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

What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit

25 tools you need on hand for your RV

For the most part, a basic RV tool kit is what every RVer needs. And when I say basic, I really do mean BASIC—the parts and tools you’ll most likely actually USE at some point.

Why You Need an RV Tool Kit?

Driving an RV down the road is frequently compared to owning a home that goes through a continuous earthquake and hurricane at the same time. Because of this, things frequently go wrong and need to be repaired. Whether you are handy or not (and I’m not), you will find it helpful to have a set of tools for simple fixes or even major repairs. Often a problem can at least be patched up to prevent further damage until a proper fix can be made.

What is an RV Tool Kit?

An RV tool kit is a collection of standard tools and items to assist with RV repairs and maintenance. Different situations call for various tools, so having an array of commonly used items can be handy.

Your RV set-up may require certain tools © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tool Kit Basics

Ready to hit the road? Not so fast! Let’s take a moment to inventory that tool kit of yours. I’ve rounded up a list of tools you want in your tool kit before you hit the road. Unnecessary tools waste space and add weight to your RV. You don’t want to carry around tools you’ll never use–and you certainly don’t want to be without the right tools when you need them most! Let’s look at some tools I think anyone should have in their RV tool kit. Cheers to a fun (and prepared) RV adventure!

Heavy-duty work gloves

Your hands can take a beating while RVing. A pair of heavy-duty work gloves can protect your hands when working on odd jobs or doing repairs. They can also add grip when needed. 

Multi-tool

Put fixing power in your pocket with multi-tools including pull-out knives, screwdrivers, scissors, bottle opener, and pliers from top brands like Leatherman, Victorinox, Gerber, and Outbound. Multi-tools come in handy in all situations so it’s never a bad idea to have one—even just to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.

Sewer hose and connection to sewer outlet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set of screwdrivers

Your RV is going to have all different shapes and sizes of screws. If you could pick just one tool to have, it’s a screwdriver. But, you’ll need to make sure you’ve either got a range of screwdrivers or a multi-bit screwdriver to save space. From vehicle-related issues to cosmetic things like decorating or adjusting your finishings, a range of screwdrivers will come in handy.

Silicone spray lubricant

Silicone spray stops squeaks but does not attract dirt.

Channellocks

These will come in handy if you ever find yourself having to change the hitch ball on your tow hitch. In combination with the right socket wrench set, they can also help you make adjustments to other hitch equipment that needs to be tightened to the right specs for safe towing.

Hex Key Allen wrench set

Hexagonal screws are used in all sorts of products including tables and bicycles. To loosen or tighten these screws, you’ll need a special type of wrench called an Allen wrench or hex wrench. These wrenches usually come in a set with several sizes and feature different arm lengths, end types, and storage cases.

Crescent adjustable wrench

No matter how many wrench sizes you already have, an adjustable wrench is a must. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to find the perfect wrench size for the nut you’re trying to loosen. This is where your adjustable wrench will keep you from damaging the nut or bolt and putting yourself in an even deeper hole.

Electric Management System including surge protection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

LED flashlights

Flashlights aren’t just great for taking on night hikes but also for peering into your RV’s dark spaces. This tool can provide light when working in cabinets or under your rig. Have one designated to your tools and several others in the different location in the interior of your rig as well as your tow/tow vehicle. Many people like LED headlamps or magnetic LED lights to keep their hands free to work. Naturally, you’ll want a pack of batteries, too.

Assorted fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel with a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

Tire pressure gauge

Having a tire pressure gauge is a huge must. Checking tire pressures before each travel day should be an RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. Be sure to carry a heavy duty tire gauge that works for 120 psi or higher.

Ladder

If you have an especially tall rig, consider a telescoping ladder so it can be easily tucked away. From sorting out issues with your awning to cleaning debris off the roof or checking for issues, it’s never a mistake to have a way to get up high safely.

All the tape

As is the case with any tool kit, you’ve got to have duct tape. From temporarily fixing leaks and other on-the-go repairs, you’ll be so happy you have it. On top of that, you’ll want to pack Rhino tape and electrical tape so you can deal with any issues that arise. Tape could be your best friend in a pinch, so you can never have too many options in your back pocket.

Zip ties

In the same vein, you might find yourself in a pinch and in need of an easy and creative fix. Especially when it comes to RV travel, you want to be sure everything is secured in place. Zip ties (and tape) are some of the best things to keep on hand.

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tape measure

Self-explanatory! We use ours endlessly. You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25-foot tape measure should be more than long enough for most situations. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches.

Bungee cords

There’s a laundry list of applications for which bungee cords will help you: keeping water containers upright in your truck bed, securing heavy tools so they don’t slide around, securing cupboard doors, expanding your carrying capacity by allowing you to strap camping gear to your roof rack. I recommend having a variety of different lengths and thicknesses so that you have the right bungee cord for the job.

First aid kit

No one should leave home without a first aid kit especially when they’re going on an extended adventure. This is why first aid kits are a necessity in every RV. First aid kits include the essentials such as bandaids, antiseptic wipes, gloves, swabs, scissors, iodine pads, and an emergency blanket. Some first aid kits come with a first aid guide.

Reversible mat

Much of the RV experience is spent relaxing outside the rig, perhaps under an awning but certainly on the ground alongside the RV. A mat which can be used to provide some underfoot protection goes a long way toward making the experience that much more comfortable.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility knife

A utility knife is a fantastic tool to have in your tool kit. It cuts with a removable razor blade, so the edge is both incredibly sharp and very disposable. That means this type of knife is ideal for all of the grunt-work cutting jobs that are too difficult for scissors and too dulling and damaging for a nice pocket knife.

Pliars

Any good set of pliers will do but you’ll definitely need them in your RV tool kit. Needle nose pliers are perfect for harder-to-reach applications and great for precisely pinching connectors when finishing electrical repairs.

Vice grips

Another variation of pliers, locking vise grips allow you to maintain a better grip without constantly squeezing with your maximum strength. They’re also useful for holding things in place temporarily.

Hammer

A claw hammer is always good tool to have available. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose, or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure regulator

Since water pressures vary depending on where you’re camping, a pressure regulator is a small but vital addition to your RV tool kit for protecting your RV water system.

Folding step stool

Whether you’re 5 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 2 inches, a step stool is a handy accessory to have in your RV. They help you reach higher storage areas and can provide an extra step up into your rig.

Camp chairs

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere but it’s a little hard to do that if you don’t have anything to sit on. Folding camp chairs are compact, comfortable, easily stored. 

Hammock

Not really a tool but hammocks bring some comfiness to the outdoor space. When you arrive at that epic campsite you can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Jack pads © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s in Your RV Tool Kit? 

As you can see, there are many tools that you’ll find helpful in your RV tool kit. Most don’t take up much room but you’ll be glad you have them. Having the appropriate tools can help reduce anxiety and stress, especially in emergencies. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend RVer, a snowbird, or a full-timer, carrying an RV tool kit is important. But you don’t need to break the bank for the basics. Many of the tools and items noted in this article may be things you have on hand. If you keep them together in a versatile tool kit, you can move them into the RV whenever you travel. Or better yet—simply reach for your RV tool kit when you need to do a project at home.

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

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

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

23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit

This list of 23 emergency preparedness items that every RV must have will make sure that you’re set up for success on the road

Anyone who takes a road trip of any distance or duration should be prepared for potential roadside emergencies. But, RVers who tend to travel roads unknown with some frequency while carrying heavy loads in their home-on-wheels need to be well prepared for unexpected events that can occur based on weather, tire blow-outs, and other breakdowns. And they can (and often do!) happen in the most remote areas. This is why having an RV roadside emergency kit is so important.

In today’s post, I’m giving you 23 ideas of things to carry in your RV roadside emergency kit.

A well-equipped roadside emergency kit can save a call for roadside assistance © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What do I mean by RV Roadside Emergency Kit?

To me, an RV roadside emergency kit contains items that one might find a use for in the event of a roadside emergency. The emergency could be anything that leaves you stranded on the side of the road (or anywhere, really) such as a tire blow-out, a mechanical breakdown, a weather event, mudslide, fire, illness—anything that impedes your ability to continue traveling down the road to your destination.

Is a fully stocked roadside emergency kit on board? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are some of the most important things to have in an RV Roadside Emergency Kit?

I’ll preface my list of 23 items by saying that this list is likely to contain numerous items that you already carry in your RV when you travel. That’s great—if you’ve already have the item onboard, check it off your list! You’ll have it when you need it.

However, if you don’t, give some serious thought to whether or not you feel the item belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit.

This list doesn’t cover all potential situations but it’s a list of 23 items that I feel are important to have for emergencies.

1. Road reflectors

A good set of road reflectors is an inexpensive but very important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit. Reflectors are designed to make sure you’re seen along the side of the road before someone is on top of you.

Set your road reflectors a distance ahead of and behind your rig to give oncoming traffic advance warning of your presence. You’re already having a bad day—don’t make it worse!

2. Tools

A basic tool kit is important for every RVer to carry. Your tool kit is likely to already contain the tools that you find most useful and like the rest of us, you probably add to that tool kit from time to time as you complete new repairs and projects. If you’ve been looking to compile your tool kit, you’ll find some ideas in my post, The RV Tool Kit Every RVer Needs

However, the  bare minimum that should be in every RV roadside emergency kit (and every vehicle, for that matter) is a good, durable multi-tool with some basic tools.

What’s in your roadside assistance kit?© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. First-aid kit

You can create your own first-aid kit or buy a pre-made kit but having a first-aid kit on board your RV is an absolute MUST.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

4. Work gloves

A strong pair of work gloves is an important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit to help protect your hands during any emergency mechanical work or tire changing, etc. The last thing anyone needs when they’re stranded roadside is an injury that makes the emergency even more urgent!

A quality pair of work gloves with a good grip will serve you in an endless array of circumstances.

You’ll drive with confidence having a roadside emergency kit on board © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. ​​Spare fuses

A variety of extra fuses that can replace any that have burned out in your RV is an important part of an RV roadside emergency kit.

Depending on which fuse is blown, you could be disabled in some fashion. Being able to replace a blown fuse right there on the spot can be the difference between a very minor headache and a migraine.

6. Air compressor

An air compressor that you can use wherever you are is a fantastic item for any roadside emergency kit.

7. Slime

Also in the tire emergency category, a couple of cans of Slime can repair a punctured tire long enough to get you to a service station where you can deal with the issue.

There are also tire repair kits available but the Slime is more user-friendly and gets the job done.

I don’t recommend using Slime every time your tire goes flat but if you don’t have a roadside assistance plan or you’re so far out in the boonies that they won’t come to help you, the Slime will get you rolling to someplace you can get a more permanent fix.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Flashlights and headlamps

Chances are good that you’ve already got some good quality flashlights and headlamps onboard the rig but they’re extremely important so we’re including them on this list.

A good flashlight is handy if you’re stranded on a dark roadside, if you need to walk any distance in the dark, and for any work you may try to do on the rig yourself in the dark or in other poor lighting conditions.

Headlamps are fantastic flashlights that leave your hands free for working or carrying items. You’d be amazed at the number of times you’ll pull out a good headlamp when doing a repair or a DIY project.

So…flashlights…whether they’re in your hands or on your head—these are important items for your RV roadside emergency kit!

9. Portable power bank

Having a portable power bank that’s always charged and ready to go is an important asset to any roadside emergency kit.

A fully charged portable battery bank ensures that if your phone runs out of juice, you’ve got a handy way to power it whether you’re walking a distance for help or you have no power available for some other reason.

It’s also important to note that many smartphones/cell phones lose power in the cold. So, if you’re walking in cold weather and are trying to get help using your phone, it can go dead much faster than you’d expect and it won’t reboot until it warms up. This won’t happen if it’s connected to a portable power bank.

10. Jumper cables

No one likes having to jump-start a battery but the day will probably come when you have to. Aside from having the best RV battery under your hood, make sure that you have a set of decent jumper cables. You don’t want to be that person who asks someone for a jump and if they have jumper cables.

Don’t be caught without this inexpensive essential.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Jump start

You may carry jumper cables in your rig’s basement but a battery jump-start box can get you out of trouble even if you’re in some very tight quarters or if there’s no one around with a vehicle capable of giving you a jump.

These compact boxes usually have an integrated flashlight so you can see to connect it properly and they do an amazing job of jumping even the biggest rigs. They’re also great for charging devices and usually have a USB port or two handy for just this purpose.

12. Reflective vest

If you have to walk in the dark or you’re broken down in traffic and you need to alert oncoming vehicles (by laying out your reflective triangles noted above!) or if you need to direct traffic around an accident, you’ll want to have a reflective vest.

A package of two for two travelers is a great idea so that you’re both equipped to be seen, day or night.

13. Fire extinguishers

This one needs no explanation. If you don’t already have at least one fire extinguisher in your RV, get one TODAY. Depending on the size of your rig, you may want to keep one accessible at the front and a second at the rear or one inside the rig and one in a bay, accessible from the outside.

Fire extinguishers come in various sizes, including small cans without hoses. No matter what, you need to carry a good quality fire extinguisher in your rig because you never know when you’ll need to extinguish a blaze quickly whether in your galley kitchen or during a roadside emergency.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Safety hammer

Safety hammers allow us to break a window in the event of certain emergency situations. You could use the hammer to break out a window of your own rig in an emergency or to get to someone else who’s been involved in an accident you encounter in your travels.

This safety/emergency hammer has an integrated knife for cutting a seat belt off of someone who needs extrication from the belt to escape the vehicle.

15. Air horn

Air horns are often overlooked as an emergency kit item but they can be extremely helpful in an emergency situation. Not only would an air horn allow you to call attention to yourself if you need help, but if you’ve had an accident that has left your rig precariously positioned in the roadway and you need to alert oncoming traffic, an air horn can be just the item you need while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

16. Electrical tape

There are many uses for electrical tape. But, one example is your rig breaking down on the side of the road, leaving you stranded. You pop the hood and look around, and find that a rodent has apparently set up shop in your engine compartment at some point and has chewed on some wires that are deliciously encased. You use your electrical tape to wrap a section of wire (if you’re lucky), start up the rig, and drive it to the nearest service station.

There are a lot of reasons why electrical tape belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit. Toss some in there today.

17. Collapsible shovel

If your rig gets stuck in sand, mud, or snow, having a small shovel on board can be very helpful.

The ability to dig your self out of a sticky situation is important. A small shovel—especially one that’s collapsible for compact storage—is a great thing to have on hand. (And if you happen to have something like kitty litter on board, don’t be afraid to use that for traction!)

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Antihistamine

If you’ve got severe allergies to ANYTHING (nuts, bees, etc.), you should be carrying a prescription epinephrine pen (or Epipen) in your emergency kit.

Even if you don’t have severe allergies, EVERY emergency kit should contain Benadryl or the generic form of diphenhydramine in case anyone on board the RV has an allergic reaction to something.

This antihistamine is inexpensive and everyone should have some on hand because severe allergic reactions can’t wait for a trip to a store (if you can find one open) and if the reaction occurs when your RV is broken down on the side of the road, you’ll have no way to obtain the simple drug that could be the difference between life and death. Always carry antihistamine.

19. Emergency food and water

All roadside emergency kits should contain extra food and water—just in case. You can keep a few gallons of emergency water onboard your RV (accessible from the outside if possible) and you should also have some non-perishable foods on hand.

Specific foods are a matter of personal preference but they should be nutrient-dense and able to be stored in the vehicle or RV even in heat/cold. Store them in a solid container that isn’t accessible to rodents!

Many people keep high-protein bars, organic jerky, or a certain amount of freeze-dried foods onboard at all times.

20. Wheel chocks

If you get stuck or become involved in an accident, your RV may be perilously positioned on an incline or a decline. In an emergency, wheel chocks can be an important part of your kit.

You most likely have some wheel chocks for the purpose of leveling your RV, but if you don’t, a set of these are highly advisable and could be very useful in an emergency.

Ice scraper and snow brush for snowy conditions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Ice scraper/snow brush

“But we don’t travel where it’s icy or snowy.” We’ve heard that one before! An RV emergency kit means being prepared and a combination snow brush and ice scraper is a good thing to have.

22. Tire pressure gauge

Checking tire pressures before a trip is one of my RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. If you have large RV tires, your tire pressure could be well over 100 psi.

If you have the room, consider buying an air compressor. These can be invaluable if you have tires with high PSI ratings that most gas station pumps won’t work on and for those who like to take their campers off-the-beaten path, the ability to air down and then air your tires backup can be a game changer.

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

23. Duct tape

Duct tape, gorilla tape, Rhino tape, gaff tape…it doesn’t matter. Just have a strong tape onboard!

I’ve seen Duct tape used to fix just about everything. I also carry Rhino tape.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts