Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Whether or not RVs need special tires depends on a number of things. There are no special tires that are designated “RV tires.” Travel trailers, 5th wheels, and Class B, Class C, or Class A motorhomes will have unique characteristics which put different demands on the tires on which it is riding on. Let’s take a look at some of these different RV types and the types of tires they may need.
Travel trailers are the most diverse group of RVs and the tires they use can vary as much as the trailers themselves. Travel trailers uniquely stress their tires in two ways.
First is weight.
Travel trailers can be exceptionally heavy with some models tipping the scales over 12,000 lbs.
While multiple axles can help distribute that weight, you will likely need tires with higher load indexes than you’d find on a standard passenger car.
Next is lateral force.
Travel trailer tires can experience lateral (side to side) stresses on the tires which are several times greater than a typical passenger vehicle. This is due to weight, sway, wind, and other forces acting on the trailer.
For travel trailers, the need to carry heavier weights and deal with the higher lateral forces is usually covered by a trailer or light truck tire. These tires are available in a variety of load ranges which are designated by a letter rating on the tire sidewall. Each sequential letter in the alphabet equates to 2 extra plys in the tire’s construction (load range C = 6 ply, load range D = 8 ply).
Those extra plys increase the maximum inflation pressure the tire can hold, which translates to higher weight capacity. The extra plys also stiffen the sidewalls for better lateral force performance.
Finally, there are a number of “off-road” travel trailers available on the market. These trailers are best served with light truck tires. They offer the performance needed for travel trailers in general and they are available in a wide variety of tread patterns specifically designed to handle any off-road terrain.
5th wheels are much like travel trailers with a couple exceptions.
First, they don’t experience much sway while towing so sway doesn’t play much of a roll in the lateral forces the tires experience.
They can however be quite a bit heavier.
Fifth wheels still use standard 16” automotive style rims so the best tire choices for these will still be trailer and light truck tires. Just like with travel trailers, these tires will provide the weight capacity and lateral force resistance needed for travel.
Motorhomes vary in size and tire requirements by class so let’s look at the specific classes.
Class B – Class B motorhomes are based mainly on commercial van chassis with some light truck based options out there as well. These RVs are smaller and lighter than their larger class C and A cousins. Class B motorhomes typically have LT (Light Truck) or the newer C-Type tires.
Both are available with the higher load ratings Class B’s need, with the C-Type tires having heavier available ratings than LT tires if you need them. If your class B is 4 wheel drive, LT tires are available with offroad tread patterns that will allow you to explore the backcountry with confidence.
Class C – Class C motorhome tire requirements can vary greatly with the specific model. Class C’s can be built on commercial van, light truck, and heavy truck (super C) chassis. Depending on the size and weight the chassis is designed to carry you may have standard automotive rims, or commercial truck rims. If it’s the former then you’ll be looking at light truck tires. If it’s the latter then heavier duty commercial tires. will be needed.
Class A – Most class A’s will have commercial truck tires installed. These are designed to handle the weight of the heavier class As.
You might not have known there was so much to know about RV tires, am I right? Well, you never know what else you don’t know. Check out these other RV-related articles that can help you become next level RV smart.