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Why Do RV Tires Blow Out? What Can I Do to Prevent It?

Why Do RV Tires Blow Out? What Can I Do to Prevent It?

Whether you’ve got a motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel, it’s extremely important to understand how to minimize the possibility of a tire blowout and what to do if one should occur. But, why do RV tires blow out?

Tire blowouts are more common on RVs than you may think, and there are a number of reasons why.

Understanding our RV’s tires is one of the most important safety factors in RVing. Yet tires are among the most ignored features on many rigs. Especially if tires are relatively new, the tendency may be to set ’em and forget ’em. Unfortunately for many, this can be a costly mistake.

Luckily, there are many things we can do to minimize the likelihood of experiencing a tire blowout. Critical information for RV owners to know to maintain a safe RV life? We think the topic of tires is so important, we wrote an entire eBook about inflating RV tires correctly (blog subscribers get access to it for free).

Let’s get right into this very important topic.

Are RV Tire Blowouts Common?

RV tire blowouts are more common than blowouts on other types of vehicles.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case, and understanding them is the key to prevention.

Most motor vehicle tire blowouts are caused by underinflation of the tires. When tires aren’t properly inflated, the side of the tire will flex under the stress of driving and this generates excessive heat. It’s that heat that leads to most tire blowouts on the average motor vehicle.

However, there are many additional reasons why RV tires blow out more frequently. Let’s take a look at those reasons, followed by a list of things you can do to prevent your motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel tires from blowing out.

What Are Some Common Causes of Tire Blowouts?

We’ve noted the most common cause of vehicle tire blowouts in general, but when you’re talking about RVs there are other common contributing factors.

So, whether you’ve got a motorhome, 5th wheel, truck camper, or travel trailer of any size, there are several things that can lead to one or more of your tires blowing out as you’re traveling down the highway. It goes without saying that this is an experience we all hope to avoid.

Why Do RV Tires Blow Out? — Cause #1: Improper Tire Pressures

Again, with vehicles in general improper tire pressures are a significant cause of RV tire blowouts.

As we noted above, an underinflated tire can cause the tire to flex under the stress of driving, causing excessive heat to build up. With the additional weight of an RV compared to a car, this is an even more pronounced issue.

There are several things you can do to minimize the likelihood that you’ll have underinflated tires.

A person checking a tire's pressure

Proper tire pressure is key to avoiding RV tire blowouts. Subscribers to our blog get FREE access to our eBook How To Inflate RV Tires Correctly, so if you’re not already a subscriber, sign up today!

First, check your tire pressures before you head out in your RV. You can’t just set and forget your tire pressures. They need to be properly set and then maintained.

Perhaps the easiest way to do this is with a tire pressure monitoring system. For much more information on this very important piece of RVing gear, see our post on RV TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system). We’ll explain what a TPMS is and why it’s so important to have and use one.

Essentially, a TPMS does exactly what its name suggests — it monitors tire pressure. Many also monitor tire temperatures, allowing the system to alert you when tire pressure or temperature are high or low.  Some systems are more elaborate than others, but they’re all designed to let you know when your tire pressures need immediate attention.

After nearly 20 years of full-time RVings, our favorite brand is the EEZ TPMS, and the one we depend on ourselves. You can check out that post to find out why it’s the one we depend on for accurate reporting of our tire pressures. And yes, it does indeed monitor temperature as well. Increasing heat is an early sign of problems on both motorhome and trailer tires, and can be worse in hot weather.

But here’s another thing that’s incredibly important:

Despite the fact that the safety of everyone traveling in your RV is riding on those tires, most RVers don’t have a clear understanding of what their tire pressures should be or how to inflate their tires properly.

It’s not as simple as checking the pressures noted on the tire sidewall, or on a sticker inside a door sill, and then inflating your tires with a compressor.

In fact, we’re continually surprised at how the topic of RV tire inflation is so misunderstood, that we wrote an entire eBook about it. We’re mentioning this again because it is SO important and SO poorly understood by so many RVers. Our book is FREE if you’d like a copy – just click here to subscribe to our informative RVing newsletter and we’ll send you free access to it. (Our newsletters are also free!)

It’s also important to carry a high-quality tire compressor with you, because you can’t just pop into any old gas station and expect to find an air compressor that delivers the 80-120 pounds of pressure many RV tires require.

If you need one of the best air compressors on the market designed specifically for RVers, we invite you to use the discount/promo code RVGEEKS at the following link to save 5% on a Viair 450P-RV air compressor, the same one we use.

SAVE 5%
TechnoRV logo
TechnoRV 5% Discount

TechnoRV.com is a supplier of leading RV technology products that are designed to enhance your RV lifestyle. That includes items like LevelMatePRO, Viair portable air compressors, connectivity...Show More

TechnoRV.com is a supplier of leading RV technology products that are designed to enhance your RV lifestyle. That includes items like LevelMatePRO, Viair portable air compressors, connectivity equipment, and more!

Use the Promo Code "RVGEEKS" to save 5% on your entire order at TechnoRV.

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They’re also available at Amazon:

Sale
VIAIR 450P - 45043 Automatic Function Portable Compressor, Tire Pump, Truck/SUV Tire Inflator, For up to 42 Inch Tires
  • 12 VOLT - 150PSI Max Working Pressure, engine must be running during use.
  • 1.80CFM Free Flow at 0 PSI. Air Hose: 35 feet. Ingress Protection Rating is IP54

Why Do RV Tires Blow Out? — Cause #2: Tire Age and Wear

The integrity of a tire isn’t just about the condition of the tread.  Tire age is a significant factor.

As tires age, they can develop issues that compromise their integrity and weaken them, making them more prone to blowouts.

Many RVs are unused or stored for long periods of time, and tires can develop dry rot.

Tire dry rot is not only a result of aging but also of UV damage as well as exposure to the elements.

But the fact remains that most RV tires have to be replaced due to age long before the tread is worn out. RV tires “age out” before they “wear out” in many cases.

For more information on how often RV tires need to be replaced, how to determine the age of your tires, and how to get the safest use out of them, we encourage you to check out or post on tire safety tips and watch our YouTube video on the topic of RV tire care, age, and replacement.

General Care of Tires

The general care (or lack thereof) of RV tires can also be a contributing factor to RV tire blowouts.

We’ve already discussed proper tire pressures, but there are other ways to care for your RV tires.

Use Tire Covers

The sun’s UV rays are one of the most damaging factors on tire rubber. So they should be covered to protect them from the sun whenever possible.

This is why we love our RV tire covers. A good quality tire cover will help to protect your RV tires from UV rays and other harmful environmental elements.

Our favorite tire covers by far are SnapRing TireSavers. If you need a great set of tire covers to protect your RV tires, you can save 10% simply by shopping through this link and using the code RVGEEKS.

Why are these are favorite tire covers? This video sums it up!

Use a Good Quality Tire Cleaner with UV Protectant

You can further protect your tires by regularly using a high-quality tire cleaner with UV protectant. These products help prevent fading and cracking, while also repelling dust and dirt.

We use the following to extend the life of our tires and help to keep them in optimal condition as we travel.

303 Tire and Rubber Cleaner - Preps Tires for Dressing - Fast Acting Foaming Formula - Removes Tire Browning - Safe for All Rubber and Vinyl, 32 fl. oz. (30579CSR)
  • Watch dirt and grime dissolve quickly and easily with our color changing foam formula
  • Prevents and removes tire browning, tire blossoming, and dry rot
Sale
303 Aerospace Protectant - Provides Superior UV Protection, Helps Prevent Fading and Cracking, Repels Dust, Lint, and Staining, Restores Lost Color and Luster, 16oz (30308CSR)
  • 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...

Check Tire Temperatures

We use a digital temperature gun to keep an eye on the temperatures of our RV tires as we’re traveling.

When you stop for fuel or food, give your tires a quick check. If you spot an abnormal tire temperature, you’ll be alerted to pending trouble before it happens. This is a backup to our TMPS, which also monitors temperature as mentioned above. (Plus there are tons of other uses for this cool gadget around the RV!)

Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 1080, Heat Temperature Temp Gun for Cooking, Laser IR Surface Tool for Pizza Oven, Meat, Griddle, Grill, HVAC, Engine, Accessories, -58°F to 1022°F, Yellow
  • NOT FOR HUMAN: The instant read thermometer can't measure the internal temperature of an object; The readings from it are inanimate objects, and the...
  • BETTER ACCURACY: 12:1 D:S, this temperature gauge can accurately measure targets at greater distances compared to most other thermometers; For best...

Overweight RVs

There’s a maximum weight that your RV (and each of your tires) can handle, so adhering to weight limits is super important.

You may be familiar with GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) which is the maximum weight a vehicle can weigh as it travels down the road.

For motorhomes that tow a car or trailer, GCWR (gross combined weight rating) is important to understand. This is the maximum weight of a vehicle, anything it’s towing, and all passengers and cargo in both the RV and the trailer or towed car.

It’s important that RVers understand the meanings of these weight ratings and know what your RV can handle. Check your owner’s manual or placard behind the driver’s seat for details. Weigh stations and truck stops can provide scales that allow you to check gross vehicle weight.

But, as outlined in our eBook, individual tire weight limits need to be determined using “corner” or “position” weights. The details are too much to go into here, which is why we wrote a whole book about it. We simply can’t stress it enough — get your copy by subscribing to our blog today!

Operator Actions

Finally, our own actions as RV drivers can contribute to tire blowouts.

If you’re wondering how your driving itself can relate to the question “Why do RV tires blow out?” think about the impact of striking the tires against objects. Things like scrubbing curbs with our RV tires, hitting deep potholes at speed, or running over debris in the roadway can all contribute to tire fatigue. Stay alert!

So, when we ask “Why do RV tires blow out?” there are many factors to pay attention to.

Fortunately, most of them are in our control.

RettroBand To The Rescue!

If you haven’t seen the highest-end protection available to prevent the driver of a motorhome from losing control in the event of a blowout, check out the video below! National Indoor RV Centers (NIRVC) founder Brett Davis puts his money (and his life) where his mouth is in this amazing demonstration.

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Gary R. Junker

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

Very good article with a lot of useful information that many may not be familiar with. I have been RVing for a number of years but relatively new to the class A diesel. I do tow a car the majority of time and would like your thoughts on tire failure exposure that one has while towing a vehicle. My thoughts are the exposure is high since the awareness of what's going on with the vehicle is generally limited to the backup camera. If a tire goes down on a towed vehicle will the RV driver know by adverse handling of the RV? Thank you for your dedication to a positive RV experience.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Hi Gary. Chances are, when towing a car behind a Class A Diesel, you wouldn't have any indication of a flat/blow-out on the towed, since the RV barely even notices that there's a car back there at all. That's why we have a TPMS system (it's actually the one we use on the RV tires as well) to monitor the towed car's tires while we're driving. If anything happened like that, the TPMS would alert us.

Ken Hallock

Tuesday 25th of October 2022

Near the beginning of this article, the following claim is made - “Most motor vehicle tire blowouts are caused by underinflation of the tires”.

So I am curious just how it could be known that a tire had been under inflated just prior to failure. I suppose TPS pressure history would be one way but I suspect that data would be rarely available.

I would most appreciate if you could share references to research studies that reached this conclusion.

—Just Very Curious

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

Hi Ken. The article we’ve linked to below is just one of dozens of similar articles we found in our research, where tire manufacturers, insurance companies, and a wide range of related sources cite low tire pressure as the leading cause of blowouts, and the impetus for the mandate that all new cars come equipped with TPMS. If you’d be more comfortable with the verbiage, you can substitute “many” for “most” and still recognize the dangers of low tire pressure at a prime contributor to blowouts due to sidewall flexing and subsequent overheating.

https://www.idrivesafely.com/defensive-driving/trending/how-avoid-tire-blowout-and-what-do-if-it-happens?amp

John S.

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

Good reminder for this topic.

Question: When checking tire TEMPS suring fuel stops what you you usually see? Do you have a 'worry about' temperature or are you more interested in finding one tire much hotter than the others?

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 23rd of October 2022

Hi John. Good question. We're usually looking for a tire that's abnormally different than the others. The actual temps vary pretty dramatically based on outside temp, angle (and intensity) of the sun, and even the amount of crowning on the road (the downhill side tires get hotter as a result of the shift in weight).

Gay RV Enthusiast (Jason)

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

Given how warm (hot!) it gets during the Summer months, I've often wondered how to keep tires from blowing out from the heat.

Mike

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

Great information. Thanks.

My question is about increase in in tire pressure while driving. My tires are rated at 110 PSI cold and I rigorously keep them at that pressure. But when driving -- as the tire gets hotter -- the pressure goes up to 116psi-120psi and the new in-dash monitor sends an alert that the pressure is too high.

I always thought a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in pressure was normal. Could this be a weight issue? Or should the monitor be adjusted?

Thanks

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 23rd of October 2022

Hi Mike. It's 100% normal for the tire pressure to increase as the tires heat up while driving. The tire manufacturers factor that in when they list the "Maximum Cold Tire Inflation Pressure" that's imprinted into the sidewall. It accounts for that increase.

Not sure what manufacturer made the TPMS system that's incorporated into your coach... but our standalone unit from EEZTire recommends that you set the high pressure alert for each axle to 20% above the inflation pressure. So for your 110psi... that would be 110 + (0.2 x 110) = 110 + 22 = 132. You may want to check to see if there's a way to re-program your TPMS... because if it's giving you an alarm at 116-120psi, that's too low (it's alarming at only 10% above inflation pressure).

the1sg

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

@Mike, I had the same concerns and did a bit of research. Bottom line up front; if you know the weight on each tire then you can adjust pressure (for each axle) accordingly to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI: it’s not max PSI. Most of us don’t have access to a per tire measurement, so we guesstimate with axle weight and divide by two (2 tires per axle more if you got more). RV geeks have a great article about this so check that out! As an example my max cold is 65psi. But due to weight on the tire and using the chart I run them at 50 Psi (all cold readings). I know seems counter to what we think. So simply; added weight means added pressure. This also allows flex in the tire going over an object. Too much inflation is like a hard balloon; doesn’t take much pressure to pop. However, less pressure (still need correct amount) allows for some flexing and allows for a bit of a roll over effect like a balloon that’s not fully inflated ( best analogy I can think of). Hope that helps.

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