We’ve put together a valuable RV tire safety and maintenance tips and RV tire accessories guide to help minimize or even eliminate potential of tire blowouts and vehicle accidents. Because, not taking care of the tires on your motorhome, fifth wheel or trailer could result in expensive repairs or accidents.
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Just like a person wearing the proper shoes, the most important feature on your RV are its’ tires. They support and carry the load and weight for as long as you’re moving.
Those black round rubber things are what carries your RV AND your family and belongings. So, doesn’t it make sense to take every precaution and proper care to ensure your motorhome or travel trailer get to your destination all in one piece?
And, just because you’ve not drive or pull your RV more than 5000 miles doesn’t mean those tires will be good for another 5000.
RV Tire Safety and Maintenance
Shopping for Tires
Tire safety begins the day you shop for your tires for your motorhome or towable RV. Shopping for tires is different for every RV owner. We encourage you to talk with the owners of like sized RVs to see what they are using for tires.
But more importantly, do your research on different tire manufacturers. Look into what your RV manufacturer recommends based on your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer’s weight.
Tires can be purchased from multiple places including local tire chain stores or online. We encourage you to look beyond the OEM tires as they often are not the best option. Oftentimes, RV manufacturers install cheaper tires just to get it off the showroom floor.
Also worth noting, your motorhome or towable’s spare tire is the most forgotten because it just sits there under the coach or on the back of a towable. They will literally dry rot before you even get to use them because they are subject to the weather yet not get used as intended.
So, when it’s time to shop for your RV tires, we highly recommend getting a new spare as well. Even though your spare tire may not have touched a mile of pavement, it still has been subject to aging, the weather elements, road grime and possible damage.
The last thing you want is your motorhome’s or camper’s spare tire to rip apart or blow because of any of the above discrepancies.
But, before forking over your hard-earned dollars for new RV tires, you need to pay strict attention to the birthdate of the tires your installer will be putting on your motorhome, fifth wheel or other camper. Ask to see the tires yourself. Verify that those tires didn’t just sit around the shop for months to even years.
The date of manufacture will be the last four digits of the DOT code. The first two digits are the week of manufacture. And the last two digits are the year.
For example, if the last four digits of the DOT code are 0203, that means that the tire was manufactured during the second week of the year 2003.
One important point of RV tire safety is to always regularly check your RV tires (and your toad or tow vehicle tires!) for wear patterns such as cupping or uneven belt wear. The penny test method will help define tread groove depth. Stick a penny head-first into each groove. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to purchase new tires.
Also, tire wear patterns could be tell-tale signs of suspension, alignment or steering system discrepancies. You should immediately visit an RV tire specialty dealer at the very first sign of vibration or shimmy.
A simple tire rebalance may be the answer. However, if the tire rebalance doesn’t fix the vibration, your tire dealer should conduct further diagnostics to find what’s causing the shimmy.
Make certain YOU test drive before leaving the tire dealership to avoid further problems and hardship.
Front End Alignment for Motorhomes
Front end alignments are critical for motorized Class A and Class C motorhomes, vans and truck campers. Without the correct front end alignment, your motorhome tires will wear prematurely thus costing you time and money.
You should always check your tires for signs of unusual tire wear before every trip. Again, look for flat spots, cupping or signs of excessive tire wear. You should schedule a front end alignment at least annually.
Front end alignments for motorhomes are best left to the professionals. Your large(r) Class A or Class C motorhome may need to have a facility accustomed to handling big rigs do your alignment. These types of shops will have the necessary equipment and professional tire specialists and technicians to give your motorized RV a quality alignment.
Wheel and Axel Alignment for Towable RVs – Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers
The care and attention given to motorhomes should be the same for towable RVs. The best place to have a proper trailer wheel and axel alignment done on your fifth wheel or travel trailer at a trailer service center and done by a certified technician. You should schedule your wheel and axel alignment annually.
Tire Rotation & Rebalance
RV Tire rotation and rebalancing goes hand in hand with proper alignment, regardless if it’s a motorhome or towable RV. To get the maximum life out of your tires they should be rotated on a regular basis.
It’s a good idea to get your RV tires rebalanced as even a simple pothole could put them out of balance. Check your RV’s manufacturer for the rotation interval.
That said, for some RVs, it is not practical to rotate the tires. Dually wheels are a good example. So, most RV owners just monitor the wear of the tires and replace them as needed.
Another RV tire safety and maintenance tip is to be aware that tires that are out of balance can cause a vibration. This can detrimentally lead to premature and excessive tire wear and suspension wear and tear.
In addition, vibration and tire shimmy it can cause driver fatigue which could potentially lead to an accident. Tires should always be balanced when they are mounted on wheels for the first time. Also, when they are remounted after being repaired.
Proper Tire Inflation
You should check your tire pressure every day that you travel and throughout your trip. The tire pressure will change through out your travel day. They can change with the ambient air temperature.
Under-inflated tires will increase fuel consumption. According to AAA (American Automobile Agency), operating a vehicle with under-inflated tires can result in a 25% reduction in fuel economy. Over- inflated tires will have less grip and possibly cause unexpected blowouts.
An accurate tire gauge is all you need to monitor your tires for proper inflation. Checking the inner wheels of a dually can be quite challenging unless you have steel valve stems installed.
We can’t stress enough that every RV owner should carry a portable air compressor. It can be 12-volt or 120 volt powered depending on your preference. Make sure the compressor is large enough to handle the maximum tire pressure of your RV. Generally speaking, the larger the RV tire, the larger volume air compressor needed.
Here’s some quality air compressors to carry with you in your RV or camper:
Viair 450P-RVS (Class A Motorhome)
Viair 400P RVS (Class C & Larger Towables)
Viair 300P-RVS (Towables and Smaller RVs)
Viair 89P-RVS (Class B RVs)
VIAIR Winterization Kit (Compatible with 400 and 450 RVS models ONLY)
You can purchase a compressor from several sources, but this is one of those you get what you pay for investments. Small, cheap compressors are usually single stage. They are not adequate to inflate a large RV tire and will burn out quickly.
We prefer the 12 volt RV air compressors listed above. As you notice, they come in multiple sizes applicable to RV size and are extremely well made.
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Monitoring your RV’s (and tow vehicle) tire pressure is one of the most important of our RV tire safety and maintenance tips. As stated above, proper tire inflation is extremely crucial to your safety and the longevity of your tires.
You can check the tire pressure by hand with a tire pressure gauge. Make sure you buy a quality tire pressure gauge that will be more accurate than a cheap one purchased from a dollar store.
The other way to monitor and check your RV’s tire pressure is by using a good quality tire pressure monitoring system also known as a TPMS.
Your RV TPMS will monitor the pressure and temperature of each of your RV as well as your toad or tow vehicle’s tires. It reports that data back to the monitor in real time.
An RV TPMS will instantly notify you of a slow leak or an increase in your tire temperatures allowing you to take corrective action before disaster strikes in the form of a blowout. We prefer the TST-507 Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
The TST-507 TPMS has a color monitoring screen, monitors multiple tires at once, and was easy to program. No RVer should be without one.
Tire Pressure and Temperature Monitoring Systems can monitor up to 18 tires using multiple tire cap sensors and a single receiver unit. In the case of our small Class C motorhome and our Jeep, we have 10 sensors.
Read more about the TST 507 RV C Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Speaking of valve stems, stainless steel valve stems are very important for safe travel in your RV. They are much more durable than typical rubber valve stems. Stainless steel valve stems are also the best option for installing the sensors of a tire pressure monitoring system.
So, getting those installed on your motorhome is a worthwhile investment; especially for those with dual tires.
On our small Class C Winnebago View motorhome, we invested in the Borg Warner valve stems. They are well constructed and should last for years. We had them installed by a professional tire shop in Phoenix, Arizona.
Though they come with a moderate price tag, the install is well worth the money as well as having piece of mind.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RV TIRES
Now that we’ve discussed all the important things about the mechanics end of tire safety, let’s learn how to take care of your tires properly.
RV tire covers are crucial for extending the life of your RV tires when your motorhome or camper is parked in storage or at a park for a lengthy visit. Tire covers help to keep harmful UV rays from the sun from degrading the sidewalls of your tires thus shortening your RV tire’s life.
You can purchase single, double, or triple axle tire covers. Be sure to measure your RV’s tires to ensure you get the correct size covers.
The color of the cover is completely up to you. They typically come in gray, white, tan or black. Most RVers will purchase a cover color that enhances the look of their RV.
That said, black tire covers tend to get hot in the sun while white tire covers will to show dirt and wear faster. So, we recommend buying tan or gray tire covers.
Here are some examples. Click on each image for more information:
Tire Protectorant Applications
There are two kinds of tire application products; water-based and solvent-based. Water-based tire applications are more earth-friendly while still offering a sleek new-tire appearance.
However, solvent-based applications are primarily of petroleum distillates which are dangerously harmful to the tires as well as brakes and brake pads. Besides being water-resistant, over the course of time, each layer of application will cause the tire sidewall surface to turn brown. Worse, those solvents will lead to premature cracking of the rubber.
In our opinion, aerosol tire applications should never be used on any tires; regardless of vehicle. Because they are petroleum-based, most tire applications will have a negative impact on tire wearability and effectiveness. While shiny tires may look cool, be weary of these products that will degrade your tires.
Furthermore, petroleum, silicone or chemical products are not environmentally-friendly. Each time it rains or you wash your RV, those solvents are going down the storm drains and into our ecosystem.
Additionally, consider the health issues that could stem from using tire application products (ie. inhaling, skin contact, etc.).
We use two products from Aero Cosmetics because we trust their products and have tested them.
Click on each product for more information:
So, in other words, it’s best to just give your tires a good bath after washing your RV with a good tire scrub brush; removing oils, tar and other road grime. We also use Aero Cosmetics Rubber Care to preserve the tires.
Think of your RV tires like the bottom of your shoes. Save the primping for your shiny rims. Be very careful not to overspray cleaners, chrome polishes and waxes onto your tire’s sidewalls. And never ever spray anything other than plain water onto your tire treads.
So, that covers all of our RV tire safety and maintenance tips as well as some accessories we recommend and use.
Just remember, like your shoes, your RV (or any vehicle) tires are the most important component on your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer. Lastly, always consult your tire manufacturers’ maintenance and care recommendations.
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