Taking Care of Your RV's Tires
You’re cruising along in your RV — perhaps on the picturesque roads of Washington’s Cascade Valley or the Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway of Georgia — when one of your RV tires gives up on you, blowing out and throwing a wrench into your travel plans. You’ll need a professional or some serious know-how to fix this situation on the fly, but there’s plenty you can do to prevent it from happening again. Here are some steps you can take before you hit the road.
Tire Condition and Pressure
The two most important facets of tire care, condition and pressure, go hand-in-hand. If your tires are in bad condition, they could be at risk of damage and leaking, or may be leaking already. And if the tire pressure is already low, the condition of the tire will deteriorate much quicker, exposing your tire to a blowout and your vehicle to an expensive trip to a body shop or mechanic.
To determine proper tire pressure, you’ll first need to know the current weight of your RV. While some may be comfortable merely estimating the weight of their RV, including all cargo and anything being towed, the safest and most accurate way to determine the weight is to drive the RV on a scale.
You can find truck scales that’ll weigh your RV at most truck stops, or you can search the internet for a truck scale near you. Once you’ve found a scale, load your RV up with all the cargo you’ll be travelling with, head to the station and weigh your vehicle.
Make sure your vehicle is not over its weight limits — both total weight and per axle. Once you get your RV under the limit, it’s time to find the load and inflation table for your specific kind of tire. These tables will tell you minimum PSI that your tires need to have to carry the weight your RV is carrying.
Be aware that if you have different sets of tires on your RV, you’ll need to use different tables to find the proper weight and PSI measurements.
Inflate each tire to the recommended PSI for the load, but don’t drastically overinflate. Overinflating or underinflating tires can lead to a rough ride and wear, or even tire blowouts.
Checking Your Tires
Unfortunately, your RV tires can lose inflation for a number of reasons, such as rough roads or a heavy cargo load, during a trip. To make sure you won’t push your tires towards a blowout, consider checking them prior to any outing, short or long.
Once you’re on your trip, check your tires daily, looking for any cracks, stretch marks or leaks and examine the tread. If you do notice any cracking on the sidewall of the tire, attempt to replace it as soon as possible. Sidewall treatments can actually make the condition of the tire deteriorate faster, so you’re likely better off getting a new tire and saying goodbye to the damaged one.
When checking your tires, always check them when they are cold — meaning the vehicle has recently been driven less than a mile, or has been stationary for at least three hours. Checking a tire’s pressure while it’s hot can lead to a drastic overestimation.
After you’ve completed your excursion and stored you RV away, consider purchasing tire covers to protect them from any other wear factors such as UV rays, which can slowly but surely decrease the quality and lifespan of a tire. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month while in storage to ensure that they’re holding air appropriately.
Keeping Your Tires Clean
In addition to checking your tire pressure frequently, you’ll want to keep them nice and clean, too. Cleaning your RV tires removes dirt, oils and other stuff from the road that can degenerate the tire and remove its protective qualities, reducing its lifespan and costing you more money in the long run. When cleaning the tire, simple is better — use a basic detergent and a soft-bristled brush, being careful to remove and materials that are stuck to or lodged in the tread of the tire.
Replacing Your RV Tires
If you do find that one or more of your tires are malfunctioning, you’ll almost always be better off purchasing a new tire than trying to patch or ride out the current tire. If the tires you’re replacing were the tires that came with the RV when it was new, you’d be wise to select the exact same type of tire to replace it. Any variation from the old tire, such as a new one with a different load rating, size or other property, should be approved by an expert. Failing to adhere to the specific standards set for your RV’s tires could damage the vehicle or cause an unfortunate, expensive and dangerous accident.
There’s no reason not to give your tires’ condition your full attention — after all, they’re what separates your treasured RV from the cold hard ground! Check out our RV coverages to see if you’re giving your vehicle the proper protection, and be sure to contact an agent if you have any questions.