I talk about this all the time: tire safety is such an important topic concerning RVs and is often overlooked. When a tire fails it can be extremely dangerous and it can cause extensive damage. There are lots of reasons for tire failure, such as under-inflation, overloading, the condition of the tires and the age of the tires. 

Tires are designed and built to be used. The rubber used in tires ages faster when tires are not used. The problem is lots of RVs do not get used that often. When tires are manufactured compounds are added to help protect the rubber from weather cracking and ozone damage. But the tire needs to be rolling down the road, heating up and flexing for these compounds to work to the surface and protect the rubber from damage. There are no guarantees, but good tire maintenance will help keep you safer when you are out exploring in your RV. Here are tips to help keep your tires in good shape.

Storage Issues

When tires sit in storage, they start to dry out and age faster. This happens to tires routinely exposed to heat and sunlight. It is not uncommon to see RV tires with low mileage and plenty of tread ruined by the damaging effects of ozone and UV rays. You need to inspect your RV tires for weather checking or cracks in the sidewalls before each trip. Immediately replace any tire that has a crack in the sidewall more than 2/32 inch deep. If you notice damage, but you are not sure what the extent of the damage is, have the tires inspected by a tire professional before using the RV.  

Protect Your Tires

To protect the tires from damage, keep them covered to block out the sunlight when you are not using your RV. Place some type of blocking between the ground and the tires that is larger than the footprint of the tire. No portion of the tire should hang over the edge of the tire blocking. This can cause internal damage to the tire.

Don’t Overload

We have a natural tendency to fill every nook and cranny of available storage space in our RV. The tires are the most vulnerable component affected by overloading the RV. Only pack what is essential for your camping trip. If you are not dry camping, only take enough potable water to get to your camping destination. A friend once told me, if there is something in your RV you have not used in the last six months you probably don’t need it. 

Get A Quality Gauge & Use It

Do not use one of those cheap pencil type gauges! The only way to correctly measure the inflation pressure in your tires is with a quality tire inflation gauge. Check the tire pressure before traveling each day and always when the tires are cold. The manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure is based on the trailer’s designed load limits. This inflation pressure is accurate if no additional weight is placed on tires. The number molded into the sidewall of the tire is the maximum amount of air pressure you can ever inflate the tire to if a full load was placed on the tires. Never set the inflation pressures below the recommendations you find on the vehicle manufacturer’s placard and never exceed the maximum inflation pressure ratings found on the tire’s sidewall. Effective gauges cost around $20. Those with a built in inflator run around $35.

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems:

It’s extremely important to monitor not only the tire pressure but the temperature too. Here are two of my favorite tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). The investment you make in one of these could save you thousands, and possibly your life. A tire blow out can be very dangerous.

The Tire Linc® by Lippert™. Monitor your tire pressure and temperature directly from your phone with the OneControl® app. It also notifies you when your tires inflate, deflate, or in the case of a blowout. LippertComponents.com

Truck System Technologies’ TPMS Display (TST). Designed to commercial vehicle standards, this system transmits wireless, real-time tire temperature and pressure readings directly to a wide-screen color display on your dashboard. TSTtruck.com

This article on Summer Tire Safety by Mark Polk was originally published in Girl Camper Magazine.

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