You probably don’t think very much about the synthetic rubber, ring-shaped orbs that carry your RV or motorhome from place to place. That is until one of them no longer does its job properly, and you’re left stranded in your driveway, at a campsite, or out in the middle of nowhere on a deserted road. Or worse, the tire catastrophically fails, shreds the side of your RV and launches your commode into the next town.
As it turns out, maintaining your motorhome or travel trailer tires is pretty important. It does not matter if you are an RV beginner or a full time road warrior, these are tips that every RVer should put to into practice. The good news is that it isn’t too time-consuming or difficult.
Tips to Keep Your RV Tires in Top Shape
It is important to maintain your RV tires in order to ensure a safe and smooth journey. Here are a few tips on how to properly take care of your tires:
Check the Air Pressure in Your RV Tires
It is important to check the air pressure in your RV tires regularly. Properly inflated tires will see longer durability and provide a smoother ride.
You can check the air pressure in your tires with a tire gauge. Most tire gauges are easy to use and read. Simply insert the gauge into the valve stem on your tire and check the reading. For larger RV’s (such as a Class A or Class C) you may need to get a truck tire gauge to get an accurate air inflation pressure reading. The standard tire gauges typically stop at 50 psi and larger RV tires can take up to 100 psi or more. Don’t forget to check your tow vehicle or toad, too!
Some newer camper models may have nitrogen-filled tires. One way you can tell that you might have nitrogen-filled tires if the valve stem has a green dot on the cap. Also, there may be a sticker on the side of your camper that indicates nitrogen-filled tires.
It’s important to know if you have nitrogen-filled tires to continue to take advantage of the benefits of such. If you put air into a nitrogen tire, you will lose the benefits of the nitrogen, however if the tire is low and only air is available, use the air. Correct pressure is more important.
What Are the Benefits of Nitrogen-Filled Tires on my RV?
There are several benefits to having nitrogen-filled tires on your RV.
- Better Pressure – The main benefit is that nitrogen-filled tires hold their pressure better than air-filled tires. This means that you will have to check and add air to your tires less often. Tires filled with air lose about 1.5psi/month and tires filled with nitrogen average the same loss in 3-4 months. This is because nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules and it takes more time for them to permeate the rubber and leak out.
- Run Cooler – Nitrogen-filled tires also run cooler than air-filled tires. This is because compressed air captures the air’s natural humidity and introduces that moisture inside the tire. The water vapor absorbs the heat and retains the heat causing pressure fluctuations and a hotter running tire. Nitrogen does not heat up as quickly and helps maintain consistent tire pressures, especially in extreme temperatures.
- Better fuel Mileage – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that underinflated tires can reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in tire pressure. Less fluctuations and more consistent pressure can aid in better fuel economy.
Overall, nitrogen-filled tires are a good option for RV owners. They require less maintenance and are more resistant to damage from extreme temperatures. If you have nitrogen-filled tires on your camper, it is important to refill them with nitrogen to continue to utilize the benefits. You can do this at most RV dealerships or tire repair shops. Again, if nitrogen filling is not available and your tire is low, fill the tire to the correct pressure with air. Proper pressure is most important. Earths air is approximately 78% nitrogen, so it’s very compatible. The nitrogen fill just omits the oxygen and other atmospheric gases.
Rotate and Balance Your Tires
It is important to rotate and balance your tires regularly. This will help to evenly distribute wear and tear, extend the life of your tires, and improve handling.
Most RV dealerships, auto service centers, or tire repair shops can do this for you.
Rotating and balancing your tires is a simple task, that when done regularly, will aid to extend the life of your tires and improve handling. If you rotate your tires on your own, be sure to use a rated jack and jack stands in case the jack fails. Safety is always the most important. Torque the wheels per the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent damage to the wheel studs or losing a wheel on the road.
Clean Your Camper Tires
It’s important to clean your RV tires regularly. This will help to remove dirt, grime, and debris that can build up over time. If left unchecked, this build-up can damage your tires and shorten their lifespan.
You can clean your tires with a variety of different cleaners. However, it’s important to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for tires. This will help to avoid damage and ensure that your tires are properly cleaned.
How to Clean RV Tires
Most tire cleaners can be applied with a brush or cloth. Once you’ve applied the cleaner, you’ll need to scrub the tire to remove the build-up.
After scrubbing, you’ll need to rinse the tire with water. Once the tire is clean, you can dry it off with a cloth or allow it to air-dry.
Cleaning your RV tires regularly is an important part of maintaining them. By using a specifically designed tire cleaner, you can avoid damage and ensure that your tires are properly cleaned. Some articles claim that tire dressings that contain chemicals (such as alcohol or petroleum) can deteriorate the tires, but we have not found any concrete information to back that up. We recommend using quality cleaners, and dressings, specifically designed for tires.
This will help to extend the life of your tires and keep them looking their best. Also, it makes your camper look nice sitting on the campground!
Inspect Your RV Tires for Damage
It’s important to inspect your recreational vehicle’s tires regularly. This will help you to identify any potential problems early on and take steps to fix them.
When inspecting your tires, you’ll need to look for signs of wear and tear. This can include cracks, bulges, or bald spots to the tire or tread pattern. Any damage to the tire sidewalls will need to be inspected by a tire specialist to ensure safety. Most sidewall damage cannot be fixed and the tire will have to be replaced. Some damage to the tread may be able to be repaired but leave that to the technicians.
Bald spots can also cause your tire to fail. In addition, make sure your tires aren’t showing any signs of dry rot. This is especially important if you haven’t used your travel trailer tires in a while.
Tires that sit a while can also suffer from flat spots. Try to move the camper every few weeks (not more than 30 days) to prevent flat spots. You can buy support cradles for RV tires that hold the tire in a round shape to prevent flat spot damage.
If you notice any of these problems, it’s important to take action immediately. Cracks or bulges can cause your tire to fail and result in a blowout. If on the steering axle of a motorhome, a blowout can lead to catastrophic loss of control, a serious accident or worse.
Cover Your RV Tires
Unless your RV is parked indoors, it’s also a good idea to cover the tires to prevent them from being damaged by the sunlight and other elements. Over time UV light can break down the composition of the rubber and cause cracks in the tire. Water and ozone can also deteriorate the rubber and over time cause it to break down. Use tire covers to keep rain, sleet and snow off your tires. Covering your tires will help slow down this damage and allow your tires last a little bit longer.
Ozone can also be produced from electrical discharge like a spark. Electric motors, electric generator and copy machines can produce ozone indoors. If you store your RV inside, make sure it is kept clear from equipment that can produce ozone.
Replace Your Tires
It’s important to remember that tires do break down. Whether you use them a lot or a little, the rubber will eventually begin to deteriorate, and problems can occur. Most manufacturers recommend you replace your tires, regardless of use, about every 5 years. Some will say up to 10 years, but with frequent comprehensive inspections. While it is a sizeable investment to replace your tires, not replacing them could result in a blowout that causes severe damage to your rig, ruining your trip and causing a bigger burden on your wallet.
How can you tell how old your RV tires are?
It’s easy to tell how old your tires are. Every DOT (Department of Transportation) certified tire will have a series of identifying codes printed on them. The code starts with the letters “DOT”. There are 4 digits at the end of the code. They are your tires’ manufacturing date. The first two digits are the week and the last two are the year. So, for example, if your DOT code ends in “1012” the tires were produced in the 10th week of 2012. If the code is “3020”, they were produced in the 30th week of 2020.
How old is too old?
If your tires are more than 5 years old, be sure to consider replacing them. You can also inspect tires you just purchased to be sure they haven’t been sitting around for years on a shelf slowly deteriorating. Don’t forget to replace your spare tire, too. You want a quality spare tire available in case you end up with a flat. A deteriorated spare may cause more of a headache then it’s worth.
Your RV dealer or local tire shop will be able to help guide your tire purchases to ensure you are getting the right set of RV tires.
It’s important to take care of your RV tires. By following these simple tips, you can extend the life of your tires and keep them in top shape. Remember to check the air pressure in your tires regularly, rotate and balance them regularly, clean them regularly, and inspect them for signs of wear and tear. By taking good care of your RV tires, you can ensure that they’ll last for many miles of happy camping.