by Kris and Andy Murphy
Your tires are what get you from point A to point B. Even just one low-pressure tire can interrupt your trip plans. Most RVers make two mistakes with their tires: not filling them at the proper air pressure and not checking them often enough for issues. These two things can lead to a blowout, which at best will derail a travel day and cause a delay. Worse, if a main-drive tire blows out, it can cause serious damage and even loss of steering, which can result in a major accident.
Monitor Your Tires While Driving
The easiest way to avoid a blowout is to install a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). These systems work on all tire types and alert you if the tire pressure falls below a set threshold or if the temperature gets too high. These units are easy to use and install. A TPMS will keep you safe on the road and help you maintain proper tire inflation to avoid a blowout.
Each tire should be set to the proper pounds per square inch (PSI) based on how much your rig weighs. Do not always fill it to the maximum PSI number that’s listed on the tire’s sidewall. Figure out how much your rig weighs, look up the tire specs, and fill your tires to the suggested pressure based on this calculation. It’s important to run through a quick tire safety check before hitting the road.
There are plenty of brands that sell TPMS units, so do your research before purchasing. Togo RV Plus offers a member discount on TireMinder, a popular TPMS option for RVers. Another reputable, though not inexpensive, option is Truck System Technologies (TST) TPMS units, as they’re used in most factory cars, trucks, and trailers. TST’s units are not always inexpensive, but with replaceable batteries and a comprehensive warranty, they tend to work the best.
Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Tires
Maintaining your tires can save you time and money. Tires are expensive to replace, and having one blow before the end of its life can be avoided with proper maintenance.
- Check your tires for uneven wear, as this could be a sign of an axle problem. If not fixed, this can cause overheating in your current tire and wear down a new tire more quickly. A TPMS also monitors the temperature and can alert you of any overheating problems before larger problems arise.
- Rotate the tires on your motorhome or trailer just as you do on your car. This will continue to help your tires wear evenly and extend their lifespan.
- Keep your tires out of the sun. RV tires tend to dry out from ultraviolet light before worn-out treads become the problem. When storing your RV or parking it for a long time, put tire covers over your tires to reduce UV damage and help extend their lifespan.
Be Prepared for the Worst
If you have a motorhome, know the contact information of a service provider you can use if you can’t change your tires. Trailer tires are often easier to change, but make sure you have the right equipment. You don’t want to be stuck in an unfamiliar area with no phone service, tools, or access to help.
Below, find links to the equipment we use to ensure all of our tires can be changed. We prefer to take our tow vehicle (a truck) to a tire shop to have the tires rotated, maintained, or replaced—but in a pinch, we can do it ourselves.
With the right tools in place, you can be prepared in the event of an accident and know that your rig is properly maintained for safety.
Is there a device that I can use to monitor my tires while driving long distances?
Almost all quality TPMS units have a screen for the driver to monitor tires while on the road. Some connect to an app on your smartphone through Bluetooth.
How can I tell if my tires need to be changed to reduce my risk of a blowout?
Similar to a car, look for uneven wear or exposed wires and netting, especially around the sidewall. Check tread levels by fitting a quarter or penny into the grooves of your tires—in safe treads, the coin should stand straight up. Generally speaking, if your tires are more than 5 years old, they should be replaced regardless of condition. Read more about how to check the age of your tires here.
Should I always have a spare for my RV? If so, how many?
A spare tire can help you travel to a service center or to a safe destination where you can troubleshoot. Some RVers travel with two spares for their RV, but if you have one spare for your RV and one for your tow vehicle, you should be able to get to a safe area or repair shop in most situations.
What is the bare minimum I should carry in order to change a tire?
You should travel with a jack and a tire wrench at the bare minimum. You’ll also probably find that you need an air compressor frequently.
What do I do if I can’t change the tire on my RV?
Even if you can change your own tire, a roadside assistance plan is an inexpensive and smart way to keep you and your RV safe. For example, your tire issue could also be related to an engine problem or another maintenance issue, in which case you’d need a tow. Look into an RV specific service, as most insurance companies can’t deploy help for trailers or heavyweight vehicles.
Kris and Andy from Where Wild Ones Roam have been on the road since 2018 and are traveling the country in their Keystone Fuzion. High in the mountains and deep in a forest is where we they feel at home the most. They are true nomads.
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