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There’s a lot to an RV. It’s a house-on-wheels, after all. It has a plumbing system, an electrical system, even an HVAC system. But, when you get right down to brass tacks as they say, there’s nothing on your RV more important than your tires. With an RV, not only does your home sit on your tires, but those tires are responsible for rolling your little home down the road – sometimes at highway speeds! That’s a lot of responsibility! So, we’re dedicating today’s post to tire safety tips – how to keep your RV tires in the best shape possible, to avoid blowouts and other catastrophes (including having to replace those expensive tires).
Let’s get rollin’…
- 1) How Do I Protect My RV Tires?
- 2) What Should I Park My RV Tires On?
- 3) Why Do You Cover Tires on an RV?
- 4) How Do You Keep RV Tires From Dry Rotting?
- 5) How Do You Avoid RV Tire Blowouts?
- 6) How Do I Monitor My RV Tire Pressures?
- 7) How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Tires?
- 8) Geek Out With Us
How Do I Protect My RV Tires?
We start this post with tips on how to protect your RV tires, because the better you care for your tires right from the get-go, the longer they’ll last and the better THEY will be able to protect YOU.
You can do a number of things to protect your tires starting with keeping them properly inflated. Your RV tires – and your RV’s manufacturer – have clear information on the proper inflation of your tires. Understanding that information and either committing it to memory or making a note somewhere is very important, because every time you set out on a big drive, a short trip, or even a weekend excursion, checking your tires for proper inflation is essential, and one of the most important tire safety tips.
To do this, you can use a standard tire gauge or a fancy one – or even a middle-of-the-road digital tire gauge – but you have to check the tires regularly. Tires naturally lose some air (even just sitting in your driveway), and you don’t want to be driving on underinflated tires! (More on that later.)
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Accurate tire pressures should be taken when the tires are cold (meaning they haven’t been driven on and weren’t exposed to the sun for very long, or at all). It’s possible that you think you’re measuring cold RV tire pressure when your tires aren’t actually cold. For more information, please see our post, “Are Your ‘Cold’ Tire Pressure Readings Really COLD?!? Don’t Be So Sure!”
To keep your tires adequately inflated, having a portable air compressor is absolutely invaluable. Remember – you can’t just roll into any gas station and inflate tires to 80psi or more. You’re likely rolling on tires that require more inflation than the standard gas station compressor can provide. Investing in your own portable air compressor is not only a great tire safety tip but it’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself and one of the best ways to take care of your tires.
We love Viair products, so be sure to look through all of their air compressors and perhaps there’s one that will supply what you need and also fit into your budget. For more on our favorite Viair air compressor see our post, “Which Is the Best Air Compressor for You?”
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In addition to proper tire inflation, a professional alignment and balance every so often (which also allows a professional time to inspect your tires), and tire covers are great ways to protect your tires.
Regular monitoring of your tires is a very important tire safety tip, (and the best way to avoid a blowout!). We’ll get more into the weeds of that shortly.
Finally, be sure not to overload your vehicles. Your tires are sized based on the specs and load-carrying capacity of your rig. Overloading the rig puts extra stress on your tires, and at that point all bets are off.
As we move through this article, you’ll see lots of additional tire safety tips and details explaining some great ways to care for your RV’s tires – so read on!
What Should I Park My RV Tires On?
To answer this question, we’ll start by saying that you should never park your RV on grass long term. This has less to do with tires (although tires shouldn’t be parked on moist surfaces like grass long-term due to the potential for it to cause dry rot), and more to do with how bad it is for your RV. Parking on grass leaves your rig situated over moisture, and this will inevitably lead to the development of rust. Rust being your rig’s worst enemy, it’s best avoided at all costs. So, let’s take grass off the list of possibilities when talking about where you should park your RV!
So, what should you park your RV’s tires on?
If you’re wondering why dirt isn’t on the list, it’s because dirt, grass, and weeds all contribute to dry rot (and rust on the underside of your RV) due to the moisture. Some people do park on a hard-packed dirt surface with some sort of drainage system involved. But you want to avoid your RV tires sitting in water, and you want to avoid your RV sitting for long periods of time over moist areas.
Gravel is a good option as long as it offers good water drainage and offers your tires a good grip. How hard gravel is on your RV tires also has something to do with the gravel itself – its content and how finely ground it is. Some people who park on gravel surfaces actually have concrete stones or slabs on which their RV tires sit. This protects the tires both from potentially sharp pieces of stone as well as from water.
Asphalt is a nice, firm surface to park on, but the chemicals in asphalt can damage the rubber of your tires, aging them prematurely. If your RV is stored on asphalt for an extended period (longer than 1 month), it’s recommended that you place a barrier between your tires and the asphalt. You can use leveling blocks or other durable materials that can support the weight and keep your tires off the asphalt.
Concrete is the best surface on which to park your RV long-term, since it drains well, doesn’t react with the rubber, and provides solid, level support for your tires.
With all of the above stated, however, you will do yourself a favor if you set your stabilizers/jacks down on some good pads and, if your RV is going to be parked in one place for a while, set the tires on either leveling blocks or pads.
Why Do You Cover Tires on an RV?
UV rays are unkind to your RV tires. If your rig is parked in the sun – which inevitably it will be at times – the damage from UV rays can be substantial, especially over the long-term.
In fact, tire covers protect your tires from all weather elements, not only the sun.
Tire covers protect your tires so significantly that it really impacts the investment you’ve made. And anyone who has ever purchased RV tires knows that they certainly represent a significant investment! So, investing in tire covers is another important RV tire safety tip.
If you’d like to see a more detailed post about why we highly recommend tire covers (and why we love the covers we have for our tires), feel free to check out “4 Reasons We Love RV Tire Covers & Our Awesome New Ones!” That post will tell you everything you need to know, and then some!
Watch Peter install them here!
How Do You Keep RV Tires From Dry Rotting?
Well, tire covers for one thing! Protecting your tires from UV rays helps to prevent dry rot.
However, this RV tire safety tip involves where you park your rig is a factor as well, as noted in the previous section titled “What Should I Park My RV Tires On”. Parking on dirt or grass will leave your RV’s tires exposed to too much moisture… and that moisture will result in your tires developing dry rot (ironic, isn’t it, that MOISTURE causes DRY rot?!?),
We also like to use the following two products to keep our tires in ship-shape condition. And trust us – it’s well worth the effort required to care for your tires because extending their life is a huge cost savings.
The first product is our tire cleaner, and the second product is an excellent UV protectant that helps to prevent fading, cracking, and yes – dry rotting of our RV’s tires.
- Watch dirt and grime dissolve quickly and easily with our color changing foam formula
- Prevents and removes tire browning, tire blossoming, and dry rot
- ULTIMATE PROTECTION – 303 Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against the sun's damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust,...
- NON-GREASY – This restoration product dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your outdoor furniture, spa and...
How Do You Avoid RV Tire Blowouts?
One of the most common reasons for tire blowouts is underinflated tires. Insufficient air pressure will cause a tire to sag and flex to the extent that it’s unable to adequately support the load it’s carrying. That increased flexing also generates an immense amount of heat in the tire’s rubber, contributing to its premature failure. So, the best way to avoid RV tire blowouts is to pay close attention to the proper inflation of your tires.
Two of the things we absolutely would never travel without are our Viair air compressor and our TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system). The TPMS allows us to monitor our RV tire pressures (more on that in just a moment), and the Viair air compressor allows us to keep our tires properly inflated no matter where we are.
If your TPMS doesn’t also monitor the tire temperatures, we recommend using an infrared thermometer similar to this one, especially on long trips. When you stop to take a break, use the thermometer to get a quick read on all of your tire temperatures so you can tell if any of them are showing signs of being excessively hot (due to under inflation, a brake pad/caliper dragging, etc). It’s great peace of mind.
- NOT FOR HUMAN: The thermometer can't measure the internal temperature of an object; Temperature readings from this devices are inanimate objects, the...
- BETTER ACCURACY: 12:1 D:S, lasergrip 1080 can accurately measure targets at greater distances compared to most other IR thermometers; For best...
Another way to prevent tire blowouts is to be sure not to overload your rig. We often read that the most common time for tire blowouts is from May through late August, (sometimes called “blowout season”), because many people tend to overload their rigs and then drive for long durations on very hot roads. Pay attention to the load limits for your RV and tow vehicle! They’re limits for a reason (or many).
And finally, you can avoid tire blowouts by learning how to drive your rig properly, meaning that you’ll avoid hitting curbs, slamming into potholes at full speed, and anything else that can cause damage to your tires resulting in the gradual breakdown and loss of air pressure of a tire (or several).
How Do I Monitor My RV Tire Pressures?
The best way to monitor your RV tire pressures (even while you’re driving) is to install a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
A TPMS places a sensor at each tire, and the sensor constantly monitors the pressure in the tire. As soon as the tire drops below the proper pressure, you’re notified on a screen mounted to your dashboard.
Our TPMS also offers high and low pressure alerts as well as high temperature alerts. These are customizable, and provide constant monitoring and instant alerts.
We feel that no motorhome should be without a TPMS. For more information on our system in particular, as well as general information related to why you need a tire pressure monitoring system, check out our post entitled, “TPMS – What It Is and Why You Need It”.
We’ve had plenty of time and travel to thoroughly test our EezTire 618 TPMS. We absolutely love our tire pressure monitoring system and we wouldn’t travel without it.
- ■ REAL TIME/24x7 SAFETY & HIGH FUEL ECONOMY - EezTire TPMS system by EEZ RV Products is the industry leader in the RV TPMS market since 2005. It...
- ■ ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ALERT SYSTEM - TPMS monitor is motion sensitive and monitors tire pressure and temperature on 6-second intervals continuously....
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Tires?
For vehicles with heavy mileage, tread depth can certainly be an indicator that it’s time to replace your tires. (And tire damage is of course a clear indicator.) But because RVs generally don’t get as much use, they’re more often replaced due to AGE, not mileage.
All tires have various time-frames in which they’re recommended to be replaced. Despite what you might hear or read online, there is no general period of time – like six years (which we’ve often heard).
You need to check the manufacturing (DOT) date on each one of your tires, and then follow the tire manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended number of years they can generally be run. Most RV tires age out at somewhere between 5 and 10 years.
To check the manufacturing date on your RV’s tires, you’ll want to look at the DOT imprint on the sidewall of each tire. The DOT number could be easy to spot on the sidewall facing outward, but if not, you’ll have to crawl under the rig and look at the inside sidewall of each tire. The last four digits of the DOT number indicate the week and year the tire was manufactured. So, for instance, if the last four digits are 1405, that tire was manufactured in the 14th week (that would be mid-April) of 2005.
Have a look at our video for more information on RV tire age, care, and replacement:
Geek Out With Us
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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.