Monitoring the condition, air-pressure, and proper storage of your RV’s tires (and knowing when to replace them) should be the first priority of any maintenance schedule. Paying close attention to your tires may sound like a dull & boring chore, but it’s much preferable to a blow-out at sixty-five mph in the middle of nowhere! A failed tire at highway cruising speed can do thousands of dollars of damage to the undercarriage of your RV, potentially cause a fire and lead to a serious accident as well.
One major difference in the life-cycle of an RV tire versus those on a car or truck is that many RV’s are used infrequently, and are likely in storage the remainder of the year. When tires of any kind sit idle, they age more quickly. It may sound counter-intuitive, but tires are better protected from developing flat spots, surface cracks and drying out with regular usage. If your RV must be stored, it’s advisable to use tire covers. Do your best to take the weight of the vehicle off the tires by using an RV jack system. There are also blocks available that are designed to reduce contact with the ground and potential water absorption.
When purchasing a pre-owned RV, its important to look at the tire tread depth and tread wear distribution like you would on a regular vehicle, but also the degree of surface cracking indicative of long-term storage. Additionally, there is the DOT (Department of Transportation) code on the tire that will indicate when the tire was manufactured. Tires can be as much as one year older than the RV itself. The bottom line is that a tire can appear “new”, but NOT be roadworthy.
RV tires ought to replaced no longer than every 7 years if the tires have been regularly used, and 5 if the vehicle sits idle for part of the year. It is also advisable to purchase a tire monitoring system. After ensuring that the tires are filled to the proper tire cold pressure based on your RV’s weight, a sensor attached to the tire will wirelessly monitor its status to a remote unit on the dashboard. If the pressure drops below 12 percent of the total pressure, an alarm will sound before the tire can fail.
These precautions may seem unnecessary, but the amount of hassle, grief and money saved by avoiding even one RV tire failure ensures piece of mind, and hopefully an enjoyable road-trip!