8 RV tire safety tips
8 RV tire safety tips
RV tire safety is something that is a critical component of StressLess Camping. There is a lot of talk of “China Bombs,” particularly in the realm of travel trailers, which refers to the low-bidder tires equipped on many travel trailers. But even the standard tires can give you a lot of value and any tire will last longer knowing these eight simple tire care tips.
1 Tire Inflation
According to the RV industry, one of the biggest causes of tire failure, particularly in travel trailers, is an RV that is too heavy for the tires and suspension. The RV Safety and Education Foundation has produced excellent guides to weighing RVs and is available on their website.
There should also be a tire inflation guide placard on the outside of your travel trailer. Remember this was for the original tires on the coach so, if you’ve changed tires, you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for inflation based on weight.
Too high an inflation pressure and you could cause premature wear of the tread by there being sort of a “bulge” in the middle. Too low an inflation pressure and you could cause premature failure of the tire due to it flexing too much and getting hot, particularly at highway speeds.
Check the inflation pressure of your tires early in the day before the sun has had a chance to alter the inflation pressure. Use a known gauge that is accurate and adjust the tire inflation pressure as necessary.
2 - Replacing RV Tires
A tire’s age is based on when it was manufactured, not when it was installed on your RV. Check out this infographic on how to read the data on your tires. There is a manufacture date after the manufacturer’s code on the tire with the first two digits indicating the year and the second pair of digits indicating the week the tire was made. So a tire with the date 4216 would have been made in 2016 (second two digits) in the month of September (September generally has the 40th weeks).
According to industry sources, RV tires should be replaced after five to seven years from manufacture so, even if your RV is only 3-4 years old the tires may have gone past their expiration date. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how many miles they have on them or how the tread looks, the material the tire is made of tends to decompose based more on time and older tires can be time bombs.
It may also make sense to replace them well before the five year mark if there are signs of damage or the tread has worn to a point where they’re no longer safe.
3 - Know Your ABCs: What Letters Mean on Tires
If you look at your RV’s tires, there are a series of letters and numbers on them. These letters and numbers may vary from one tire to another on your vehicle. The letters and numbers tell you a lot of valuable information about your tires. Let’s decipher them now:
B: B, D, and R are all tire casing construction types. B refers to belted bias.
D: Another letter referring to tire casing construction. In this case, it’s diagonal bias construction.
DOT: The DOT number is the abbreviation for the U.S Department of Transportation serial number. It may have three or four digits. If your tires were produced in 2000 or later, then it’ll be four digits. It was before 2000, it’ll be three. The digits refer to the specific week and year the tires were made. The week is in the first digits and the year in the latter two. Remember, it’s the week and not the month. So 05 refers to fifth week of the year (late January or early February), not May.
H: An H on your tire is part of a max speed rating classification. You may see letters A through G, but the most common ones are H onward. These tell you how fast you can go without damaging the tires and risking a blowout. In the case of H, it’s 130 miles per hour (MPH).
P: If you have a passenger tire, it will be marked with a P. In this case, P doesn’t mean “passenger tire” but rather PMetric.
Q: The max speed is 100 MPH.
R: Going back to tire casing construction, R refers to radial construction.
S: 112 MPH is the max speed.
T: 118 MPH is the max speed.
U: 124 MPH is the max speed.
V: 149 MPH is the max speed.
W: 168 MPH is the max speed.
Y: 186 MPH is the max speed.
Z: 187 MPH and higher is the max speed.
A Few More Tips
4 -It’s not a bad idea to have the tires covered when the vehicle is sitting. The sun’s rays can cause accelerated deterioration so covering the tires can reduce this effect.
5 - When in storage keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
6 - Avoid storing your tires on frozen ground. The rubber can become more brittle, and crack as a result.
7 - Some experts recommend that you should position a barrier, like a piece of wood, between the ground and the tire when your RV is in storage. This is known as blocking and the ‘barrier’ needs to be longer and wider than the tread footprint. Care should be taken to make sure that the load on each tire is distributed evenly or damage can occur to the sidewalls.
8 - When in storage for any prolonged period of time, avoid parking on petroleum-based surfaces like asphalt. As petroleum is a solvent it can react with the tire if left stationary for a long time. In addition, the high heat absorption properties of asphalt can be damaging to tires over time.