We (my wife and I) have a 2012 Thor ACE 29.2. We got it used with 25,000 miles on the original Continental HSR 225/70R19.5 tires. The tires were noisy and had some cupping. There was also a rhythmic squeak in the coach that seemed to increase and decrease with changes in speed, so we thought it probably had something to do with the tires.
A couple of months ago, we had the alignment checked, which was in spec, as it turned out. At that time, the garage recommended new tires. But other events intervened so we had to wait till now.
For the new tires, we chose Michelin because they came on our Chrysler Town & Country minivan. We like the ride and apparent quality. Also, Michelin RV tires come highly recommended in several blog posts. We chose the XZE model because that's what the Michelin website recommended for our tire size. In fact, it was the only tire model they recommended which made the choice quite easy.
I called Michelin to find a local dealer that could not only sell, but balance and install 2 new front (steer) tires. They gave me the name of a company in Norfolk, VA, near where we live. I called them and inquired about the price. It was over $500 per tire plus installation. Then the salesman asked if we were FMCA, because the price would be better. I said "no, how much would they be if we were FMCA?" He said about $360, so I told him I'd get back to him after I checked out FMCA.
FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) has a discount tire program (https://site.fmca.com/fmca-tire-program
). It turned out that joining, including initial fees, was about $60 for the first year ($50 renewal/yr after that). The savings was about $150 per tire, or about $300 for the front pair. I didn't have to think too hard about joining. Turns out there are lots of other benefits as well, so we're doubly happy. For example, we can use the same type of discount for tires for our Toad.
After joining and getting our membership card, I called the Michelin dealer back and arranged to buy the new tires. But first, I had to make some other arrangements. I had to call Michelin and give them my name, FMCA membership number, address and a valid credit card. They recorded that in their system and said it would take effect in about 5 minutes. It would be good for 30 days. I wasn't going to buy them for several days, so I wasn't worried.
I drove our MH to the dealership early on Friday morning and the work took a few hours, mostly because I had to wait in line. The company normally works with local trucking firms, so my RV was "small potatoes" compared to a lot of the rigs there.
On the way there, I used my Android phone to record the sound levels in the cab, which averaged about 67-68db on the interstate at 55mph.
At the garage, I spoke to the technician who was going to install the new tires and discussed the merits of the two types of balancing they had, "computer spin" and "liquid". He felt that "liquid" was superior because the "computer spin", while excellent at the point of installation, as we drove down the road and as the tires wore or got hot, the balance points would change and the tire would no longer be in perfect balance. The "liquid" system, by contrast, would mold itself to the inside of the tire and re-arrange itself as conditions changed. This seemed like the better choice, so I took it.
When paying for the tires, the office staff couldn't find our name in the Michelin system. It turned out the person I had given the information to spelled my name wrong. The staff had to call Michelin on the phone and get the correct information, then type in my "wrong" name in order to continue.
I received a printout showing the sale and installation of the tires, but no receipt. It seems Michelin will charge my credit card and send the dealership the payment. Nobody seemed particularly excited that they didn't have payment, and were perfectly happy to let me leave, so I assume this sort of thing goes on regularly.
The cost was about $359 per tire plus $100 for mounting, balancing and old tire disposal, plus sales tax, or just under the original $500 quote. It was like getting mounting and balancing free.
Before leaving, I asked about the pressure they set the tires at and was told it was 100 psi which is what they normally set it at. I said that the Thor sticker next to the driver suggests 85 psi. They said that was likely because Thor wants to have a softer ride, but they pointed out that if they lowered the pressure to 85 psi, we would not be able to carry as much stuff. I pointed out that in our case, that isn't an issue since we travel for business and don't have anything loaded other than food, some computers and clothing. But it is important to us to have a soft ride so that my wife can use the computer to do office work, buckled into the kitchen table, while we're traveling at 65mph down an interstate. Given our use, they agreed and lowered the pressure to the 85 psi Thor recommends. After the change, the side walls of the tires bulged out noticeably, so I thought I might try 90 psi later after seeing what I thought of 85 psi.
The technician who installed the tires said that he mostly installs Continental, perhaps because they are less expensive, but he said that anyone who "springs for the higher cost" is always delighted and he's never had a single complaint.
I have to say in all honesty, I concur.
On the way home, the handling was immediately, noticeably better. The "bounce" over pot holes was less jarring, and the ride was just "smoother".
I also recorded the sound levels which averaged 66-67db, a 1 or 2 db reduction, and as any of you who have an RV on the Ford F53 chassis know, any reduction in sound levels is most welcomed. The reason for the decibel range is that my "app" bounces around as it constantly re-samples the ambient sounds.
Overall, the coach tracked very well (we also have Roadmaster steering stabilizer), and (so far) we couldn't be happier.
I asked the technician to check out the rear tires (original Continental HSR), and while they're worn with only about 1/2 their useful tread left, he didn't recommend replacing them just yet. When the time comes, probably this year, I will most definitely "spring" for the cost of 4 new Michelin XZE tires for the rear.