Heading out with a recreational vehicle this summer?
Check out the condition of your tires before leaving home… and stay safe!
RV tires are put to a rigorous test during the summer travel season. After many months in storage, RVs are often driven day after day, through extreme heat; the tires supporting heavy loads, often with incorrect tire pressure.
Proper tire maintenance is an important safety function often neglected. The importance of properly maintaining your tires cannot be overemphasized. Remember, tires are the only part of the RV in contact with the road surface. Safety in acceleration, braking, steering, and cornering all rely on the tires’ relatively small contact area with the road surface.
With such an important role, it is essential that tires are properly maintained and regular checks are carried out. With the correct care and attention your tires will help to ensure you arrive safely at your destination, without disruption and with minimal cost.
Regularly inspect the tires. Check for cracks, worn treads, and correct tire pressure.
Drivers also need to ensure they have the right type and size of tires before leaving home. Passenger tires are not adequate for most trailers. While RVs can be equipped with light truck tires, most trailers require special trailer (ST) tires. These tires are built to have stiffer, heavy duty sidewalls to accommodate heavy loads and track straight to reduce bounce and sway problems.
A tire’s ply rating describes the maximum load the manufacturer recommends the tire be used to carry (at a specified pressure). It is imperative that you calculate the correct minimum ply rating suitable for the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your RV, and this should be done by a professional.
Three tips to avoid RV tire blowouts this summer:
1. Check tires for signs of tread wear or damage
Check the sidewall and tread blocks for damage. Inspect the sidewalls, tread, valves, and caps for nails and other objects, cuts and bulges, and signs of cracking and weathering.
Ensure this is done prior to starting the road trip, and keep a regular check on tires during the trip.
2. Maintain proper tire inflation
The most important aspect of tire maintenance is proper tire inflation. Correct tire pressure is vital to your safety on the road. Under-inflated tires are more prone to damage and failure. They also affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior. Under-inflated tires are also much more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially at high speeds on an Interstate.
By keeping your tires at their optimum pressure, your travel costs are also reduced. Since under-inflated tires require a bigger force to make them turn, your vehicle uses more fuel.
Additionally, tires which are not set to their correct pressure wear out faster.
Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure. Your tires can be as much as 50 percent under inflated before it is visibly noticeable.
Tires can lose one psi (pounds per square inch) per month under normal conditions.
Using either the Michelin or Goodyear tire care guide (available online), determine the weight on each wheel position for your coach. Then, adjust the pressure in each tire according to the heaviest side of each axle—but ONLY when tires are “cool” (have not been driven for even one mile).
3. Never overload your RV
Maintain an even load and never exceed Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Over-loading your RV can lead to poor handling, braking, fuel economy, and tread wear. But it can also lead to extra heat generation in the tires – which can cause tire failure.
Exceeding the GVWR is one of the leading causes of RV tire failure.
Speed was high
Weather was hot
Tires were thin
X marks the spot