Ensuring the correct tire pressure in your RV is more than just a maintenance routine; it’s a crucial safety measure that can significantly impact your road trip experience. Tire blowouts, especially at high speeds, can lead to severe damage to your RV and pose a risk of losing control of your vehicle. This danger is amplified when towing a trailer, as a blowout can cause the trailer to sway uncontrollably. Similarly, a motorized RV, whether it’s class A, B, or C, faces equal risks under these circumstances.
The Importance of Proper Air Pressure
The first line of defense against catastrophic tire failure is maintaining the correct air pressure. It’s a common misconception that tires should be inflated to the maximum pressure indicated on the sidewall. Instead, the right pressure depends on the individual load each tire carries. This requires weighing each tire separately to determine the appropriate pressure.
Before each RV season, and certainly before any long trip, check the tire pressure with a reliable gauge. This ensures all tires are equally inflated according to the tire manufacturer’s specifications. Both under-inflation and over-inflation have their pitfalls. The former leads to uneven wear, while the latter increases the risk of tire failure.
Advancements in Tire Technology
Modern tubeless tires are more reliable than those of the past, but they’re not immune to issues. The general recommendation is to replace tires every seven years or sooner if there are signs of wear, such as weather checking or sidewall cracking. Most tire problems arise from improper storage. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can accelerate damage, making costly replacements inevitable.
My Personal Experience with Rear Flats
I once found an inside dual tire on my motorhome completely flat. Fortunately, inflating it to full pressure resealed the bead, avoiding further complications. However, another tire was 30 pounds under the required pressure. These were 22.5-inch tires, normally inflated to 95 PSI. The 30-pound deficit was not visually apparent, but it posed a significant risk.
A low tire generates excessive heat due to sidewall flexing. In hot conditions, this can lead to a blowout. A slightly under-inflated tire can start leaking around the bead, leading to a complete loss of load-bearing capacity and, eventually, tire disintegration.
The Risks Extend Beyond Your RV
It’s not just about the damage to your RV. When tires fly apart, they can cause injury or damage to others, potentially making you liable. Regularly checking tire pressure, including the inner duals, should be an integral part of your annual maintenance checklist. Rechecking before long trips and periodically throughout the season is also wise.
Valve Extenders and Air Compressors: Essential Tools for RVers
For dual tires, valve stem extenders simplify the maintenance process. A quality tire gauge that can read pressures higher than your RV’s requirement is essential. Additionally, ensure all tires have caps on their valve stems to prevent leaks and protect against dirt and the elements.
Carrying a 12 Volt DC air compressor is a practical solution for on-the-go tire maintenance. This tool once saved me from a costly repair when I discovered a flat tire in a Walmart parking lot. The ability to address tire issues immediately can prevent expensive service calls or the need for tire replacement.
Always Inspect Before Departure
A thorough visual inspection of your tires before each trip is critical. On one occasion, noticing an unusual squat on one side led me to discover a tire issue before hitting the road. It’s far better to be proactive about tire safety than to assume everything is fine.
Dealing with a Blowout
In the event of a blowout:
- Stay Calm: Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel.
- Do Not Brake Immediately: Sudden braking can lead to loss of control. Instead, gradually slow down.
- Steer Straight: Keep your RV on a straight course to stabilize.
- Find a Safe Place to Stop: Once at a safe speed, find a secure location to assess the damage.
Enhance Your RV Maintenance with RV LIFE Maintenance
Remember, regular tire maintenance is not just a precaution; it’s a necessary practice for safe RV travel. By understanding and applying these principles, you can protect yourself, your RV, and those around you on the road.
To ensure your RV’s optimal performance and upkeep, consider using RV LIFE Maintenance. This cloud-based service, accessible on your tablet, computer, or smartphone, tracks and reminds you of upcoming maintenance tasks. It provides detailed emails about pending tasks, historical data, costs, and documentation. The service also generates reports for quick access to documents and key dates. Travel with peace of mind, knowing your RV is maintained to the best standards.