Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
When you start your RV adventure, you’ll watch a lot of Youtube videos trying to figure out things like, “Are RV tire blowouts common?”, read a lot of blogs, and try to absorb as much information as possible before you hit the road.
One thing you’ll learn very quickly is that RV tire blowouts happen to everyone. It’s par for the course when living in a big box on wheels, and many full-time RVers consider it a rite of passage.
Since the chances of you having an RV tire blow out at least once during your travels, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Before you hit the road, equip yourself with the tools, technology, and skills to handle this kind of roadside emergency. Start here:
What Causes RV Tire Blow Outs?
RV tire blowouts happen for a variety of reasons, just like cars. You can run over a nail in the road or hit a pothole at just the right angle. Other common causes for tire blowouts include:
Inadequate Tire Pressure
One of the most common causes of RV tire blowouts is too much (or too little) air in the tires. Part of your RV setup routine should include checking tire pressure, every time. You can use a manual tire pressure gauge, but most full-time RVers invest in a tire pressure monitoring system.
This technology allows you to put sensors on all of your RV tires, and then monitor their air pressure either through an app on your phone or a small monitor that mounts on your dashboard.
For the average 16″ RV tire, the tire pressure should be anywhere between 35-80 PSI. This is a wide range, and your exact number will depend on your tire grade, how much weight your RV is, your tow vehicle, and how far you’re traveling. Weather conditions also play a part in tire pressure and when the temperature drops the tire pressure drops as well.
Making sure your tires are properly inflated is a must even though blowouts occur even when you’ve done everything right.
Overloading The RV
The weight of your RV will play a significant role in how it drives. The heavier the RV, the more pressure on the tires and the more likely your tires are to blow. To find out how much your RV can handle, check your owner’s manual. The maximum weight that your RV can handle is listed as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Wear and Tear
Normal wear and tear is another reason RV tires blow out. Using your RV all year long can put serious wear and tear on the tires, which will mean replacing them more often. Even if your RV sits in storage for six months out of the year, sitting in one spot can cause weak spots that can lead to blowouts. Using (and not using) RV tires can lead to tire blowouts.
Replacing Your Tires
When you buy a new RV, one of the first pieces of advice you’ll receive is to take the factory tires off and replace them with higher-quality tires. Even if you buy a brand new RV, it is recommended to upgrade the tires. The general rule is that RV tires should be replaced every 3-6 years, but this depends on how far your travel and how often you use the RV. Some signs that your tires need to be replaced include:
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Worn Down Tread
One way to determine if your tire tread is worn is to do the penny test. Stick a penny upside down into the tread of the tire. If you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, you are below 2/32” of tread and it’s time for new tires.
Stress Cracks and Bubbles
Weather, rough roads, and continuous use can cause stress cracks in the tread of the tire. Small cracks are normal, but if you notice the cracks are expanding, this is a red flag that the tire needs to be replaced. Look at the sidewalls of the tire for bulges and bubbles. These bubbles could be pockets of water or form after hitting a pothole, the curb, or experiencing extreme heat. Bubbles in a tire can’t be fixed or repairs, they are signs that the whole tire needs to be replaced.
Even if your tires are still looking good, they should still be replaced every 3-5 years, depending on the type of tire, the manufacturer’s guidelines, and how often the tires are used.
Before you hit the road each time, check tires for any sign of visible damage. This includes bald spots, punctures, or bulges.
The tires are the most important feature on the RV, and they’re worth spending good money on.
Understanding Tire Grades
If you’re not a mechanic by trade, understanding tire load capacities, load ranges, and ply ratings can seem like a foreign language. The most important thing to know is that tire grades are identified by letters, ranging from A-N, and most RVs have B-F grade tires. The higher the letter the higher the ply rating and the higher the maximum air pressure. Generally, the higher the grade the better the tire.
Learning how to read the ratings on the tires can be a lifesaver.
The Importance Of Tire Rotation And Realignment
Part of your regular RV maintenance should include tire rotation and realignment. Taking the RV to a mechanic to have the tires rotated and realigned can extend the life of the tire. Realigning the tires helps the tires track the surface of the road more effectively. Tire rotation is important for a different reason. The weight of the RV causes the front tires to wear down more quickly on the outside edges because of how the vehicle turns corners. Switching the tires out, or rotating them, makes it easier to handle the RV and makes the ride smoother and safer.
Tools To Have On Hand
Even when you are diligent about tire replacement, tire rotation, and tire pressuring monitoring, sometimes things just happen. Preparing yourself for this moment will make it a lot less stressful. First, make sure you have the right tools on hand:
- RV jacks
- RV leveler
- Lug wrench (tire wrench)
- New tire
If you don’t know how to change a tire, use the time before you get on the road to watch videos and have someone teach you. Invest in roadside assistance so that you can call for help if you need it. Being prepared will help you feel more confident and in control when you experience your first RV tire blowout.
If we’re being totally honest, the question is not if you will experience a tire blowout, but when. This is not meant to scare you, but to help you prepare yourself for a common RV life inconvenience. The best thing you can do is be proactive and prepared. With the right tools and knowledge, you can handle an RV tire blowout and get back out on the road.