7 Tips on Maintaining Your RV Tires during Storage

RV tires are vital to a safe, smooth trip, yet they are often the most overlooked parts of an RV

Traveling the country in your RV is an amazing experience but during the off-season, it’s crucial to make sure you’re keeping your investment properly stored.

Class A motorhome tires are one of the most important components of your RV which means you’ll want to ensure that they’re kept in storage the right way to keep them protected from damage.

Read on for a list of seven helpful tips you can use to maintain and store your tires so you’ll be ready to hit the road once again.

Check tires at rest areas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Keep them clean

Proper care of your RV tires revolves around keeping them clean and dry so that the natural lubricants in the rubber compound that protect your tires won’t erode over time. Road oil and dirt will also suck the life out of your tires so it’s important to keep your tires clean. Oil will deteriorate the rubber and dirt will act as a sponge and hold any contaminants next to the tire. Use a soft brush and mild soap to clean your tires.

Once they are clean you can use a tire dressing to protect your tires from aging but be very careful. Many of these treatments do more harm than good. Never use a dressing that contains petroleum products, alcohol, or silicone because they will cause sidewall cracking and accelerate the aging process. If you find a good tire dressing that does not contain these products, yet offers a UV barrier, your tires will benefit from it. I use 303 Protectant.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Cover your RV tires

Two other factors that dry out tire sidewalls are sunlight and ozone. Ozone eats rubber, so don’t park your RV in an area where welding is being done or near electrical generators or transformers as ozone is created by high electrical use. Sunlight contains harmful UV rays that dry out rubber so if you are going to be parking in a sunny area for a while it’s a good idea to cover your tires.

Look for a high-quality tire cover that’s UV-resistant since sunlight can quickly cause tires to wear down and potentially rot.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Rotate your tires

If you’re in a smaller RV, you may need to rotate your tires occasionally. In larger RVs, on the other hand, rotating your tires is a very difficult process. Due to wheel configurations, Class A motorhomes require wheels to be remounted when taken off and that’s a task that should ideally be performed by a service center to ensure it’s done correctly. Additionally, Newmar coaches install different-sized tires on the front and rear axles, making it dangerous to rotate from front to back or vice versa. Should the tires on your Class A coach require rotating, your preferred service center will be sure to tell you.

When your RV weight is unevenly distributed, it causes the tire tread to wear down which can result in a flat or a dangerous blowout. Try to keep even weight distribution throughout your coach to reduce the wear on your tires.

You’ll want to know How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout.

Not the way to treat your motorhome tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Check the air pressure

Too much or too little air pressure can wreak havoc on your tires even while in storage. Check to make sure that your tires are properly inflated before you store the RV for the off-season. Some manufacturers recommend you inflate them 25 percent more than normal while in storage.

Use an inflation gauge to check the pressure and look for an angled dual-foot pressure gauge if you want to test multiple tires. Always inflate them according to your specific RV’s manufacturer instructions which can be found in your owner’s manual or on the certification tag. While your RV is in storage, check the PSI levels monthly and reflate each tire as needed for the best results.

I have more on checking air pressure:

Cover the tires! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Lighten your load

A Class A motorhome is designed to withstand thousands of pounds of weight while you travel. From camping equipment to cooking appliances, all of that heaviness rests on your tires.

Before you store your RV for the off-season lighten the load as much as you can. Remove anything that doesn’t need to be inside so that it reduces the total weight and relieves some of the pressure that your tires will have to bear. The lighter the load, the lower the chances are that you’ll end up with an unwanted flat.

6. Age is more than a number

You might wonder what the motorhome tire life expectancy is. While each brand and each specific RV tire may have a different lifespan, it’s best to replace any tires that are older than six years of age.

Even if you take immaculate care of your tires, the standard maximum tire age for most RVs is around six years. As they age, there could be hidden damage you can’t see with the naked eye. The last thing you need is to head out on your adventure and end up dealing with a flat on the side of the road.

Read: When to Replace RV Tires

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Perform regular inspections

When it’s time to put your RV in storage, you should thoroughly inspect your tires first. Take a close look at the tread and make sure that each tire is evenly worn. Replace any tires that show signs of dry rot, extreme wear, or bulges.

Check the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for your RV and make sure that your tire tread has reasonable depth according to this information. With regular check-ups, you’ll feel good about the health of your tires so you can hit the road in confidence.

Take good care of your tires

With a little bit of effort, your RV tires should be able to handle anything that comes their way. Always check for things like air pressure and tread health before you put everything away in storage.

Cover your tires to protect them from the elements and to prolong their lifespan. Cleaning and rotating your tires will also ensure that they serve you well for many road trips to come.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

When to Replace RV Tires

Worried that tire dealers and manufacturers are exaggerating when you need to replace motorhome and trailer tires? Well, here’s when to replace RV tires.

When to replace RV tires is a very common question among RVers that has a very important answer—an answer that can not only save you money in the long run but a big headache, too. Not to mention it directly affects your safety!

“If I can offer some advice to newbies…replace all your tires. I don’t care how old they are, how good they look, how much tread they have. If you did not put them, just do it.”

The above advice recently appeared on a Facebook RV discussion group. While this advice may seem drastic, it’s based on a sound foundation. I’ll explain why in this article as well as cover the exceptions. 

Hint: the key phrase is “if you did not put them on.”

Check your tires at each rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Learn from others’ BAD experiences

I’m unaware of why the writer lives by this advice but it’s easy to assume he learned the hard way.

First, I want to further explain or express what may be the reasoning behind this strong recommendation.

You shouldn’t necessarily trust the tires that came with your RV (either new or used). So many trailer tires are garbage. Heat kills tires; they heat up from being overloaded, going too fast, and just hot roads. A lot of trailer tires used to be only rated for 65 mph. There is a difference in quality between manufacturers.

You can’t just go by age or tread of the tires. Even if you put them on and at some point ran the tires 30 percent or more below psi for weight, replace them. That is the problem with trusting older tires from a prior owner or owners. You have NO IDEA of how often they were run with low air pressure or even flat and they are compromised and WILL blow out.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When to replace RV tires

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 3-6 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 5-6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well cared for.

If you are driving on tires that you did not put on, you may not know the following:

  • The quality of the tires
  • If the tires were overloaded by a too-heavy RV
  • If the tires were underinflated
  • If the tires were extensively exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight

All of the above can drastically affect the durability of RV tires without affecting their appearance. So, they may look like new tires with little tread wear but that can be deceiving. They can even be new tires with no tread wear and still not be safe or reliable.

So, even if there’s no dry rot, serious signs of wear or uneven wear, or obvious damage to the tire sidewalls, that’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a blown tire.

By the way, if you don’t know already, you should read about the Danger of Underinflated RV Tires.

How to REALLY know when to replace RV tires

It could be wasteful to blindly follow the above social media comment. After all, some new and used RVs come with high-quality tires that received the proper care and were always driven at the proper tire pressure. But the advice should encourage you to carefully consider your RV tires along with the following information.

Check the DOT number

You can look at the DOT number on your tire to determine its age. A DOT serial number communicates a lot of information in a short series of numbers.

DOT Numbers Represent the following in order of their grouping on your tire:

  • DOT (Department of Transportation)
  • Tire manufacturer / plant code
  • Tire size code
  • Tire manufacturer
  • Date tires were made (first two numbers are week, second two are the year)

Research the type of tire and quality

Based on the second and fourth DOT number groupings, you can research the quality of the tire. Most tires usually have the name of the manufacturer engraved on the rubber, too.

A general rule (that a lot of RVers like to shout from the rooftops) is to replace any tire made in China. These types of tires have earned the dramatic nicknames of Chinese bombs and Chinese poppers and for good reason. Chinese brands seem to blow more than any other.

Tip: You can even go as deep as researching the RV manufacturer and if they’re known for tire blowouts.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Determine the age of the tire

By looking at the date code (the last four digits of the DOT), you can determine the age of your tires. If any tire is beyond the 5-year mark, this is a big tick on the replace side of your should I replace my RV tires chart.

If your trailer or motorhome tires are less than 5 years old and especially less than 3 years old, you can further consider the other factors in this article.

Ask the previous owners

If you’re buying used, it’s a good idea to ask the previous owner about their maintenance habits. Of course, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Its human nature to make it sound like you did a better job taking care of something than you actually did. But at least you can get an idea.

Questions you can ask:

  • How often did you check the tire pressure?
  • How much weight did you usually carry?
  • Did you ever carry any particularly heavy loads on a long road trip?
  • Did you use tire covers when you stored your RV?
  • Did you often travel at high speeds?

The best way to ask these questions is to preface them with a no-judgment disclosure. Start with something like, “I’m only asking the following to determine when I should replace the tires in the future. There’s no judgment on my part… I just need to know for my own safety.”

For the most honest answers, you should ask these questions after you’ve settled on a price.

Note: Many new RVs sit on the sales lot for a long time. So even new RV tires can be exposed to too much heat and underinflated before even leaving the lot.

Not the way to treat your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best tire tips for storing your RV

Now that you know what factors to consider in determining the realistic life of your tires, I want to leave you with some tire winterization tips.

RV tire tips for short-term and long-term storage

1. Visually inspect the tires before putting them into storage and again when taking the RV out of storage before the tires are back on the road. Look for any irregularities and differences or foreign materials in the tread that should be removed such as stones or other types of debris.

2. Store the RV in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight if possible.

3. If storing the RV outdoors place a surface barrier like a thin piece of wood under the tires to separate them from the ground. This will help protect the tires from the elements while stationary over long periods. It also will help them not to sink with the weight of the RV as the ground freezes and thaws.

4. If possible, lift the stored RV off the ground to take the load off the tires and wheels. Jack stands or lightweight trailer axel lift blocks are great for this task.

5. Cover tires to reduce exposure to sunlight and ozone. White coverings will reflect the sun and keep the tires cooler than darker covers. Specially designed tire covers work best for this task but so can white plastic trash bags.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Keep in mind that stored tires can lose air pressure and in two ways:

  • Temperature: No matter the brand, tires can lose ~1.5 percent of air pressure per 10 degrees F with temperature changes. Tires are subject to the Ideal Gas Law which simply means that as the temperature changes, so does air pressure within the tire—in other words, cold air contracts while warm air expands. So, it’s vital to check tire inflation when the tires are cold prior to use and re-inflate tires to their proper pressure as per the placard on the RV (or the original paperwork) before putting them back into service.
  • Sitting static: Tires lose about 3 percent inflation pressure per month while sitting around inflated and not running (at constant temperature). Again, re-inflate the tires to proper pressures before putting them back into use.

Taking the time to prepare your RV before you store it for the winter can help protect your investment for the long haul.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin                                                                                     

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout

It’s one of RVers’ biggest fears: a tire blowout. Here’s what to do if you have an RV tire blowout while driving and how to prevent it.

Many RVers share a common fear: an RV tire blowout. We’ve all heard the horror stories of RVers losing control of their RV when a tire blows. We’ve seen the scary images of flipped RVs and shredded motorhomes. 

But you shouldn’t be scared. You should just be prepared and know what to do if your tire blows while driving. 

I’m going to walk you through what to do in the moment and how to prevent it in the first place. 

IMPORTANT: What you should do is counterintuitive. So, please read!

What would you do if your RV tire blew? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to handle a tire blowout in your RV

I’m not here to offer you a guarantee. There is no foolproof way to maintain control in every circumstance. 

However, I are going to share simple ways of maintaining control of a vehicle by using established physical principles that have proven effective over the years if used quickly and properly.

So, while I can’t guarantee it, the following techniques will give you the best chance to maintain control of your RV if a tire blows. Allstate recommends the same techniques with the following steps.

Note: The principles are the same for every type of vehicle, loaded or empty.

Not the way to treat your RV tire! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. First, stay calm

2. Do NOT brake

Whatever you do, do not hit the brake pedal! That’s one of the surest ways to lose control. 

3. Do NOT take your foot off the gas pedal

If you ask drivers what to do when your tire blows, most will say to take your foot off the gas pedal. THAT IS NOT CORRECT!

Keep your foot where it is and immediately do the next step…

4. Accelerate

Yes, accelerate. It may seem counterintuitive but accelerating counteracts the sideways pull your RV experiences during a tire blowout.

Put simply, accelerating forces your RV to stay straight.

5. Correct steering as necessary

To offset the initial force of the blow and sideways pull, you’ll likely need to correct the steering to keep going straight. The key is doing the smallest steering adjustments possible. 

Do not overcorrect by whipping the wheel in the opposite direction of the pull. Try to make a series of small movements that help you maintain control.

Think of balancing a ball on the board. With small adjustments, you can keep the ball on the board. But any big, jerking movements send the ball flying off the board. In the same way, small adjustments will keep your RV on the road.

Use tire covers to protect your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Choose when and where to slow down and pull over

Once you have successfully maintained control of the vehicle, THEN it’s time to slow down and pull over. Again, do not hit the brakes or take your foot off the gas pedal.

Once you see a safe place to pull over, gradually release pressure on the gas pedal. Correct the steering as necessary as you slow down and gently steer it to your safe spot on the side of the road.

If you start to lose control again, accelerate. Regain control and release the pressure from the gas pedal even more gradually.

If possible, coast to a stop. Only press the brakes (gently!) if absolutely necessary and only once you have slowed enough to feel like you’re in complete control.

7. Turn on emergency lights and proceed with caution

Once you are safely on the side of the road, turn on your emergency lights. If it’s safe to exit the vehicle, get out your roadside emergency kit and place orange warning triangles or the equivalent behind your RV.

Assess whether it’s safe to change the tire yourself or contact roadside assistance. Be sure to check the wheel well and undercarriage for any damage.

Not the way to treat your RV tires! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summed up step-by-step

  • Stay calm
  • Do NOT brake
  • Do NOT take your foot off the gas pedal
  • Accelerate
  • Correct steering with the smallest adjustments possible
  • Identify a safe place to pull over
  • Gradually release pressure on the gas pedal
  • Gently steer to the safe spot on the side of the road
  • Coast to a stop
  • Turn on emergency lights
  • Proceed with caution, only exiting RV when safe
What would you do if your RV tire blew? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

IMPORTANT: Practice reacting to a tire blowout

I know what you’re thinking. How do you practice reacting to a tire blowout? The answer is visualization!

You should visualize what you will do if a tire blows out on you. And I don’t just mean to think about it. I mean visualize the sound, the feelings, and every step of your response. Even visualize the yelp your passenger emits when the tire blows!

Visualizing is the only realistic way to prepare yourself for a tire blowout. Studies with athletes have shown that imagining the full picture of a scene is nearly just as good as actually practicing.

This is important when it comes to tire blowouts because accelerating is counterintuitive. So, you need to overcome the natural reflex to hit the brakes or take your foot off the gas pedal.

Practice (visualize) accelerating and going through all of the steps. Otherwise, you might react badly even if you know the proper way to react! You might reflexively hit the brake or take your foot off the pedal. 

How to prevent a tire blowout

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Danger of Underinflated RV Tires

Do not drive with underinflated RV tires! I have some critical advice to save you lots of grief.

One of the most important but neglected parts of your RV: your tires. There is nothing more frightening than having a tire blow out while you are driving at highway speeds. Studies show that more than 30 percent of us drive with underinflated RV tires.

In an RV it is dangerous!

Maintaining proper tire pressure in your RV should always be a top priority but with summer underway, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your tires. The dangers of underinflated tires include increased risk for tire blowouts which in turn can cause you to lose control of your RV and potentially cause harm to your vehicle and other drivers on the road.

Not the way to care for your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What causes a tire blowout

There are a variety of reasons that an RV could experience a tire blowout but almost every cause for blowout can be traced back to the condition of the tire and whether or not it was properly inflated. In the summer, drivers have a tendency to underinflate tires, knowing that heat causes air to expand. This approach makes sense; however, in order to keep your tire pressure at a safe level, tires should always be inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications.

When tires are underinflated there is undue stress put on the internal components—the fabric, steel, rubber, etc. The extra heat of summer along with the low air pressure can cause these internal components to snap and break. If your RV tires are already weak or in poor condition, then you’re at an even greater risk for experiencing a blowout during the summer months.

Another cause of tire blowout includes overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have the capacity for. Overloading your vehicle poses its own set of dangers and puts too much pressure on your tires. As I discussed above, too much pressure paired with too much heat spells out disaster.

Potholes, uneven driving surfaces, and sharp debris left in the road can also cause RV drivers to experience a tire blowout. A pothole can cause an underinflated tire to explode if hit at just the right angle. When driving your RV you need to keep a lookout for potholes, debris, and other issues so you don’t put yourself and other drivers in danger.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What can you do to prevent a tire blowout?

Preventing a tire blowout from happening is of extreme importance as an RV driver. While there will always be factors that are out of your control, you need to take the time and effort necessary to do your part in keeping tires in safe working condition:

  • Always inspect your tires, checking for tread depth, signs of wear and tear, and most importantly, checking for adequate tire pressure
  • Make sure you aren’t overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have capacity for
  • Keep a watchful eye on the roadways looking out for debris or potholes that could cause tire damage
  • Maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles at all times just in case you would lose control of your vehicle due to a tire blowout

Tire blowouts can be very dangerous, not only for you but also for other unsuspecting drivers that have to swerve to avoid tire pieces. Follow these tips, maintain your tire pressure, and be safe driving this summer.

Is it safe to drive with low tire pressure?

Maintaining good tires is one of the most important parts of RV ownership. After all, without good tires, you won’t be traveling anywhere! Despite this, many people end up driving on low tire pressure which puts unnecessary strain on the tires and the entire vehicle. 

It’s a bad idea to drive with tires that are overinflated or underinflated because this shortens the lifespan of your RV tires. Although tires can be replaced once they blow, it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. Blowouts can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving at highway speeds when they occur. 

Driving with underinflated tire causes numerous problems for your RV, some more obvious than others. Below I’ll discuss a few of the risks you run when you drive with underfilled tires. I’ll also cover some tips for proper maintenance so you can enjoy disaster-free road trips. 

Check your tires at each stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Poor fuel mileage

One of the downsides of low tire pressure is the effect it has on your fuel efficiency. RVs are already fuel guzzlers so you don’t want to throw any extra money into that pit. If you drive with underinflated tires, your engine has to work harder to complete each rotation. This effort uses up your fuel and that means you need to stop for refills more frequently. 

Nobody wants to pay for extra gas, especially with the rising price of fuel. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended level will help you save money and keep your RV in better condition. 

Increased vehicle strain

Every part of an RV has to work in order to get it moving. Whether you’re driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer, there’s an engine that’s working hard. It doesn’t need to deal with the added stress that comes from driving on low tire pressure. 

RVs are also significant investments, so it’s important to keep them well maintained and in good driving condition. Keeping your tires properly inflated and performing regular maintenance ensures that everything is in good working order. Underinflated tires require your engine and the other automotive parts to work extra hard. In turn, this shortens the lifespan of your RV. 

Check your tire pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Uneven tread weathering

Driving with low tire pressure also puts unnecessary stress on the tires themselves. When your tires are underinflated they tend to slump and spread out. This means that more of the tire comes into contact with the road as you drive. 

Typically, only the center of a tire will face the wear and tear of the road. But if you drive on underinflated tires, the sides will also be exposed to this rough treatment. This weathers your tread in an uneven way. Even if you reinflate your tires later, some damage has already been done. 

Reduced traction

This is related to the point above. When you place extra stress on your tires and wear them down, you’ll inevitably lose some traction. All tires eventually wear out but you’ll speed up the process if you’re always driving on low tire pressure. 

Traction is very important for RVers, whether it’s the tires of your RV or the tow vehicle. You need to have as much grip as possible to get your rig moving and control its direction. Driving on snow, ice, mud, and gravel also becomes much harder if your tires have lost their traction. 

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Less responsive vehicle

Driving with compromised tires is extremely dangerous especially when you’re driving something as large and heavy as an RV. Tipping and swaying are already huge risks, so you’ll want to do everything you can to make the experience safer. 

Low-pressure tires make your vehicle less responsive to small adjustments. This is connected to the reduced traction and uneven wear and tear of the tread.

If your vehicle can’t respond quickly enough to turn, change lanes, or make other adjustments, you’re in trouble. You also might deal with some wobbling and drifting if your tires are out of shape. 

Increased risk of blowouts

One of the biggest risks of driving with low tire pressure is the increased likelihood of blowouts and flat tires. Blowouts are dangerous for you and everyone around you on the road.

It’s never fun to deal with a flat tire but it’s especially hard when you’re working with an RV. Because of their increased size and weight, it’s harder to jack them up and replace tires. In addition, you can’t always guarantee that there will be a mechanic nearby, so you have to rely on your roadside assistance program.

It’s imperative that you avoid tire blowouts at all costs. Maintaining the proper tire pressure is a great way to start. 

Tips for RV tire maintenance

If you want to keep your RV in the best possible condition, you need to practice proper RV tire maintenance. This means more than just replacing tires once they go flat. You need to include tires in your regular check-ups, so you don’t miss any budding problems.

There are also preventative measures you can take to keep your tires good for as long as possible. You should always check your tires before leaving on a long trip. Also, check them before and after you put your vehicle into storage for the winter. Below we have a few tips that will help you keep your tires properly filled and in great shape!

Use a tire pressure monitoring system

Tires can unexpectedly become damaged, even if you look after them. This is why a tire pressure monitoring system is a great gadget to have. It can alert you if your tire pressure is too low or too high, if a tire has a puncture, or if the temperature is too high. These early warnings will help you address problems before they become dangerous.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cover tires during storage

If you choose to store your RV during certain seasons, make sure you cover your tires. Quality tire covers will insulate your tires from extreme temperature changes, prevent UV damage, and keep them cleaner.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day and Here’s Why

Proper tire pressure is critically important not only to your safety but the life of your tires. Here is why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

RV tires are vital to a safe, smooth trip, yet they are often the most overlooked parts of an RV. People know they need to check them but they don’t realize how often they should check them.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Isn’t that overkill?! It’s really not and I’ll tell you why. (Spoiler alert: it’ll save you time, money, and headaches!)

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV tires: What you need to know

I’m writing this article because I realized I have been neglecting the topic up to this point. In truth, I started to get too lackadaisical about my tire maintenance (like all RVers do from time to time). I needed a kick in my pants to remind me of how important RV tire care and maintenance really is. 

When I got my kick in the pants, I checked my blog to see what posts I had to help my readers that I could update. Too few, it turns out! That spurred me to write a series of new blogs. 

So, let’s start this series and answer why checking RV tire pressure is so important.

Why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

Checking your RV tire pressure takes less than 5 minutes and makes a big difference in keeping you safe, keeping you off the side of the road, and keeping money in your pocket. 

Let’s begin with the most important benefit: your safety.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The danger of underinflated tires

Underinflated RV tires lead to blowouts. It’s as simple (and as dangerous) as that. I hope you’ve never had an RV tire blowout but if you have you know how scary it is. 

When your RV tire blows, it can cause serious problems like loss of steering control, swaying, and even a fire. The debris from the blown tire can cause bouncing and possibly damage your RV, too.

Needless to say, you want to do everything you can to prevent RV tire blowouts. While some causes are out of your control (like debris in the road), tire pressure is something you can properly maintain.

If tire pressure is too low, too much of the tire’s surface area touches the road which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tires to overheat which can lead to premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts.

Let’s talk about premature wear and tread separation now.

Incorrect tire pressure shortens the lifespan of RV tires

You might think that tire dealers and manufacturers try to get you to replace your tires earlier to make more money but the lifespan of RV tires is truthfully quite short. 

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 5-7 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well taken care of. Underinflated tires can drastically decrease that projected lifespan.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3 products to help you check and maintain tire pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is easy if you have the right tools. I recommend the following (or some comparable version of the following).

1. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Every RVer should carry a tire pressure gauge. However, there is a better tool. Instead of checking your tire pressure manually, you can monitor it with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). With this system, you just have to look at the display to check your tire pressure before you leave.

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System does exactly what its name implies. It displays a readout and/or gives you real-time status reports on all of your RV tires.

If a tire gets too low, it alerts you with a sound and flashes a message. Some show you exactly which tire is underinflated while others just alert you to check your tires.

Some RVs have a TPMS built in, but not all do. If yours doesn’t, you can install an after-market system.

2. Portable Air Compressor

A recommended air compressor is the Viair 40047-400P RV model. The RV means it is made for RVs and the unit is powered by jumper cables that attach to the battery of your vehicle.

It comes in a sturdy canvas bag and has all the accessories including a hose, inflators, and a pressure gauge. It is very easy to hook up and operate. 

It’s not the cheapest air compressor but it is considered by many to be the best.

3. Emergency Roadside Kit

No matter what precautions you take, RV blowouts can still happen. So, at the very least, you should carry LED road flares and/or orange warning triangles. Better yet, you can carry a whole kit.

In addition to having an emergency roadside kit, I highly recommend RV roadside assistance. At some point or another, every RVers ends up on the side of the road. It’s just a fact of the RV lifestyle.

Check your RV tires at every rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight distribution and loading your RV

It’s extremely important to balance your cargo throughout your rig so that the weight is evenly distributed across your axles and each tire. If one side or tire is loaded to more than its weight rating you are more likely to experience a blowout. When loading your RV, keep in mind that certain items like batteries and a generator weigh more than others. You’ll also want to pay attention to your layout—if your kitchen is on one side of your rig, load cargo on the opposite side to even out the distribution. Make sure you distribute the weight equally from front to back and side to side. 

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FAQs about tires

Why should tires not be underinflated?

Underinflated tires can negatively affect a vehicle’s performance in several ways. For one, underinflation can reduce a tire’s load-carrying capacity which means the tire is more likely to fail when carrying heavy loads. This can be especially dangerous when driving on highways or other roads where high speeds are common.

Underinflated tires can also reduce a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Because underinflated tires have a larger contact patch with the road, they create more rolling resistance which means the vehicle’s engine has to work harder to maintain the same speed. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased fuel consumption.

Finally, underinflated tires can also cause a vehicle to handle poorly. Because the tire’s contact patch with the road is larger, the vehicle is less stable and more likely to hydroplane or lose traction in wet or slippery conditions. This can increase the risk of accidents especially on roads with poor visibility or other hazardous conditions.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the best way to check tire inflation?

The best way to check tire inflation is to use a tire pressure gauge. A tire pressure gauge is a small tool that measures the air pressure in a tire and displays the reading on a dial or digital display. To use a tire pressure gauge, you simply remove the valve cap from the tire’s valve stem and press the gauge onto the stem. The gauge will then display the tire’s air pressure allowing you to determine if the tire is properly inflated.

It’s important to check your tire pressure regularly as it can fluctuate due to changes in temperature and other factors. Most tire manufacturers recommend checking the tire pressure at least once a month and before each road trips. Additionally, you should always check your tire pressure before driving after your vehicle has been parked for an extended period of time as this can cause the tire pressure to drop.

When checking your tire pressure, it’s important to use a reliable tire pressure gauge and to check the pressure when the tires are cold as driving can cause the tire pressure to increase. It’s also a good idea to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This will help ensure that your tires are properly inflated and operating at their optimal level.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many accidents are caused by tire problems?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many accidents are caused by tire problems as tire-related issues are not always the primary cause of accidents. However, tire failure can certainly contribute to accidents and it’s important to properly maintain your tires to help prevent accidents and ensure safe driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire failure is a contributing factor in approximately 11,000 car accidents each year in the United States. These accidents can range from minor incidents with no injuries to serious accidents that result in fatalities.

To help prevent tire-related accidents, it’s important to properly maintain your tires and regularly check their inflation and tread depth. You should also inspect your tires for any signs of damage or wear and replace them when necessary. By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure that your tires are in good condition and reduce the risk of accidents.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How are RV tires different than motor vehicle tires?

RV tires are specifically designed for use on recreational vehicles such as motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, and camper vans. These tires are typically larger and more heavy-duty than regular passenger vehicle tires as RVs tend to be larger and heavier than most cars and trucks.

One of the key differences between RV tires and regular tires is their load-carrying capacity. RV tires are designed to support the weight of the vehicle and its contents which can be much greater than the weight of a passenger vehicle. As a result, RV tires are typically larger and have stronger construction than regular tires.

Another difference between RV tires and regular tires is their tread pattern. RV tires are designed to provide good traction on a variety of road surfaces including wet and slippery roads. They often have a more aggressive tread pattern than regular tires which helps improve traction and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

Additionally, RV tires are typically designed to withstand the unique demands of long road trips. This means they are often made from special compounds that resist heat, wear, and punctures which helps extend their lifespan and improve their performance over long distances.

Overall, RV tires are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of recreational vehicles and are typically larger, more durable, and more specialized than regular passenger vehicle tires.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do I know when a tire is bad?

There are a few signs that a tire may be bad and in need of replacement. One of the most obvious signs is if the tire has a visible bulge or blister on the sidewall. This can be a sign of a serious issue with the tire’s structure and can cause a sudden failure while driving.

Additionally, if the tread on the tire is worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch, it is likely time to replace the tire.

Another way to tell if a tire is bad is if it is showing signs of age such as cracking on the sidewall or tread. It is generally recommended to replace tires every six years even if they still have tread on them.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

RV Spring Cleaning Tips for Every Season

When the weather starts turning warmer and thoughts turn to planning epic RV road trips, there are numerous RV maintenance tasks to complete including RV spring cleaning

Spring is the traditional start to the traveling season for many RVers. While you’re busy planning trips and dreaming of life on the open road, don’t forget to get the RV ready for the season by giving it a good deep cleaning. And for those who live full-time in their RVs, spring is also the perfect opportunity to clean out all that dust and dirt that has been building over the winter.

Spring is a great time to give your RV a thorough cleaning. There’s something about spring showers and fresh flowers that inspire us to refresh our living spaces.

But, really, any time is a good time to declutter and spruce up your RV. No matter the season, these RV spring cleaning tips will help you clean, declutter, and organize. So, whether it’s spring or winter, summer or fall, here are the tools, tips, and tricks you’ll need for RV spring cleaning.

Cleaning the RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tools needed to get the job done

Just like any project, the right tools make a job easier! So, the best way to begin is to gather your tools and cleaning products for a good spring cleaning.

The following items come in handy:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Clorox wipes
  • Swiffer dusters
  • Paper towels
  • Q-tips
  • Favorite interior cleaning solution
  • Favorite exterior cleaning solution
  • Mop or steamer
  • Bucket for warm water
  • Garden hose
  • Vacuum with hose attachment and/or hand vacuum
  • Ladder
  • Power washer (optional)
Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make your own cleaner

If you’re concerned about toxic chemicals and would rather not use commercial cleaning solutions, you can make your own.

A damp cloth and hot soapy water go a long way. Or you can add a cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water for bleach-safe surfaces. You can easily google how to use household items like lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda to make DIY cleaning solutions.

Okay…you’ve gathered your cleaning helpers—it’s time to get down to business!

Like any big project, you’ll have better luck with your RV spring cleaning if you go in with a plan. After all, your motorhome (or other type of recreational vehicle) is just that—a home on wheels. There’s a lot to tackle!

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV spring cleaning: The interior

It’s a good idea to start with the inside and work your way out. Or, you can divide and conquer with your travel companions.

However you tackle the job you’ll want to thoroughly clean the interior including the furniture, appliances, floors, and walls. That means vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, and removing any built-up dirt and grime.

When cleaning any space, it is always most logical to start at the top and work your way down. In an RV, this can also allow you to check for leaks or other potential issues that may have sprung up over the winter or while the RV was in storage. Depending on the texture of your ceiling, you may need to wipe it down or even vacuum it if the ceiling is carpeted. Be sure to clear out the cobwebs in your vents and begin clearing off your fans as well. Depending on how much build-up there is, your fans may need to be unscrewed and hand washed.

You’ll also want to sanitize surfaces to prevent the spread of germs. This includes wiping down counters, sinks, and toiletries and disinfecting high-touch areas like door handles and light switches. (Cue the Clorox wipes)

The kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kitchen

Wipe down all countertops and cabinets (inside and out). This is a great opportunity to declutter your kitchen cabinets.

Take out all of the items and only put back the ones you’ve actually used on your last three RV trips. You’ll be surprised at how much space you’ve been wasting with unused kitchen appliances, excess pots and pans, etc.

Be sure to clean the nooks and crannies of the oven and microwave, as well.

You will also want to wipe out and sanitize your fridge. RV fridges are known for getting a musty smell over time. To avoid this, take out everything and clean every nook and cranny. And use this opportunity to throw out expired products (Yep, we’re coming for you, mustard!)

Most RV fridges can have the drawers and shelves removed for deep cleaning and anything that is not removable can be cleaned with cleaning spray and rags or paper towels.

Bathroom

When cleaning the RV bathroom, start from the top and work your way down. Organic matter may stick to walls and mirrors and as you work your way down it may fall to other surfaces or the ground. By starting tall, you avoid spreading the matter around.

NEVER use bleach or abrasive cleaners in the RV kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower-tub, or toilet. These products can damage the surfaces and holding tanks and degrade the seals around your tanks—causing an unpleasant and messy problem. Use only mild soaps or products specifically made for RVs. Or, use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.

Give your RV toilets a good cleaning by scrubbing the bowl and wiping down the outside. Then wipe down the sink countertop and the outside of any cabinets.

Finally, wipe down the shower walls and bathtub or shower floor. This is also a good time to check your shower curtain for rips, tears, and mold.

As you clean, consider how you can better organize your bathroom.

Cab area

If your RV is drivable, don’t forget to deep clean the cab area. Remove and wash any seat covers and wipe or dust the dashboard area. Don’t forget to clean the big window too as well as the driver and passenger windows as well. In addition, be sure to vacuum out the seats and any hard-to-reach areas that your broom may not be able to access.

The bedroom © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bedroom

Aside from the funky built-in nightstands and other storage spaces, your RV’s bedroom should need similar cleaning to the one in your house. If you stored your RV with the bed made, be sure to strip the bed and wash everything. If not, you may need to give your mattress a quick vacuum depending on how dusty it became. In addition, be sure to clean the nightstands and other storage areas inside and out. 

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ceiling fans and vents

If your RV has ceiling fans, giving them a quick wipe is a good idea. These are often overlooked and have many dust bunnies hiding in plain sight.

The same goes for vents and screen windows. Use a vacuum, duster, or those nifty Swiffer dusters to remove dust from vent covers. If you have air filters, swap them out.

Test smoke alarms and CO and LP gas detectors and replace the batteries as necessary. Check fire extinguishers, and refill first aid kit and emergency kits as needed.

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV floors

The floor material in your RV will vary but most come with a laminate floor of sorts which can be easily swept and mopped. Any areas with carpet will need to be vacuumed. It makes sense to save this step for last since lots of dirt and debris will be falling on the floor while you are cleaning all the other areas of the RV.

Sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors in each room. Notice I said and not or. Granted, you don’t want to mop your carpet. But my point is to clean your floor in multiple stages.

For hard surfaces, sweep any debris out from corners, vacuum everything, and mop for the final touch.

Of course, it’s a good idea to do this last so you can exit the RV while the floors dry. That way, you avoid making them dirty again by walking on them.

You will also avoid having to wait until they dry to clean other spaces in the RV.

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Organize as you go

RV spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing. It’s also about decluttering and organizing. This is especially true of storage spaces, kitchen cabinets, and closets.

Here are some helpful resources:

Springtime is a great time to look for great dollar-store finds for your RV including organizers for closets and drawers and dehumidifers.

Dehumifer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV spring cleaning: The exterior

Keeping the RV’s exterior in good condition not only enhances its appearance but also helps protect it from the elements. This may involve washing and waxing the paint and repairing any chips or scratches to maintain its shine.

Wash the exterior in the shade with mild soap remembering to clean the tires.

Wash the exterior of your RV to remove any built-up dirt and grime. This may be done by hand or with a pressure washer and may also involve cleaning the wheels and undercarriage.

Dehumidifer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since there are myriad RV cleaning products on the market, choosing the one that’s right for you can be a challenge.

Opt for a high-quality cleaner that will help make the finish on your RV last longer. Look for a multi-purpose RV cleaner as well to save some money.

Some cleaners are created for special purposes such as cleaning awnings or rubber roofs but others can be used for a variety of cleaning applications inside and outside your coach. The best solution is an RV cleaner with several applications to save your pocketbook.

It’s best to clean the RV from the top down. First, head up on the RV roof. Inspect the sealant around the roof vents, air conditioner, and all roof seams for signs of cracks or deterioration.

Giving your RV a good wax will also help protect it over time from the elements. It will also make it look nice.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some helpful resources:

Storage areas

Over time your RV storage space can get crowded. Many people toss items they might need on a trip that never gets used. Some forgotten things take up precious cargo space and unnecessarily add weight to your rig for years.

A storage area is a small space, so thoroughly clean it to make the most of it. Organize the items that you want to leave in there. Take out and discard unused or expired items (like chemicals).

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check for damage and perform routine maintenance

While washing the exterior, inspect the RV for any damage that may have occurred over the winter months. This includes checking for cracks, dents, or other damage to the body, roof, and windows.

You will also want to check for any leaky seals on the roof and slides. 

Plumbing system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plumbing system

This involves checking the pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaks or damage and ensuring that all systems are functioning correctly. It may also include flushing the water tank, cleaning the filters, and checking the water pressure.

This is a great time to clean your holding tanks and sanitize your water system.

Sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical system

This involves checking the electrical system for any issues, such as loose connections, frayed wires, or damaged components. It’s essential to ensure that all electrical systems are functioning correctly, including the lights, fans, and appliances.

HVAC system

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system should be checked for proper function including the thermostat, ductwork, and fans. This can help to ensure that the RV is comfortable and energy efficient.

Awning

One part of your RV that’s easy to forget during the RV spring cleaning process is your awning. But trust me—you’ll remember it the first time you go to use it. What RV spring cleaning routine would be complete without these key components getting tidied up at the same time?

As part of your spring cleaning, take care of your awning so that it’s ready to take care of you when the time comes this summer. Keeping it clean is a great way to make sure it’s ready to use and will last for many years to come.

RV tire check © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tire Check

Don’t forget the tires during RV spring cleaning. Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means increased fuel fuel costs. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowouts.

RV tire check © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inspect tires for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls or between the treads. Treat these seriously and get them repaired before you head out for your first camping trip. Don’t forget to check that your lug nuts are tightened. If you have a travel or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Thoroughly clean the rims and tires and then apply UV protectant to help reduce the effects of exposure to the sun. For this part of our RV spring cleaning, I like to use Aerospace brand products—303 Wheel and Tire Cleaner and 303 Automotive Protectant.

Use latex gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Battery Check

Check your RVs batteries and top off cells with distilled water. Be sure to replace multiple battery banks together. If your batteries need to be cleaned, make sure they are disconnected and use a hot water and baking soda mixture to clean them. Wear safety glasses and latex gloves.

Other important systems

In addition to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, it’s essential to check other vital systems such as the brakes, suspension, and tires. Regular maintenance can help prevent issues during the camping season, ensuring a smooth and safe trip.

And finally, admire a great job well done.

A cleaning job well done © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There, what a beautiful RV.

It is now time to crack open your favorite beverage and sit back and admire your gleaming rig. Best to let it all soak in quick because that next rain, dust storm, or mud covered adventure is on the way.

Worth Pondering…

A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.

Safety Dance

There is nothing in this world as wonderful as an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, so it’s best to prevent tragedy before it has the opportunity to occur. RV owners need to be aware of this and other potential issues as they travel.

The recent tragic carbon-monoxide-related death of three friends vacationing in Mexico is a somber reminder for everyone to pay attention to safety. While this certainly applies to all of us in our daily lives, this article will address RV safety. RV owners must be constantly aware of several safety-related issues to help protect their units and their families on the road. Let’s start with combustible gas.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas often formed by incomplete combustion in propane and natural gas appliances. Since most RVs have several propane appliances on board, they are prime candidates for carbon monoxide to be present—thus the importance of annual propane system maintenance by an RV service professional.

During a yearly inspection, an RV technician will thoroughly examine the propane system and appliances for proper operation. This includes checking for leaks, proper pressure, and appliance condition.

At the very least, the RV’s furnace, water heater, and fridge (unless it’s a residential unit) all utilize combustion. If these appliances are not regularly checked and maintained, the burners may become damaged or drift out of adjustment and potentially result in incomplete combustion and CO emission.

Electric heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For instance, a furnace burner operates inside a sealed combustion chamber that vents outside the RV. Heat inside the RV is generated by blowing air across the combustion chamber and into the living space. If the combustion chamber becomes damaged or is not completely sealed and the burner does not have the correct fuel or air mixture, carbon monoxide can result and leak into the RV. So, if the appliances are not regularly maintained, there is a risk of CO entering the living space. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that is difficult to detect before it’s too late.

>> Related article: 9 RV Fire Hazards and How to Avoid Them

The best way to protect your family from the dangers of CO, both in your home and your RV, is to have working carbon monoxide alarms installed. If your CO alarms are battery operated, be sure to replace the batteries twice per year. If you live or travel in an area where daylight savings time is observed, I recommend replacing the batteries in your propane and CO alarms when you change your clocks. Otherwise, set yourself a reminder to replace the batteries.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If your detectors are wired into your RV’s 12-volt system, monitor the power LED on the alarm to make sure it is green. Test these devices regularly for proper operation; your CO alarm will have a button that should be pressed once a month or so for this purpose. Carbon monoxide mixes with air; therefore, CO alarms may be placed at any height from floor to ceiling.

Finally, be sure to replace your CO alarm every 10 to 15 years as indicated in the manufacturer’s documentation. The device should have a manufacture date stamped on the back.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I know it can be tempting to take the batteries out of your RV smoke alarm after it goes off for the tenth time when you are just making toast. Don’t do it. Working smoke detectors really do save lives. Test your smoke detector monthly and change the batteries twice a year around daylight savings time. 

Like carbon monoxide, propane gas is odorless and colorless; however, ethyl mercaptan, an odorant that smells like rotten eggs, is added to propane and natural gas for safety reasons. A propane detector will sense the presence of propane in the air long before the ethyl mercaptan is smelled by humans.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Treat the propane detector the same as the CO alarm including regular testing. Propane gas is heavier than air; therefore, detectors must be placed near the floor in an RV. While propane is generally an extremely safe energy source, it is important to respect it to eliminate risk wherever possible. To this end, always make sure to turn your propane containers off during travel. It is illegal in some places to travel with open propane containers, but even if it’s legal, it doesn’t make it safe.

>> Related article: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Make sure you have at least one working fire extinguisher in your RV, although I recommend owning at least two. Most RVs are sold with one 2-pound fire extinguisher. This is not large enough to handle a significant fire. I recommend installing at least one extra extinguisher (type A, B, C). One should be near the main entry door (likely the place where the factory-installed extinguisher will be located) and one in the rear especially if the bedroom is in the back.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You may opt to install additional extinguishers and/or a fire-suppression system in the engine bay and behind the fridge. The extinguishers should be at least 5 pounds in capacity. Have the extinguishers professionally inspected yearly and make sure you know how to use them. This is something RV dealerships don’t show you when they perform the walk-through on your new RV.

In other safety considerations, ensure all your exterior lights are in proper operating condition. This includes clearance lights and running, tail, brake, fog, and signal lights. Lights should be checked prior to each trip.

Regularly inspect tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you have a trailer or a motorhome, have the chassis serviced regularly and inspect the brakes and tires. RV tires tend to age out before they wear out. They often will not show signs of wear, even as they begin to reach the end of their life. It is important to have your tires regularly inspected by a professional tire technician. Tires last an average of five to seven years from date of manufacture. However, this varies widely and tire manufacturers recommend visual inspections by experts on a regular basis.

>> Related article: How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your RV?

It is also important to run the correct tire pressures for your RV. This is not usually the tire pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire but based on the weight of your RV and each wheel position.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trailer owners should ensure the towing systems are well maintained and operated properly, specifically the coupler, equalizer, safety chains, wiring harness, and breakaway cable. Motorhome owners who tow another vehicle also must be vigilant about inspecting their towing equipment on a regular basis.

>> Related article: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

It is fundamentally important to properly maintain all RV systems to help avoid damage, injury, or death to yourself or others. Resist the temptation to take these systems for granted.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

The Ultimate Guide to RV Tires

Be in the know about RV tires

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway. You wouldn’t go anywhere without them. You must do your due diligence to protect them and keep them in optimal shape. If you take care of them, they’re more likely to take care of you. 

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The tires of your RV are one of the most important investments you can make. Not only do they make it sail down the road smoothly, they’re also a big part in keeping you and your fellow travelers safe.

Just like with cars and trucks, tires wear down from normal use or occasionally require a replacement due to damage. It’s essential to keep your tires in top shape to encourage safety and ensure you have optimal control over your rig. Here’s a guide to understanding your RV tire options.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need RV replacement tires?

Many things affect the quality of your coach’s tires. Always inspect each tire before driving. Look for cracks, protruding objects, and bulging that may indicate low air pressure. This quick check can prevent you from getting on the road and having to call for a tow due to tire problems.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Age

Most manufacturers recommend replacing RV tires every five to seven years regardless of mileage. At this point, the treads may have diminished, limiting traction with the road and reducing your ability to control the rig. The rubber is more likely to blow out because it has thinned and stretched due to temperature and condition changes. Even if you seldom drive the RV, the tires wear out from holding the weight of the rig.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All tires made after 2000 must have the manufacture date written on the sidewall in the DOT code. To find when your tires were made, look for the numbers on the sidewall after “DOT.” The last four digits indicate the week and year they were made. For example, “1718” tires were made during the 17th week of 2018. Consider an RV tire upgrade if yours are five years old or older.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weather

The environment takes a toll on your RV. Changing temperatures affect tire air pressure and cause wear. High temperatures expand the air increasing pressure and stretching the material. Low temperatures make the air contract reducing the amount of air and putting pressure on tire sidewalls while increasing the likelihood of a blowout.

More on RV safety: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road conditions

Some RV owners only drive their rigs on well-maintained paved roads. Others use their home-away-from-home to visit areas with less-than-perfect pavement. Driving on gravel, dirt, or ill-maintained roads will decrease the life of your tires. These conditions require the tires to absorb more upward movement from bumps and potholes, wearing out the material more quickly. Stick to roads with even pavement and avoid potholes as much as possible to minimize tire wear.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Extending RV tire life

Follow proper air pressure

Underinflated tires have more resistance and require more fuel due to friction. They also generate more heat during use increasing their likelihood of blowing out. Using too little air will require more frequent RV tire replacement.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overinflated tires are less flexible and can contribute to a less comfortable ride. The unnecessary stress of too-high pressure will cause the tires to wear faster near the center of the tread. Too much air also increases the chances of a blowout.

Tire manufacturers offer the suggested air pressure on tire sidewalls near the manufacture date. This number will be written in pounds per square inch (PSI). Always carry a heavy duty tire pressure gauge and check it before driving to ensure your tires are in top shape. Gas stations and mechanic shops have air compressors to make it convenient to fill up. Some coaches include tire pressure monitoring systems to make checking PSI easy.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to maintain the optimal tire pressure for the best quality ride, weigh each wheel position of the fully loaded RV and then check the tire manufacturers inflation chart for that tire and adjust the inflation pressures to match the tire manufacturers recommendations based on the actual tire loads taking into consideration that tires on both ends of any given axle should be running at the same pressure and the pressure selected should be appropriate for the heaviest loaded tire side.

More on RV safety: April 2022 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 15 Recalls Involving 8 RV Manufactures

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With a temperature decrease you may need to add some air with a compressor. If you drive into higher-temperature areas, you might have to release some air from the tires to prevent pressure problems. Press a screwdriver to the metal pin in the middle of the tire air stem to release air for a second or two. Recheck the pressure and follow this process until you reach the desired PSI.

Your RV manual will state the best tire pressure for your rig. This number is also noted on a data plate on the inside of the RV along with the VIN and weight capacity. Your vehicle might feature this plate on the electrical box near the driver’s seat at the back of a cabinet or inside a cabinet door. 

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Protect the tires

There are steps you can take to extend the life of your rig’s tires. Rotate RV tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles to promote even wear. Use tire covers when storing your rig to protect the material from precipitation, heat, and debris.

Choosing RV replacement tires

Here is some information to consider before heading to an RV dealership in search of new tires.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight

Your new RV tires must be able to handle the weight of your rig. Class A motorhomes weigh between 15,000 and 54,000 pounds and can be up to 45-feet long. Class B rigs are 6,000 to 8,000 pounds and range from 17 to 19 feet. Class C tires must withstand 10,000 to 20,000 pounds and reach from 20 to 30-feet-long. This information is listed on the data plate inside the rig and in the owner’s manual. Know your vehicle’s weight to ensure you purchase the correct tires to handle your RV.

Make sure your current tires are correct for your rig before using their information to establish which model to purchase next. If the current set is not the appropriate size, you may invest in the wrong tires for your RV. You can verify the tires with a mechanic, an RV dealership, or a tire specialist. If the tires are correct, you can use their specs to inform your new purchase.

More on RV safety: 10 RV Driving Tips

The tires have numbers indicating their size, like 315/80R 22.5. The first number is the width of the tire wall while the second number is the height of the wall as a percent of the width section. The R means it has radial construction and the last number refers to which wheel rim size the tire will fit.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Speed Rating

Not all tires are rated for the same speed. Installing tires with a low speed rating could create hazard if the RV is driven at speeds higher than the rating of the tire. So if you’re usually taking it slow on local and backroads and avoid the highway, you’ll want different tires than if you’re cruising on interstates.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Season

Having the right tires is especially important if you drive in cold, icy places. Worn-out or bald treads will limit steering capacity and braking, potentially causing you to skid off the road or lose control more easily. If you regularly adventure in winter climates, consider investing in a set of snow tires. These models have thicker treads to promote traction on slippery surfaces. You can switch to these models before heading to snowy places.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some states and Canadian provinces require RV drivers to carry snow chains. These net-like chains go over your tires and provide grip for inclement weather. Avoid driving in blizzard or whiteout conditions whenever possible but keep these tools on hand in case of an emergency.

More on RV safety: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Replacement RV tires are a big decision, so don’t be afraid to contact your dealership or tire specialist and ask questions.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign