My Spare Tire Nightmare (continued)

I wrote an article about the need to have a spare tire in your RV when you travel. Our motorhome came without a spare tire and wheel even though there was a compartment designed to house it. We are planning a long RV trip this summer and I don’t want to go that distance without a spare.

The first problem was the size and lug pattern of the wheel itself. It is a 22.5 inch wheel with 8 lug holes. Most rims that size are designed for 10 lugs. I was surprised how difficult it was to find this particular wheel. After numerous phone calls and searching the internet I finally found a Ford dealer who said they could order the wheel for me. The cost was over $400.00. This was for a steel wheel. The Alcoa aluminum rims that are on the front and outer duals of the motorhome cost about $1,300.00 apiece. By the time I add the tire to the cost of the steel wheel I would have nearly $700.00 invested in a spare tire and wheel.

This seemed like a significant dollar amount for something you hope you will never need to use, similar to other insurance policies you invest in. Then I had a great idea, I’ll just buy a spare tire without a rim. If we have a flat tire our Roadside Service Plan (RSP) can take the flat tire off the rim and replace it with the new spare tire. This will kill two birds with one stone, it is less expensive and it will be less weight to carry in the RV. Problem number two was the RSP does not cover or pay for mounting the tire on the rim. They only change the flat tire with a serviceable spare tire and rim, or tow you to the closest destination to have the work done. It wasn’t just my RSP; it was every RSP I called.

So, option one (traveling with no spare) was out, and option two (traveling with just a tire and no rim) was out. Now my mission was to find a less expensive used 22.5 inch 8 lug wheel and have a tire mounted on it. It took a lot of searching but I finally located a company in Iowa that had surplus rims and even had the right size tire for the rim. They buy tires, directly from the RV manufacturer, that pick up a screw on the floor during the assembly line process. The tire can’t be used on a brand new RV, but there is no major defect with the tire. The cost for both tire and rim (mounted and balanced) was only $188.00. I hit pay dirt!

When I asked about shipping I was told that if it was shipped to a Fed Ex freight location it would only cost me about $80.00 with the shipper’s discount. I was still in great shape. They said they would ship the tire and rim and I could pay the shipping fee when it arrives. A few days later I got a call from the Fed Ex freight office telling me the shipment would be there the following day. They said to bring a check for $532.00 for shipping!! I almost fell over when I heard the dollar amount. I immediately called the company in Iowa and told them I would have no choice but to refuse the tire and rim. After several phone calls the shipper had the freight charges reversed back to their company, which in turn applied the 60% shipping discount to the $532.00 fee. The owner of the company apologized and asked if I would be willing to pay the other 40% for shipping. It came to $213.00, and when added to the cost of the tire and rim would be a total of $401.00. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was still less than the cost of a new wheel itself and I really needed it.

I agreed to the new terms and picked the tire and rim up the following day. From there I took the tire and rim over to my garage where the motorhome is to put it in the spare tire in the storage compartment. When we slid the tire in the compartment it went about half way and then hit something. The wheel was hitting one of the metal floor braces and would not fit in the compartment. At this point I was about ready to give up on this whole spare tire idea. We took the tire back out and I looked at how the floor of the spare tire compartment was designed. I saw where a little metal fabrication and a large hammer would enable me to lower the compartment floor about one inch which should accommodate the tire and rim. After an hour or so we had the spare tucked away in the compartment, where I am hoping it will stay for a very long time to come.

The final tally, $401.00, a few more gray hairs, a modified storage compartment and slightly higher blood pressure.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

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