The most common problem among all RVers is associated with tires.
Tires carry the weight of the RV by air pressure. This makes the RV tires the most vulnerable component relative to “overweight/overloaded” issues. Unfortunately, tires are the most neglected maintenance item on the RV. We expect the tires to be ready to go whenever the engine is started.
There are five primary issues that adversely affect RV tires.
Let’s look at each one of these issues.
Most Demanding Application
Loads are carried by the air pressure in the tires. Each tire is designed to carry a maximum load, so it should not be exceeded. Over loading and under inflation is the same to a tire. Under inflated tires have reduced load carrying capacity.
RVers will load up all their stuff and will exceed the carrying capacity of the tire which results in a “rapid air loss”, a blow out. Only when a tire is inflated to the correct air pressure for the load it is carrying will you get maximum performance and life.
Due to the life of an RVer, we will travel then stop and see the sites, travel and stop, travel and stop. Tires do not like to sit, they want to roll and take us places. We will age out our tires before we wear them out.
Poor Maintenance Practices
Everyone tends to forget the tires, even on cars and trucks. We expect them to be ready to roll. Unfortunately, tires do require maintenance and should have a visual inspection along with a check of the air pressure before you start rolling.
Soap and water is best to clean the tires and to keep them looking good. Consider using Aerospace 303 on the tires. This is a UV protectant and is safe to use on the tire. Do not use petroleum, silicone or alcohol products on the tires.
If you are going to park the RV on asphalt or concrete for an extended amount of time, use a protective pad under the tire.
Unfortunately as RVers we fall into this class of drivers. We hit pot holes, hit the curbs, and speed. All of these add up to damaging the tires.
Tire damage is not self-healing therefore it is cumulative. The tires will deteriorate or get damaged until they can no longer withstand the load demanded of them.
If you hit a pot hole today, it could damage the cords in the tire and you will not know it. There is a lack of “cause and effect” which can create a false sense of security.
Tire failure will occur at the most inopportune time.
Avoid Tire Problems With These Tips
Weigh Your RV
In order to determine the correct air pressure for your tires, the RV needs to have the individual wheels weighed to determine what the weight each tire is carrying.
After knowing the weight, you can go to the manufacturer’s inflation charts to adjust the air pressure in the tires.
Fifty seven percent (57%) of all RV’s traveling down the road have a weight issue. For the motor home, 37% of the time it is the tires. For the 5th wheel RV, it is 29% a tire issue. For the bumper pull RV, it is 14% a tire issue. And for the towing vehicle (truck or car), 15% of the time it is a tire issue.
The remaining weight problems are related to the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR).
Tires will not last forever
They are made primarily of rubber and rubber ages and deteriorates over time. This is why everyone should be familiar with the DOT age codes for all your tires. This code will be found on one side of the tire and will be the last four digits after the DOT code.
You will see something like “DOT B6BJ BVJ 3414”. The 3414 tells you the week of the year (34th week) and the year (2014) when the tires were made.
RV Tires will age out before we wear them out and they should be replaced 5 to 7 years after the DOT date code. For the example of 3414, these tires will need to be replaced by 2020.
When buying tires, make sure to get the freshest tires you can. Insist on checking the DOT code before the tires are mounted and buy tires within six months of manufacturing.
Check Your Air Pressure
Before starting out each day on your trip, you need to check your air pressure in the tires. Remember that you will fill the tires to the recommended cold tire inflation pressure. It should be checked before you drive more than a few miles or the sun heats up the tire.
Escapees has tons of educational information to help you get the most out of your RVing experiences.
Check them out here:
Consider a Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Instead of checking tires every day before traveling, consider purchasing a tire pressure monitoring system. It will notify you of a tire with low air pressure or a tire failure.
These can provide great peace of mind on the road and save you from crawling around on the ground checking tire pressures.
For a more in-depth look into tires, RV weight and maintenance, consider taking the
RVers On-line University course powered by Escapees RV Club.
There are different topics that cover all aspects of the RVing lifestyle.
Jim is the Education Director for Escapees RV Club. He is a retired law enforcement officer with over 42 years of service and specialized in accident reconstruction. This dealt with weight and tires issues of vehicles involved in collisions. Jim and his wife Lisa are fulltime RVers and work out of their RV.