Trailer and motorhome tires are the unsung heroes of the RV world. They get put to the test daily by carrying heavy loads and enduring all kinds of extreme road conditions. Even when not in use, they can wear down without owners giving their tires a second thought.
The wear and tear on RV tires can potentially catch up with RVers, usually when it’s least expected. According to Kal Tire of Vernon, British Columbia, giving your tires some added TLC and following these five tips, RVers can increase the life and performance of their tires to achieve a smooth, trouble-free season on the road.
1. Sidewall and tread blocks should be inspected for damage regularly
- After driving across rocky or rough terrain, inspect the sidewalls, treads, even the valves and caps for nails or other damaging debris. Also look for cuts, bulges, and signs of cracking and weathering.
- Some of the top-of-the-line RV tires feature scuff guards that resist sidewall damage from curbing, and according to Kal Tire, the sidewall shoulders in particular aren’t always a match for the debris they meet on the highways and byways.
2. Inflate to the recommended PSI
- To achieve the utmost performance, ensure the tires are inflated to the recommended PSI. Under-inflated tires can cause poor handling, increased or irregular wear, decreased fuel economy, and even structural damage. Over-inflated tires can cause uneven wear, and compromise traction, braking, handling and create a bumpy, noisy ride.
- To maintain the integrity and performance of your tires, Kal Tire suggests you check your RV tires every morning during travel, as well as before and after short distance trips, before and after storing your unit, and once a month in the off-season.
- For the most accurate reading, check your air when the tires are cold (and haven’t been driven for a few hours as temperature fluctuations lead to pressure fluctuations). Always use a truck tire gauge that features a dual-angled head for dual wheels.
- When traveling in high altitudes or extreme temperatures, inflation should be checked more regularly as both conditions can have a big impact on air pressure.
3. Always maintain an even load—never exceed the GVWR
- When your RV or trailer tires are supporting an even load and an acceptable weight, you’ll experience better handling, braking, fuel economy, tread life, and tread wear.
- For best results, pack up your RV or trailer with everything you’re taking and anything you might be towing. Then, visit a weigh station to get an accurate weight reading and ensure you’re not exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
4. Balance and rotate your tires regularly
- If your tires are out of balance, you’ll see cupping and uneven wear.
- Have your wheels balanced especially when you’re mounting new tires, when your tires are being rotated, when you’ve had a flat repaired, or any time a tire has been removed.
- Tire experts can advise you about rotating your RV tires and the owner’s manual will recommend the rotation pattern that’s best for your unit.
5. Key storage solutions
Taking care of your tires in the off-season is just as important as how they are taken care of during the travel season. While many RV tires now come with advanced weather- and crack-resistant rubber compounds, you can still extend the life an RV tire significantly with proper storage.
- Before storing your tires, clean them with a soap and water solution to eliminate any oils that have clung to the tread on the highway.
- Unload all your supplies so the tires are supporting only the minimum weight.
- Inflate your tires to the recommended PSI.
- Always use storage blocks to take the weight off your tires.
- Store your vehicle in a cool, dry space where the tires won’t be subject to direct sunlight.
- At least every 12 weeks—if the weather is mild—take your RV for a short drive to allow the make-up of the rubber compound to work, prevent cracking, and avoid getting flat spots.
Extra tips to remember:
- Due to the heavy loads and duty cycles of trailer tires, its recommended that trailer tires be replaced within three to five years, regardless of tread depth or usage.
- RVers must ensure they have the right kind of tires for their unit. Passenger tires are not meant for many trailers. RVs can be equipped with light truck tires, but most trailers require special trailer (ST) tires. They are built with stiffer, heavy-duty sidewalls that can accommodate heavy loads and track straight to reduce bounce and sway issues.