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Some RV owners may question whether RV tire covers are worth using. You may not even think about using RV tire covers until you see someone else in the campground putting them on. During our 18+ years of full-time RVing, we’ve used our RV tire covers as often as possible, and our tires have benefitted immensely… along with our pocketbook.
Here are the top four reasons why we think RV tire covers are so important. And be sure to keep reading… at the end of the post, we’ll tell you about the AWESOME new tire covers we’re using now. We even created a video about how well they work, why we love them so much, and how you can get some for your own RV.
The 4 Reasons We Recommend RV Tire Covers
We all want to extend the lives of our RV tires, especially because good tires are an investment. Depending on the size of your RV, you’ll spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars replacing your tires, so protecting them and extending their lifespan is important.
(1) UV Protection
Ultraviolet light, or UV for short, degrades the rubber of your RV’s tires. And of course, direct sunlight is the source of huge amounts of UV. Repeated UV exposure over time can cause tires to crack and split, making them unsafe to drive on, even when they’re not that old, and with plenty of tread left.
RV tire covers protect your tires from this harmful UV exposure, keeping you safer and lengthening the lifespan of the tires.
We advise putting on RV tire covers when you reach your camping destination and anytime your RV is stored outside. The more you keep your tires covered, the less UV exposure they’ll get… and the longer they’ll last.
If your RV has a spare tire, don’t forget to keep it covered, too. You don’t want to change a flat tire for one that’s been degraded by sitting out in the sun, unprotected, for years. This is unsafe and could make an already stressful situation even worse.
(2) RV Tire Covers Protect Against The Elements
In addition to the damaging effects of exposure to UV, there are plenty of other environmental factors that can damage your tires. Heat. Cold. Rain. Ice. Snow. RV tire covers protect your tires from weather extremes, especially when your RV is stored outside.
But it’s not just the tires that need protection from these conditions. Your RV’s wheels (including the wheel hub and bearings) can be damaged by long-term exposure to the elements. So using an RV tire cover helps to keep them protected, too.
Our tires can look a bit grubby after trips through rain, snow, and mud on our way to our favorite boondocking spots. Tire covers camouflage this dirt and grime until you can clean your tires, especially in RV parks where they don’t allow you to wash your rig.
And once your rig has been washed, RV tire covers help to keep your tires clean, especially if you wash the covers themselves at the same time you wash your RV!
(4) Return on Investment
Because RV tires can be expensive to replace, we want to get our money’s worth out of them and we’re sure you do too. It makes sense to use RV tire covers as part of your tire maintenance routine because they add one more element of protection in extending the life of your tires. Extended tire life equals fewer tire purchases.
We don’t know of anyone who wants to spend money on tires sooner than necessary. Besides, budgeting for replacement tires isn’t fun. We would all prefer to spend that money on travel and experiences.
How to Choose RV Tire Covers
RV tire covers come in multiple sizes, colors, and materials. It’s important to choose what best fits your style and budget. Let’s break down your options.
The most common colors are white, black, and grey. There are pros to each one, but for the most part, you can choose a color to match your RV.
We haven’t conducted a scientific study to confirm/deny this, but white or lighter colors should reflect more light and, theoretically, keep your tires cooler than a darker color. But that difference is most likely a negligible factor compared to the reduction in temperature ANY color tire cover provides by preventing direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Regardless of the color of the tire cover, manufacturers add a coating of UV blocker to the material they use to make their tire covers, ensuring that your tires’ rubber is protected from unnecessary exposure.
The materials most commonly used for RV tire covers include vinyl, canvas, and aluminum.
Vinyl tire covers come in many colors and are coated to protect against UV rays, mildew stains, dirt, and rust. The inside of the cover is usually a flocked, flannel-like material to protect your tires and wheels from scuffs and scratches. There are even companies that will print or paint a custom picture or saying on your vinyl tire cover. Because vinyl is waterproof, it’s the recommended choice if you store your RV in wet climates.
Canvas tire covers are thinner than vinyl and don’t have a backing on them. The softer material means they won’t scratch your tires or wheels. They will, however, still protect from dirt and the sun’s rays. Because canvas isn’t waterproof, only choose this material if you store your RV (or plan to use your tire covers) in a dry climate.
Aluminum tire covers are typically intended to cover a spare tire, not as an everyday RV tire cover. They have a durable aluminum material for the outside of the cover and a soft inner layer that sits against the tires and wheels. They’re waterproof and are useful in all climates, especially where temperatures get well below freezing for extended periods, a condition that could crack a vinyl tire cover.
Ease of Installation
RV tire covers are generally easy to install. Most of them are designed to slip over your tires from the outside. With a couple of tugs here and there, they fit snugly if they’re the right size for your tires.
Tire cover manufacturers include multiple options for keeping covers in place. Some attach straps or a drawstring to the cover for you to tighten around your tire. Elastic or wire springs sewn into the hem are other methods used to keep the covers in place. Sometimes there’s a combination of the above items for an extra secure tire cover.
How to Measure for RV Tire Covers
You can calculate a rough estimate of the diameter of your tires by using the information in your tire size (usually written as something like 295/80R22.5) or by using an online calculator. But, honestly, the easiest way to measure for RV tire covers is to simply measure from tread to tread, across the center of the wheel.
Just remember… because the covers have to reach around the entire tire, you want the diameter of the tire, not just the size of your wheel.
What About Our Old RV Tire Covers?
The covers we used for many years (and which many people have asked us about when they’ve appeared in our videos) we ordered for our Mountain Aire when we bought it in 2005. Unfortunately, the company that made them discontinued them many years ago, so we’ve never had a good recommendation for those who’ve inquired. And as our set continued to age, we struggled to find replacements… until this past year.
There were several things we liked about our old tire covers:
- First off, they looked very good. The way they mounted inside the wheel wells and completely covered the entire area was unique… and caught a lot of people’s attention. We were asked about them all the time!
- They didn’t require reaching behind the (often dirty) tires to install… a bead sewn into the outer edge of each cover slides into a plastic track that’s mounted permanently into the inside lip of each wheel well. Putting the covers in place was done by sliding the fabric into that track, and then sliding a steel bar into a sleeve at the bottom of the cover, to hold it down.
- They were also height-adjustable (to a point… read on).
But while the “Wow!” factor of them was neat, they weren’t perfect. Remember the old SNL line “It’s better to look good than to feel good” from Billy Crystal’s character, Fernando? We don’t subscribe to that form-over-function attitude. And, having lived with those covers for 16 years, we know all the things about them that we don’t like.
- They were expensive! Because they were designed to be custom-fit to the wheel wells of our RV, they weren’t cheap to make… or buy. We really splurged on them when we bought our rig (as proud new owners, we really wanted it to look its best).
- They take up a fair amount of storage space when not in use… something that’s at a premium if you full-time. They require the use of a metal bar that’s inserted into the bottom of each cover once it’s installed, to weigh them down. But those bars were long (especially for the rear wheels) and had to be stored, too.
- Because the fabric was mounted to the body of the RV, when in an off-level site that required one side/end to be jacked up fairly high off the ground, the bottom of the tire was left exposed to the sun.
- Putting the covers in place (especially on the rear wheels, with the long metal bars for our tag axle RV) was more involved than standard tire covers. That meant we didn’t use them as often as we should when parking for shorter stays.
What RV Tire Covers Are We Using Today?
So, even if our old covers were still being made today, we wouldn’t buy a new set to replace them.
But for the longest time, we just limped along with what we already had, even though they were incredibly long in the tooth (tears, shrinkage, cracked/broken wheel-well tracks, etc). That’s because all of the replacements we could find required a fair amount of reaching around behind the tire to get them securely installed.
As clean as we tend to keep our RV, the tires are often dirty (or wet… or both), so having to secure a bungee cord or elastic strap around them to keep a cover in place just wasn’t what we wanted. And taking good care of our RV tires is just so important!
Then a viewer told us about SnapRing TireSavers by Covercraft. You can watch the embedded video above for more information (and to see these covers being installed/removed). We really love these new covers because:
- The metal ring sewn into the hem of the cover makes them SUPER easy to install… without having to reach behind the tire. Simply grab the edges of the ring and pull it open, angle the top of the cover over the top of the tire, and let the ring snap closed around the back to secure everything in place.
- They have an extra length of fabric at the bottom to ensure the whole tire remains protected, even if one side/end of the RV is jacked up.
- The fabric is durable, but soft and flexible, making them easy to put on, take off, and fold up for storage.
- They’re reasonably priced. Our old covers were expensive… and, to be honest, not worth the price in the end.
SnapRing TireSavers are sold in pairs, are available in several different sizes (to properly fit your RV’s tires), and come in your choice of white or black. They’re sporadically available on Amazon, but your best bet is to buy them at Camping World. Although their website currently indicates there’s a bit of a delay in shipping, their pricing is the best we’ve seen anywhere, even beating the manufacturer themselves! If you’re a Good Sam member, you can save even more.
The reason to invest a relatively small amount of money in tire covers is to protect your tires from UV light, extreme weather, and grime, ultimately preventing you from having to make a larger investment in new tires, while keeping you safer on the road. And SnapRing TireSavers make that job as easy as possible, so you won’t have any excuse not to keep your tires covered!
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.