One of the first things everyone learns in driving school is how to check the tires before hitting the road.
This is especially true, and incredibly important, for anyone embarking on a long road trip. Because an RV is the ultimate road trip vehicle, checking the tires is as important to the vehicle’s maintenance as keeping gas in the tank.
But treating your RV tire the same as you would a standard passenger vehicle is a bad idea. While there are some similarities between your RV tires and those on most other passenger vehicles, there are important differences that will impact just how you go about treating your tires.
Treat your tires right, and they’ll last you a long time as you explore mile after glorious mile. But ignore them, or treat them poorly, and you’ll find yourself stuck on the side of the road after a nasty blowout.
One of the worst things any RV driver can experience is an unexpected blowout, especially at high speeds or while you’re out in no man’s land. Preventing a blowout starts with proper maintenance. There are several things every RV driver should follow that will keep their tires in tip top shape.
Let’s start with tire basics. Regardless of whether you own your RV or you’ve rented one from a trusted source such as RVshare, you should have received some helpful tips on how to treat your RV’s tires.
Most tire companies sell tires that are specific to RVs. The very nature of an RV as a long-distance travel vehicle means that the tires must be a bit more durable and last much longer. Similarly, RVs must also carry heavier loads than most passenger vehicles over those vast distances.
Depending on how often you use your RV and how many miles you cover each year, your tires could last you 10 years, or they could require replacement in under 5 years.
Many RV users do not realize that frequent use ensures longer life for your tires. It may seem counterintuitive, but it has to do with aging. One of the common causes for RV tire blowouts is sidewall cracking. This is when the side of the tire has very visible cracks.
Common causes of sidewall cracking include constant exposure to the sun and air, exposure to ozone (which can come from portable electric generators), and a large amount of washing.
Cracks are a common concern for RVs, although they do not always warrant an immediate need to get a tire change. Check the depth of the cracks, and determine if any of the tire’s internal structure is visible. If you can see steel or fabric inside of the crack, that’s an extremely bad sign! A crack depth of about .15 centimeters means it’s time for a tire change.
Proper storage can help prevent some of these issues. If you plan to have your RV inactive for some time, it’s good to buy covers for the tires. This will help keep them safe from the damaging light and ozone exposure that can cause problems for most RVs.
If you are using a TireMinder tire pressure monitoring system, you should also be mindful of how you are storing it as well. Many parts of the RV are damaged through inactivity, including various parts related to tire management.
If the summer weather has you ready to get rolling, there are additional ways to help prevent a dangerous blowout while you’re out on the open road. Aside from the blowout issues related to worn tires, tire pressure should be a major concern for any RV driver.
Low tire pressure will increase tread wear, which can then lead directly to a blowout. While it is certainly possible to check your tire pressure every time you stop, you will inevitably have long trips where stopping is rare.
Every RV driver should keep a tire pressure gauge handy. Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended PSI level to get the best life out of them. However, tire pressure systems, such as the TireMinder TPMS, are a modern way to keep track of tire pressure.
The TireMinder TPMS includes a wireless transmitter that is attached to the tire, delivering tire pressure information alongside many other important pieces of data related to your tire’s health. The ability to wirelessly monitor different aspects of your tire’s overall condition while driving on the road is certainly a modern solution to preventing RV tire blowouts, and it’s an important one.
Even if everything looks fine on the outside, and the tire pressure is good, the internal status of the tire can be almost impossible to determine. A blowout could happen without warning. Having a good method to monitor tire health and head off any problems before they occur could save you from a giant, dangerous problem.
Most passenger vehicles are now coming with different forms of TPMS installed, and many RVs will have a system installed as well. However, most pre-installed systems only provide pressure level information. Few will give you advanced warnings of a blowout based on the data they are receiving.
There are other areas of concern related to preventing a tire blowout. As with all tires, you will want to pay close attention to the tire’s tread. A completely worn tire is going to be at a high risk of a blowout.
Long hours on the road and thousands of miles covered also increases your risk of running over sharp road hazards such as nails, sharp rocks or glass. While your tire’s tread helps to protect against most of these, a worn tread will leave your tire at a higher risk.
If you have to refill the air in your tire too regularly, you may have objects lodged inside the tire that are causing the tire to deflate. You will want to have your tire checked out by a professional.
Whether you own an RV or you are renting an RV, RVs represent freedom of the road. But don’t let your travel dreams get ruined by a tire blowout.
New tires can be extremely expensive, and you may find yourself miles from the nearest mechanic who may not even have a tire you can use. Good tire management and a few good tools like a TireMinder TPMS will help you cover all those miles worry free!
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