A few weeks back, our Shark Bay trip got delayed by a couple of days with our eldest son having to isolate, and we made the decision to still go once he was clear, but to do the entire drive in one day (instead of spreading it over 2 or 3 like we’d initially planned).
I knew 9 hours of driving in the car with two kids 5 and under wouldn’t be much fun, but if we didn’t push the drive out we’d only be up there for a few days and it’d hardly be worth it. Driving long days in the car is not something new to us; we’ve been doing it for years, and the kids are quite used to the odd long day as needed.
We decided to leave Perth at 5AM, and smash a few hours out before pulling up for breakfast. Despite rain and a couple of flooded sections of Tonkin highway the trip was going well, until about 7:15AM, when I felt the car start to shudder.
I looked at the dash to check for any lights, then the right mirror just in time to see the tread depart the camper trailer tyre and head off in a different direction. Lovely.
I pulled up in the worst possible location with us being right in the middle of two opposite bends, at the bottom of a hill and hit the hazard lights on.
I hopped out, and legged it up the road to the tread which was precariously sitting right in the middle of our lane, and watched a few vehicles dodge it as they came around the corner.
After checking it wouldn’t melt my fingers off, I picked it up and carried it back to the camper, to assess the situation.
The sidewall had gone completely, and we were up for our first camper trailer tyre replacement. Sarah helped guide the trailer backwards off the road as much as possible, and we set out replacing the tyre.
Of course, the new 4 tonne jack I purchased didn’t quite have enough stroke to lift the suspension up enough to replace the wheel, so we had to use the van stabilisers and a plastic box to support one side of the suspension and re-jig the jack to get it high enough.
On that note; how many of you have tested that you can actually jack your camper or caravan up properly to change a wheel? Do you rely on your 4WD jack to do the job? Is it rated for the weight of your trailer? Our trailer is much heavier per wheel than the Isuzu Dmax, and I reckon you’d be pushing the limits of the factory jack.
Half an hour later we had a new tyre on, pumped up (as it was at 22 PSI, and had never been used), and the damaged tyre and tread in our canopy/bolted back onto the rear of the camper and we made a move again.
Thankfully the rain held out for the most part, as it had been quite heavy on and off prior and changing a tyre on the side of the road is fun enough without getting drenched too!
Not the best start to the trip, but the remaining part of the drive was uneventful, and really as good as we could have hoped.
We stopped to see a small echidna off the road near Shark Bay, who decided it’d be a good idea to bury under my car wheel, and made it into the Shark Bay Caravan park by 3:30PM. Not a bad result at all, with a blow out included.
Why did the tyre fail?
The tyre was virtually at end of life with wear, with bad scalloping and alignment being the main cause for a badly worn tyre. It was still serviceable, had enough tread and was only 4 years old.
However, given the sidewall blew up, its obvious that the tyre got too hot. This would have either been from running something over and getting a small puncture that made the tyre run flat until it got too hot and went bang, or maybe the valve stem was leaking.
The tyre on the other side developed a badly leaking stem one day very randomly, and had been replaced just a few weeks back. I think a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) would have likely prevented the tyre failure, but they were due for replacement soon anyway, so no major loss.
Either way, I was looking for new tyres before heading off to Shark Bay, and with the Dmax spare fitting the Camper Trailer I didn’t bother replacing it until we got back to Perth. This is one of the benefits of having the same size tyres and stud pattern on your trailer as your 4WD.