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Tyre Pressures? Beware (Second try)

Mike Chapman

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Most of you on this forum will be knowledgeable enough for this not to happen to you.


I have been introduced to a couple who are having problems related to an accident caused by a tyre explosion on their 2002 Compass Drifter. They are happy for me to post this on the forum but on the understanding that I do not identify them at this point because the matter has not been resolved


By their own admittance they are not technically minded and have no experience of Motor Caravans.


Five months ago they purchased second hand the Compass Drifter from a main dealer, attended a driving course and the dealer spent some considerable time instructing them in the use of the vehicle. Surprisingly no one gave them any information on tyre pressures related to the vehicle weight.


Three weeks ago while driving on the A1M they had a rear nearside tyre explode which caused them to lose control, veer across the motorway and hit a car which was then hit by a following car. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. When the police arrived they inspected the van and found that the Agilis 81 tyres fitted were inflated to 80 psi, 15 psi above the absolute maximum for this tyre type.


The indication is that he is to be prosecuted for driving a vehicle not fit for purpose and he is now also having problems with the insurers who will meet the third party claims but are refusing his claim for extensive damage to his vehicle.


When he purchased the vehicle he was unsure of the tyre pressures to use and was instructed by the dealer to use the pressures shown on the label attached to the drivers door pillar. This label gave 80 psi front and rear and these were the pressures he had used. The original tyres fitted had been Michelin XC Camping but the previous owner had changed these to Agilis 81 and the label had not been replaced or changed.


Neither the dealer or the previous owner are accepting any responsibilty and the previous owner has stated that the dealer should have instructed him properly. It is looking as though he will have to stand the cost of repair and will stand little chance of achieving a not guilty verdict in court if it comes to that.


Checking my own Trigano Tribute, which has Agilis 81, fitted from new, I have found that there are two tyre pressure labels one on the A Pillar giving 80 psi front and rear and the other on the B Pillar giving 58 psi front and 65 psi rear. For the measured running weight of my Tribute the correct pressures are 54 psi Front and 58 psi Rear.


The Questions:-


Have you checked your vehicle to ensure that the labels on the door pillar, if their are any, relate to the tyres fitted?


Do you use the label values to set your tyre pressures?


Have you any experience of a similar situation and what was the outcome?


Your comments would be appreciated.





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This is inded a serious problem as motorhome builders, suppliers and labeling in doors, and handbooks give misleading information. However it should also state on the side of the tyre the max pressure allowable for that tyre. I hope the owner is successful in his claim. It is outrages this mis-information exists and has now proved to be dangerous.

I also wonder what pressure was in the tyres when he took delivery.

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I think your new friends should go hotfoot to Trading Standards.  If the dealer sold the 'van with the wrong tyres relative to the label on the 'van, I suspect they are probably liable, even if this seems a bit tough on them.  I think they should have checked the vehicle and noted the incorrect tyres.

My only reservation, is what does the all important motorhome manual say about tyres and tyre pressures?

I also think the 'van's insurer should be joining with your friends in seeking to recover their costs from the dealer.  I just wonder if they are quite fully aware of all of the relevant facts, especially the tyre pressure label?

Are your friends members of any of the motoring organisations, AA, RAC, Green Flag etc?  Most have/had legal advisory services with lawyers specialising in motoring matters.  These may even be availaable to non members, or may, even now, be available if they join.  Worth a try.

The other aspect of this is that anyone changing tyres on a motorhome clearly needs to be very cautious about the tyres fitted, that they are fully suitable for the vehicle.

It may be that the previous owner fitted alternative tyres because he knew that, at the weight at which he usually used the van, Agilis tyres, running at reduced pressures, were adequate in lieu of XC Campings.  However, it does seem that the wrong grade of Agilis tyres have been fitted, and someone has made a serious error.  Does the previous owner still have the receipt for the tyres, or is this possbly with the vehicle documents, in terms of a service history, I wonder?

I do not think it is acceptable (or legal) to fit tyres that are below the requirement of the vehicle, either in terms of load rating or the specified pressures.  After all, even of owner 1 runs light and fits lower spec tyres, there is nothing to prevent owner 2 running at the maximum permitted weight and assuming the tyres as fitted will be up to the job.  It is asking a bit too much in terms of specialist knowledge for the buyer of a vehicle to check the "small print" on the tyres for their actual capacity.

Hope this helps.

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Sounds most unfair, but thats the legal system for you, in my experience.

Yes the dealer should have suplied vehicle fit for use, but you are also responsible for ensuring it is fit to drive. Sounds like they need a solicitor and lawyer who specilise in motoring, as a last resort try honestjohn for a name.

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If the vehicle was supplied with Michelin camping tyres as original equipment they can be inflated to 80 psi as they will have metal valvels fitted. The Agilis tyres have a maximum pressure lower than this and would normally be fitted with 'rubber' type valve which can blow out of the rim at these pressures; this may be the cause of the accident. It's worth checking what kind of valve is fitted to your rims before inflating to 80 psi even if you're running Michelin camping tyres. As a further warning to us all and especially those of us that run 'heavy loaded' if you are going to fit tyres other than Michelin camping or another camping tyre that allows high axles loads be sure that the tyre AND valve are capable of the load. Too many 'vans are poorly labeled in respect of tyre pressures and often give conflicting advice on different parts of the vehicle and often non in the handbook. I don't remember my 2001 Autotrail having information in it's handbook on tyre pressures.
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My Dethleffs, bought second hand, has metal tyre valves, Goodyear GTs on the rear and Firestones on the front, all recent. The Dethleffs handbook states 80psi (So I suspect that Michelins were O/E). On checking my tyres, max pressure in either type is 70psi, which has proved fine from a load/ride point of view, and the load rating is plenty high enough for my maxi chassied A class.

the first thing I do when I buy ANY new vehicle is give it a really thorough check over and examination. I am not greatly technically minded, but it isnt that hard.

I suspect that from a legal point of view, the dealer in this case may not be to blame-after all, as long as the tyres had the correct load rating they are legal on the vehicle. Tyre pressures are, I am pretty certain, the DRIVERS responsibility. I know this sounds harsh, and in a perfect world the sticker would have been removed or amended, but no one had altered my handbook-I had to find that out for myself.

Maybe dealers in general should check such things and point them out to customers, or at least show the customer how to check for himself?

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Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions.


Since my original posting I have carried out some checking with Michelin and spoken to the owners of the Compass who send their thanks to you all for assisting. They have appointed a solicitor who is now acting for them. The information they gave me has confused the issue especially as the handbook gives the pressures as 66 psi front and rear and the Michelin Agilis fitted have a maximum pressure of 65 psi.


To answer the questions raised:-


The cause of the tyre failure is being investigated. Michelin have stated that it is unlikely that the over inflation on its own would be the cause of the explosion the 80 psi pressure being within the safety margin for this tyre.


The suitability of the Agilis 81's fitted is questionable as XC Camping were the OE. The owner inflated the tyres to 80 psi after contacting the dealer. He cannot remember exactly what the original pressures were other than "somewhere around 60 psi".


The Michelin Agilis tyres were fitted with Metal Valves as are the Agilis 81's on my van fitted from new.


Someone has given the owner advice regarding "Contributory Negligence" by the dealer. Not sure if this is the correct legal expression or what exactly it means but assume that it indicates that both have a responsibility.


In discussion with Michelin I have established that Tyre Pressure Labels are not supplied to the tyre dealers and there is no legal requirement to change the label fitted. However the tyre dealer is expected to take a responsible attitude and inform the owner of the suitability of the tyre fitted and the recommended pressure. The tyre pressure labels are fitted by the manufacturer and/or coachbuilder and are specific to the Vehicle, Tyre Type recommended and the vehicle weight.


As an aside Michelin have informed me that Tyres specifically for motor caravans (eg. Michelin XC Camping) will now have a load range indicator of CP inplace of the existing C (eg. 215/70 R 15 C becomes 215/70 R 15 CP).

P stands for Pressure Warning.





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I use Agilis 81 on my M/H, when I changed from a different make I had the fully loaded van weighed and then emailed Michelin with the details. They recommended 45psi for the front and 65psi for the back. Swift and Fiat both recommend 62 and 65 for fully loaded but I prefer to follow Michelin's advice, the handling and ride is very good at these pressures.


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Glad your friends seem to be making some headway.  It must be a thoroughly miserable time for them.

Not wishing to prolong this greatly, but have they made any headway with their insurers, who do rather seem to have seen a door left adjar and bolted through it?  After all, they paid a premium for insurance, I assume fully comp, and the repairs look to be very costly.  For their part, they appear to have done what was reasonable with regard to responsible ownership.  The insurer, on the other hand, appears outrageously to be cherry picking which parts of his contract he feels like honouring.

If they don't change their tune and meet their obligations I suppose there is the insurance ombudsman, although what I have heard to date doesn't exactly inspire great confidence!  Failing satisfaction, perhaps a little naming and shaming might be in order?

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I Never read the tyre(s) info on the vehicle! I always read the TYRE info only, double checking VERY accurately, also regarding pressures and tyre temperatures, and protection from the sunlight etc.


I also write in felt tip pen the correct pressure on the nearest bit of white panel directly ajacent to the tyre(s) A lesson from military days!


And above all keep to the original spec of tyre for the vehicle. There's no substitute for doing otherwise!


bill h

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I fear the insurance company is well within its rights. Somewhere in the Policy Handbook - which is, in effect, the contract between you and your insurer, it will state that the vehicle must be maintained in a roadworthy condition.


Thus, if you have a sudden tyre deflation or a crash following a skid and it turns out that the tread depth on the tyres is non-existent, they will not pay out.


However, the terms for Third Party cover are not the same as for the fire, theft and accident damage (the 'extra' bits in the comprehensive policy) cover. So they have to honour the Third Party bit.


Thus, they are not 'cherry picking' but observing the law and the contract.


I know it's conventional wisdom to 'knock' insurance companies, but I do have every sympathy with them in these difficult situations. Look at it from their point of view. They are in business to make a profit. Even mutual insurers must make a profit to generate enough cash to grow their business! They are, in effect taking on a bet: we'll insure, say, 3000 motorhomes and our experience tells us we'll have to pay out £x, so the premium we need to charge is £x/3000 + admin costs + some profit + tax, etc. I know this over-simplifies matters a bit, but it illustrates the business they are in.


If we then unilaterally alter the terms of the contract without telling them, why should they stick to their side of the bet?


As this sad example illustrates, we really do need to check very carefully that our vehicles are road worthy and inform the inusrance company of ANY change that affects the contract such as:


- any material change to the vehicle, such as 'chipping' the engine for extra performance


- any change in the driver circumstances, such as licence points or driving convictions - or any criminal conviction that leads to a criminal record


- change of address


- change of medical circumstances of the type repotable to the DVLA


- we are planning to tow an unusual trailer, such as a car on an A frame,


and so on.


I ask: would you take on a bet on horse A and then agree to pay out on horse B because the other punter had changed his mind without telling you?

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I would only say two things, Mel.  Firstly, of course, if the vehicle has not been properly maintained or has knowingly been left defective, they are completely within their rights to reject the claim. 

However, my second point is this.  In this particular case it seemed the owner had taken reasonable steps to ensure his vehicle was indeed roadworthy, and that the tyres were correctly inflated.  His evidence for this was 1) advice from the dealer and 2) the plate on the vehicle door pillar.  In this, as it seems to have turned out, he was sorely misadvised but, according to Michelin, not to a dangerous extent i.e. they say overinflated yes, but not to an extent that took the tyre outside its structural limits, and not sufficient to be a direct cause of the blowout.

Under these circumstances I do not think the insurance company is acting reasonably: acting within its rights on a very narrow interpretation possibly, but not acting reasonably.  The insured is their client, and they have accepted his payment.  Were they attentive to the needs of their client, and sympathetic to his predicament, it would be more reasonable for the company to offer him some assistance, possibly using its offices on his behalf, rather than - as it appears it has done - merely walking away from the damage to the insured's property because there is a reported fault in the vehicle. 

Clearly this will be a matter for judgement, and I would hope that if a responsible, and possibly more senior, person at the insurance company is acquainted with all of the facts, they will adopt a more constructive approach.

So, within their contractual rights may be (but I have to say I'm not 100% convinced of that from what has been reported so far, or that their last word has yet been heard) but certainly not offering much in the way of a service to their client.

After all, supposing one buys a used 'van and suffers an accident under similar circumstances and, on examination, it is proved the tyres have been weakened by being run underinflated, although they were correctly inflated at the time of the accident.  If this underinflation, and the resultant weakening, had occurred during its previous ownership, should the new owner have his claim rejected on the ground of earlier abuse of the tyre, or accepted because they were correctly inflated at the time of the accident? 

I think this poor chap is in a similar position in that the wrong tyres appear to have been fitted by/for the previous owner and the new owner, unaware of this but acting in good faith, had applied pressures that were correct for the vehicle, but excessive for the actual tyres.  I think the insurance company is verging on "sharp" in its interpretation of its contract under these circumstances.  However, as above, I hope they will eventually be persuaded to adopt a more reasonable approach.

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I agree with you in this particular case: clearly every care appears to have been taken to inflate the tyres correctly. And if Michelin will back up their statement in writing then the insurance company will have to pay up (and any police prosecution will fail). And I hope this is the case.


My reply was intended to be more general (hence I did not quote this specific case) and to respond to those who automatically assume all insurance companies are charlatans.


Unfortunately there are now so many fraudulent claims that insurance companies are extremely wary - and who can blame them? In the end, if they are more generous in paying out less than certain claims, it's all of us that foot the bill in higher premiums. And it's usually the same people who then immediately complain of this.


As a totally different example, I have just claimed on my house insurance for loss of a couple of tiles. The loss assessor came round, took some photos and sent details in. I got a notice stating that repairs would be conducted, scaffolding being needed to do so. A week later, a van, three men and some ladders arrive. They were going to do it without scaffolding, because that turns the scaffolding erection cost into pure profit for them. Everyone seems to be at it these days!

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Well, lets just hope the poor couple succeed and persuade the insurer to play fair.  It seems they have had a thoroughly miserable introduction to the joys of motorhoming so far!

Re your tiles, I just wonder how the roofer was to be paid, and whether it was expected that you would police execution on behalf of your insurer?  It is possible, I suppose, that the roofers would merely have raised an invoice for their time, the tiles, and working from ladders.  Whether or not they needed the scaffolding should flow from their risk assessment for your job.  It would be quite reasonable for them to decide scaffolding was not be required for your particular job, but not remotely reasonable for them to charge for it when it was not used.

My mates in the building industry again?  Ooooh, yes, there some very fly boys around!  Shame is, there are also some completely honest and reliable traders as well, whose conduct is always overshadowed by the coyboys.

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