Tires, even with good tread and good sidewalls have a lifespan. Different brand tires have different lifespans. Our Roadtrek came from Roadtrek with Bridgestone tires. Checking on the Bridgestone website, Bridgestone tires have a lifespan of 10 years - as long as the tires are inspected each year to be certain that they are still good. Each year our Roadtrek is inspected for the New York State required annual inspection by the local mechanic that we bring it to (along with our car) who does has done all of the work on our Roadtrek and our car. I ask him to inspect the tires when he does the inspection. Our Roadtrek is inspected in May each year which coincides with the month that the Roadtrek was registered and received its New York State license plates. While not planned, this gives the Roadtrek a thorough inspection before the start of traveling season.
I knew this year we would need new tires for the Roadtrek because they were 10 years old. They were in very good condition - and they wore well. I have liked Bridgestone tires on my cars and I wanted to replace the Roadtrek tires with Bridgestones. We have not had good experience with Michelin tires on our cars, but I know many do like them. I went on line and checked on several models of Bridgestones that would fit the Roadtrek.
The Roadtrek has tires that are LT245/75R16E. LT stands for "Light Truck". R is the speed rating of the tires. The E is the most important in the size - this is the weight load rating of the tire and the Roadtrek must have an "E". There are other 245/75/16 tires that are not E. I discovered looking at tires that to find the tires for the Roadtrek, if you put in Chevy Express 3500 the correct tires do not come up. I also found that if you put in both Chevy Express 3500 and the size you get "This size does not fit your vehicle." I put only the LT245/75R16E and tires came up for the Roadtrek. I saw "All Terrain" and "All Season" tires. I took down the tire names and read reviews and then went to the Roadtrek Group on Facebook to find out if anyone has these tires on their Roadtreks. Some did - and I heard good things about the ones I was considering. One of the tires I was uncertain about as while it should be fine many descriptions of this tire online was that it was an All Terrain tire that was best for Off Roading -and we drive on the highway and never go Off Roading - into the muck and the mire, the snow, the sand, etc. The closest we come is the gravel in the campground RV site or the driving on grass. It was the tire I most leaned to - and one Roadtrek owner said he liked it. More had the other tire I was considering. I was prepared to go shopping.
I never expected, however, that getting tires for the Roadtrek locally was going to be so difficult.
The difficulty was not because the tires are not available - they are very available. The problem is finding a tire shop that will install them on a van that is 9 feet tall and weighs over 8,000 pounds. Their shops are not tall enough or their lifts are not strong enough. Now, some reading this will say but X tire shop or Z tire shop did mine and that company is all over the country. It seems though that some of the very popular chain tire shops are not in New York - at least not anywhere near here. The Discount Tires chain is very popular but it turns out the closest one to us is in Pittsburgh is 420 miles one way. That is a little far to go to buy tires - and to drive with tires that are ready to be changed. There is one local tire chain that dominates tires here - and they are in every town, but the shops are small, the parking lots are small - and the Roadtrek would not fit through the doors into the bays. Independents are even smaller shops with even smaller property to bring the Roadtrek onto. I knew from the forums and Roadtrek groups that Costco is a popular place to go to have tires put on the Roadtrek and we have Costco here. I went to one of the Roadtrek groups and asked about going to Costco for tires for the Roadtrek. The response was maybe - as it seems some Costco Tire Centers will install on a Roadtrek and some will not. Oh boy? What would the one here do?
We are just starting to venture out of the house on a semi-regular basis following our Covid-19 vaccines and do so with caution. As it was, we had to go to the Costco for a few items and while we were there we stopped into the Tire Center and asked the man at the counter. His answer was you have to ask our manager. The manager who was standing nearby talking to a customer came over when he was done and we asked him. I described the Roadtrek - because no one around here knows what you are talking about is you say Roadtrek - as a van RV built into a Chevy Express 3500 van. I told him it is 9 feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds (which is approximate). He stood there not saying anything and then said that they no longer put tires on RVs - they did up to two or three years ago but they don't any longer. I, again, tried to give him a description of how the Roadtrek is not the image of the large Class A that comes to mind when "RV" is said. He considered it for a minute or so and said, "I have to see it to decide!". hat was better than a flat out "No!". I asked when he would be in, he gave me when he would be there over the next several days and we left.
The next day I decided we need to find out from him as soon as possible and called the day after that which was one of the days he would be at the Tire Center. It turned out that he was not the overall manager but the Assistant Manager of the Tire Center. (Perhaps all department heads at Costco are "Assistant Managers" but whatever his title he was the man in charge at the moment. We went to Costco with me hoping that he would say yes looking at the Roadtrek and have the tires - and we would be coming home with them on the van.
When we got there the Assistant Manager who we had spoken to came out and looked all around the Roadtrek. He looked under it. He looked at all sides. He looked at the tires. He stepped back and took photos of it. While he was looking, we were standing by watching him look. He asked some questions and was writing on a pad the entire time. Finally, he said. "I will have to let you know - tomorrow!" Oh boy! Before he walked away I pulled out the paper I printed out from the Costco website that had the tire I was thinking about on it. This was the one that more Roadtrek owners said they had on the group I asked. He looked at it and said, "These tires would be ripped up in no time on this. You need a tire that will last!" My response was to suggest the other tire that I was considering. He said, "That one would be much better. It will last!"
The next day we got a call from him. YES! He said they will do the install. He would have to put the Roadtrek up using a floor jack to lift the van at each tire to change each one. This was what I had told him both times we had spoken in person. Putting the Roadtrek up on a lift - one that uses the chassis and not under the tires to lift it - needs to be positioned so that none of the tanks, plumbing, etc. is not crushed. This is something most shops do not want to chance. And I would not want them to chance. He told us on the phone that we needed to come in and order the tires and make an appointment to have them installed. We went there the next day in the afternoon.
This time I bought a print out of the tire he said would be good. We went in and started talking about the install and I handed him the paper. He took it and went into his computer to get more details about the tire. I asked him how smoothly it would drive on the road. He said that since they are All Terrain tires they were more intended for off road - and while they are OK on a highway they would not be as smooth ride on a highway. I told him we primarily drive on highways. I had looked at another tire - the same name as this tire we were talking about but was described as an All Season tire. It had many of the hard wearing characteristics of the tire we were talking about - there was a minor difference in specs. He looked that tire up and said it would be just as good for the Roadtrek and would drive much smoother on highways than the tire that was the All Terrain version of this tire. He ordered four Bridgestone - DURAVIS R500 HD in LT245/75R16E. They were coming from a Bridgestone distribution facility in Allentown, PA and would arrive in four days - a Friday - the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. He told us that he personally would do the install. They would call us when they came in.
That Friday morning we got a call. The tires were there - when did we want to come in to have them installed. I took a shot and said - "We can be there this afternoon if you can take us!" Sure - either 3 or 4 pm. I picked 3:00 pm.
I have written about how long it can take us to back the Roadtrek out of our driveway into the four lane road our house is on. It can take up to a half hour to get a clear break in traffic to back up across the the lanes on our side of the street. It took only fifteen minutes that afternoon - Meryl in the street with a walkie talkie telling me - "NOW!". The weather report was for rain starting at 7:00 pm - no problem at all! We headed over to Costco which is a half hour drive all on streets - the Roadtrek cannot go on any of the parkways that would get us there quicker.
It was 2:45 when we walked into the tire center and handed the Assistant Manager the keys. We would go into Costco and walk around while the tires were installed. I asked about how long and he told us about two to two and a half hours - because he had to use the floor jack. OK.
I set a timer on my phone to go off in two hours. We walked around the store in those two hours - some of it through parts of the store we had walked earlier again. We went outside to see what was happening. I did not want to go into the Tire Center - we could see where we parked the Roadtrek and into the garage from a distance. As we got outside it was raining. So much for 7 pm! The Roadtrek was no longer in the parking lot. It was in a bay in the garage being worked on. We went back into the store to walk around - some more! I set my phone alarm to go off in another hour.
Before Covid, it would not be hard to waste time in Costco. There would be food samples being given out. The snack bar/lunch counter would have tables set up all around to bring a hot dog, soda, pizza, etc. to a table to eat - but with Covid-19, the tables were all removed and the snack/lunch bar became take out only. While it is open like this, there is no place to sit. In fact there is no place to sit in the store. We kept walking.
The alarm went off - now three hours after we arrived. We were very tired of walking. We went back outside and it was raining harder. Now there was a white Sprinter van sitting next to the Roadtrek in the next bay - just as tall - but it did not look like an RV conversion. The Roadtrek was not finished yet. We went into the Tire Center and there was a young man at the counter. We asked about the Roadtrek - he said that it takes a long time. We asked if they had our cell number to call us when it was ready. He looked up our service ticket on the computer and read us our home number. I said if he calls us on that to tell us it is ready, we will not be there because we are in the store! He took down the cell number.
We returned to the store wondering when store security would come over to question us for wandering around the store for more than three hours. This time I did not set the timer - I set the stopwatch on the phone going to see when we got the call to come and get the Roadtrek. We continued walking through the store. At a half hour I could not walk around the store any longer. We had not gotten a call and we left the store and walked into the tire center. We saw that the rain had gotten worse. As we went through the door to the tire center we saw the young man standing at the counter holding up the keys to give us. I just smiled. I did not ask why he had not called us. I just wanted to see the Roadtrek with its new tires. and go home. I asked where it was parked. He told us. We went out into the rain and ran through the rain to the Roadtrek - Meryl got in and I walked quickly around to see the tires. They were hard to see in the rain. It was 7:00 pm as we were driving home.
I do not know why it took this long. I can tell you just about where everything you might be looking for is located at this Costco. It will be awhile before I want to go to shop in a Costco.
They did us a favor putting the tires on the Roadtrek when they don't usually do this. We are very happy that we were able to get tires put on and they are good tires. They rode very well driving home in the heavy pouring rain and it was a smooth ride.