A Guide To Checking Your RV Tire Tread
Your RV tires are the connecting point between your RV and the road you are traveling. Having safe tires on your RV, whether a motorhome or towable, should be a priority.
RV tires, especially tires made for trailers, are notorious for being cheaply made. Blowouts are more common with RV tires than with automotive tires, and they can cause serious damage. A trailer tire blowout can damage the inner fender, side panels, and gas, plumbing, and electrical lines under the RV.
The most serious situations can cause loss of control, resulting in accidents. Even a blowout with no damage or loss of control can be a bad day. Anyone who has changed a trailer tire on the side of a busy highway will understand.
How To Check The Tread On RV Tires
Checking the tread on RV tires seems like it would be easy, and although it is, there is more to it than many people think.
As far as checking the tread itself, it is the depth of the tread that is being referred to. You are checking the depth of the tread on the tire compared to when it was new and how close it is to the warning indicators. When inspecting the tread, a complete inspection of the tire should be done.
Tread depth is a good indicator of how much life is left in your tires, but there are more factors as well. First, let’s look at checking the tread on your RV tires and then some other important checks you should do.
Checking tread depth
The first thing to look at is the indicator lines. When tires are manufactured, they have small lines running horizontally to the treads that are raised but below the height of the treads. These indicators are part of how to check the tread on RV tires.
If the treads of your tires are even with or below these indicator lines, your tires are done. Many people choose to replace their tires before they wear to this point. At this point, there is very little tread left.
The easiest and most accurate way to check tire tread depth is with a tread gauge. Tire tread gauges are an easy way to measure how much tread is left on your tires. They are small gauges that work similarly to air pressure gauges for your tires.
While an air pressure gauge has an extending measurement rod that is pushed out to take the reading, a depth gauge has a similar extending rod that is extended and pushed in to take a reading. The increments are small, generally in 32nds of an inch, and they are often color-coded for easy reading.
People use coins and other reference points to check the depth as well. Depending on the coin, the measurement will be different; however, generally, a coin is placed upside down in the tread, and you shouldn’t be able to see any of the coin below the top of the president’s head.
Read between the tread lines
While the depth of the treads is important, what’s between the treads can be a sign of potential problems as well. Signs of wear and age can be seen on the sidewalls of tires easily with a quick glance. The area between the treads, however, can go unnoticed.
Dry cracking can occur in this area on tires and is missed by many people. The area between the treads can be hard to see due to the limited light and the area is often dirty. Clean the tires off completely before doing your inspection so nothing is missed.
The tread on tires can also tell you a lot about how your RV is driving. Overinflated will generally wear faster in the center of the tread, whereas underinflated tires will wear on the outside edges.
Tire tread that is cupping on the outside edges or treads wearing only on the inside or outside is a sign of alignment or suspension issues that should be addressed before replacing tires.
Other RV Tire Checks To Make
Checking the tread on RV tires includes doing a full inspection of the tires. Tire tread depth is a sign of mileage, but there are other indicators that are important as well.
Tread depth, tread wear patterns, and the area between the treads should all be part of your tire tread inspection.
The sidewalls should also be checked, as they are, in many cases, the cause of blowouts. Sidewall inspection is quick and easy, and most issues will be obvious. Bulges in the sidewall from broken belts, and cracks from age and exposure to the sun, can mean the end of your tires.
RV trailer tires will have a manufacture date on them, and this should be checked as well. There are differing opinions on how long trailer tires are good. Five years seems to be the most agreed upon time, but your tire manufacturing may have a life span they suggest.
Simply making sure your RV tires have air in them is not enough. Before every trip, and periodically during long trips, you should be inspecting your tires. Checking the tread on RV tires is part of the inspection but not the entire thing.
Manufacture date, sidewall condition, tread depth, and condition are all critical checks to do. Ensuring you know how to check the tread on RV tires will extend the life of your tires and help keep you safe on the road.
Track your RV maintenance
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.