Embarking on an RV adventure promises freedom, fun, and the thrill of the open road. However, the key to a smooth journey lies beneath your feet – in the tires that carry you forward. In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of RV tire maintenance, offering practical tips and essential advice to ensure your mobile haven remains safe and efficient on every trip.
From understanding tire pressure to the importance of regular alignments, these RV tire tips will not only extend the life of your tires but also enhance your overall travel experience. So, buckle up as we take you through everything you need to know to keep your RV tires in top-notch condition, ensuring you’re always road-ready for your next adventure.
Tip #1: Consider Upgrading Your RV’s Stock Tires
When you acquire a new RV, it’s wise to evaluate the quality of its stock tires. Often, the tires that come with new RVs may not be the highest quality available. Take a moment to inspect them – look at their tread depth, check for any visible damage, and consider the type of trips you’ll be taking.
If you feel the stock tires might not meet your needs, especially for extensive or heavy-load travel, then upgrading them could be a good investment. Choose new tires with a high ply rating suitable for your RV’s specifications. This rating indicates tire durability and load capacity.
Tip #2: Keep an Eye on RV Tire Expiration Dates
RV tires, like all tires, age over time. This is especially important for RVs, which may not be used as regularly as other vehicles. Even if the tires appear to be in good condition, they can deteriorate internally.
Check the manufacturing date of your tires, found in the DOT code on the sidewall. This code shows the week and year the tire was made. As a rule of thumb, replace RV tires that are more than 6 years old from their manufacturing date, as older tires can pose safety risks even if they have adequate tread.
Tip #3: Inspect Your RV Tires Before Every Trip
It’s essential to conduct a thorough check of your RV before embarking on each journey. A key part of this pre-trip inspection is to examine your RV tires carefully. Take a moment to walk around your RV, paying special attention to the tires. Here’s what to look for:
- Tread Depth: Ensure that the tread on each RV tire is still adequate. Worn-out tread can significantly reduce traction and increase the risk of accidents, especially on wet or uneven surfaces.
- Uneven Wear: Look for signs of uneven wear across the tire surface. This can indicate alignment issues, suspension problems, or improper inflation, all of which can affect the handling and safety of your RV.
- Visible Damage: Check for any signs of cracking, bulging, or bubbling on the RV tire walls. These signs can indicate structural weaknesses in the tire, which could lead to a blowout or other tire failure while on the road.
- Inflation: Use a tire pressure gauge to check that each tire is inflated to the RV manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Always check this when the tires are cold and not while in the process of traveling. When you drive, the tire heats up, changing the pressure.
Note About Tire Pressure
Keep in mind that RV manufacturers set tire pressures based on the Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR). Tires have an optimal inflation based on a table, which often can be found on the tire manufacturers’ website. The gold standard of proper inflation is to weigh the load on each tire and inflate according to the tire manufacturer’s recommendations. However, it isn’t typical to have scales readily available that can do this.
For the typical RVer, the main goal in tire inflation is to ensure that you are not heavier than the GVWR.
- Pack your RV like you’re going on a trip.
- Take your rig to a CAT scale at a truck stop.
- Get your weight and ensure you are under the GVWR sticker on your rig.
- If you are within the tolerance of the GVWR of your RV, the recommended tire pressure on the sticker from your RV manufacturer will be the right pressure.
Tip #4: Carry an Air Compressor
Tire pressure in RVs can decrease gradually, especially when the vehicle is stationary for extended periods or when there are significant temperature fluctuations. It’s common to find that your RV tires need air before you set off on a trip. While you can certainly top up the air at a nearby gas station, having a portable air compressor offers much more convenience and flexibility. With your own compressor, you can easily maintain the correct tire pressure wherever you are.
Determining the right tire pressure for your RV is crucial for safe and efficient driving. Most RVs have a label inside the motorhome or on the trailer that specifies the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. This information is tailored to your specific model and takes into account the vehicle’s weight and design.
Tip #5: Install a TPMS
It’s great to check your RV tire pressure before leaving home, but what if something happens to cause you to lose pressure while driving? This is where a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) comes into play.
Another RV tire tip: A TPMS will let you know what’s going on with your tires as you travel. These systems can communicate if a tire is losing air, and some of them even know if a tire is getting too hot. Monitoring systems like these can save lives and are definitely worth installing if your RV doesn’t come equipped with one from the factory.
Tip #6: Load the RV Properly
It’s incredibly important that you don’t load your RV beyond its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Know your cargo carrying capacity, and don’t go beyond that. Remember to include any water you’re carrying, passengers, and fuel in your cargo weight total. It might be best to head to the CAT scales at a truck stop to get weighed to ensure you’re within the correct range.
Even staying within the weight ratings won’t help if your RV is loaded unevenly. Therefore, you will want to pay careful attention to how much weight you’re putting in each area, making a point of loading things as evenly as possible so no one tire is carrying the majority of the load.
Tip #7: Stay on Top of Alignments
Just like cars, RVs, including trailers and fifth wheels, require regular alignments to ensure proper handling and tire wear. Many RV owners might not realize this, but axle alignments are just as crucial for towable RVs as they are for drivable ones.
Misalignment in an RV can lead to several problems:
- Uneven Tire Wear: When your RV is out of alignment, it causes the tires to wear unevenly and prematurely. This not only shortens the lifespan of the tires but can also pose a safety risk.
- Poor Handling: An RV that is not properly aligned may handle poorly, which can be especially noticeable and problematic when driving at higher speeds or in challenging road conditions.
To ensure the longevity of your RV tires and maintain optimal driving conditions, it’s important to:
- Regularly Check Alignment: Incorporate alignment checks into your regular RV maintenance routine. If you notice uneven tire wear, your RV pulling to one side, or unusual handling characteristics, these could be signs that an alignment is needed.
- Professional Service: Have your RV’s alignment checked and adjusted by a professional, especially if you notice any of the aforementioned signs or after any incident that could affect alignment, such as hitting a curb or pothole.
Tip #8 Protect Your RV Tires with Covers
An often overlooked but essential aspect of RV tire care is the use of tire covers, especially when your RV is not in use. Sun exposure can significantly damage tires over time. The UV rays from the sun can cause the rubber to degrade, leading to dry rot and weakening the tire’s structure.
To protect your tires:
- Use Tire Covers During Storage: When your RV is parked or in storage, especially outdoors, covering your tires can shield them from harmful UV rays and other environmental elements like rain or snow.
- Consider Covers at Campsites: Some RV enthusiasts take this a step further by using tire covers even when parked at campsites. This practice can be particularly beneficial in areas with strong sunlight or extreme weather conditions.
- Regular Inspection: Even with the use of tire covers, it’s important to regularly inspect your tires for any signs of wear or damage.
RV tires are a crucial component of your vehicle’s overall safety and performance. By actively engaging in regular tire maintenance, you can significantly enhance your RV’s reliability and longevity.
Utilizing tools like RV LIFE Maintenance can streamline this process, ensuring that you keep up with your tire care routine. With diligent attention to your RV’s tires, you’re not just maintaining a vehicle; you’re safeguarding your adventures on the road. Remember, well-maintained tires are key to a smooth and safe journey, so take the time to care for them properly.