any steering or braking issues on the trip.

These tires are the originals on the RoadTrek, Continental Vanco LT 245/75 R16 mud and snows. The Continental 'adjustment policy' has a long list of what is not covered and requires replacing the defective tires with Continentals. My experience with these policies is not good; they almost always try to pin it on under-inflation. I am quasi-religious (to the point of paranoid) about checking air pressure and keeping the tires to the recommended psi. There is no sign of this damage on the rear tires. We're at about 18k miles. Tires are supposed to last longer than that.

There are at present 191 complaints about Continental tires at this 'consumer affairs' webpage. Similar tire problems are reported with Continental ContiPros at this Mercedes forum:
"both front tires...18" on my AMG wheels....inner and outer tread bands are breaking off small pieces of rubber? Then middle of the tire tread is perfectly fine."

There are some similar complaints on this Sportsmobile forum.

Guess I'll be out tire shopping tomorrow - either Michelin LTX M/S2s or Goodrich Commercial T/A All Seasons. We're living the dream now!

Dan F.
2008 RoadTrek Adventurous (the one with flappy windows and the crappy tires)
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

That's disappointing but good of you to post your experience and the links so that other Sprinter owners get the warning and can check their tires.

Try to take some consolation in that, based on the tires age, you are at or nearing the time to replace them anyway. You'll see recommendations to replace tires with ages ranging from 5 to 10 years old regardless if they appear to be in great shape. Often 6 or 7 years is mentioned, rarely 10 years.

It would be interesting to know your tire manufacture date. The DOT code on the tire indicates the week and year of manufacture of the tire. Example: If the last four numbers are 5208 that means the tire was made in the 52nd week of 2008. A 2008 vehicle could easily have tires from 2007 and maybe even 2006 in some cases.

Even if you don't followup with Continental right now I'd document it all with photos and get the tire shop to describe the tire failure on your receipt for new tires if possible. When that many tires are affected there might be some compensation program offered in the future. I would not count on that though.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

Thanks, consolation is better than nothing.

The DOT shows the tires are indeed from '07, not surprising on an '08 RV. I mis-stated the mileage, which is actually 19500; still a disappointing tire life. I've emailed RoadTrek, but, hey, its the weekend. Similarly for Continental's 800 number. Apparently one is not supposed to have trouble on weekends.

Other Continental tires have a long history of recalls. This is from the NHTSA tire recall website:

"THESE TIRES SHOW CONDITIONS OF TREAD CHUNKING, TREAD BUBBLING, AND BELT LIFT DUE TO HEAT STRESS WHICH CAN CAUSE A SECTION OF THE TREAD BELT PACKAGE TO DETACH FROM THE TIRE CASING AND MINOR VEHICLE BODY DAMAGE COULD RESULT."

That was in 2000, but not for Vanco light truck tires. Others refer to the condition as 'flaking'. I'll be adding my complaint to the list.

Here's a picture of one of the front tires. The 'chunking' is very noticeable; you can pick pieces of tread out with two fingers.

Attached Images
File Type: gif vanco front tire.gif (402.6 KB, 1264 views)
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

If you haven't already replaced the tires, consider the Michelin LTX AT/2 LT245 75R16 E tires, if they still make them. I got some a few years ago at Discount Tire in San Angelo TX, have put mucho miles on them, and they're still in pretty good shape. They have a slightly thicker tread depth/height (an extra 1/16" if I recall correctly) than the MS/2 comps, and the tread pattern is slightly more aggressive than the MS/2 as well. They work better on bad traction surfaces like campsites and snow (may not apply to you).
Just a thought.
Just googled them and Sam's Club appears to have them as a special order item.
http://www.samsclub.com/sams/michelin-l ... 3090443.ip
I got a great price at DT and a Michelin mail in "buy 4 - get $70 off" rebate, that the installers took care of for me. Got a cheque in the mail a few weeks after we got home.
Tire Rack seems to have them too.
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp ... TX+A%2FT+2
And, of course, Walmart.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Michelin-LTX- ... E/16451909
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

It would nice if arrveedogz got some money back, even a credit of some sort. Losing 2 years or so of tire life could be 1/4 or 1/3 of their value. From the photo it looks like the rubber bits just never really bonded together.
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

I had (maybe you do?) Continental Contitrac (?) on my 2002 Escape and they seemed to wear pretty well considering the punishment they got. Just a few months before the transmission failure I replaced them some CTC 50/50 on/off road models that were really crap. Maybe they killed the xmission???

Before I got the Michelins for the van, I had read many reviews of Continental tires on several forums and at several tire sales websites, and the customer reviews were generally referring to poor quality and short life span, iirc. I'm surprised Roadtrek considered using them as original equipment. I thought they only used Bridgestone as their tires of choice.
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Old 08-01-2013, 02:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

Both of the Sprinters we've had/have, 2008 & 2013, displayed front tire caused steering wheel vibration issues. Guess what brand of tire they are?

After spending hundreds on our 2008 balancing, rotating etc, several times, (all six road tires spent time on the front, all the same issue), all we had to do was replace the fronts with a different brand. That took care of it. Frustrating to say the least!
We personally know 8 other RV Sprinter owners that have had the same issue. Same fix, replace with a different brand
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: And now its the front tires

RoadTrek had a fun reply to my inquiry: You get whatever tires come on the Sprinters they get. Effectively, "don't call us, call Sprinter." Continental doesn't have any sympathy if you don't replace the (defective) tires with new (and supposedly wonderful) Continentals (which I did not).

Odd thing is, there weren't any steering or vibration issues; I was very pleased with the first 2100 miles of the trip. And once I noticed the tires falling apart, I still didn't feel anything different. However, I wasn't going to do another 2100 miles dropping little pieces of rubber all over the road.

Anyway, back home safe.

Dan
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