Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
“When Should I replace my RV tires?” is a serious safety question. Not knowing the answer could cause major problems down the road.
Your tires are arguably the most important feature of your RV. If your tires aren’t performing, you’re not going anywhere. Regular tire maintenance helps to keep things rolling (no pun intended), and knowing when to replace your RV tires can prevent a blown tire.
The Lifespan Of An RV Tire
As a general rule, the life of an RV tire is 3-6 years. However, this range depends on the type of tire, the weight of the RV, the distance traveled, weather conditions, and road conditions.
It’s also important to remember that there is a difference between truck tires and RV tires. RV tires are thicker than car tires and are designed more for safety and function than comfort. This means your RV will feel the bumps a little more than your truck does.
How often you use your tires will also directly impact their lifespan. If you are a full-time RVer and cover thousands of miles every year, your RV tires will probably need to be replaced closer to the 3-year mark.
If you only take your RV out a few times a year, the tires will last longer. Be careful, though, because tires left in the same spot and same position can develop weak spots that jeopardize the integrity of the tire. If your RV has been in storage for some time, you may need to replace the RV tires before hitting the road.
Increasing The Life Of Your Tires
Being proactive is one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your tires. Your regular tire maintenance schedule should include:
- Tire rotation
- Tire alignments
- Washing your RV tires
- Routine tire inspections
- Covering your RV tires when they’re not in use
Signs It’s Time To Replace Your RV Tires
If you’ve reached the 3-6 year tire life limit on your RV tires without having a blowout or needing to replace them, congratulations! A blown tire is more common than you’d think, but the age of the tire is just one of the many things to cause them. Some of the most common signs that it is time to replace your RV tires are:
Wear and Tear
Before you travel, a thorough inspection of your RV tires should be part of your maintenance routine. Look at each tire for signs of wear and tear, such as bald spots or tread wear.
Tread helps your tire track the road, and when it is worn down, it makes the tire prone to slipping and sliding. One way to test the tread wear is to use the penny test. Stick a penny upside down in between the tread of the tire. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, the tread is too low, and it is time for the tire to be replaced.
Bubbles and Cracks
Tires are made of multiple layers, and when water pools in between the layers, it can create bubbles. Bubbles can also be caused by hitting a curb or driving over a pothole, going too fast over railroad tracks, or driving on a flat tire for a while.
These bubbles are like ticking time bombs and put you and other drivers at risk. These noticeable bubbles can’t be repaired and will require a new tire.
Small cracks in the tire are normal, but significant sidewall cracks can be a sign of something more serious. These cracks are a sign that the rubber materials are starting to break down.
This breakdown is caused by the oils and chemicals on the road and sun exposure. Exposure to these elements decreases the flexibility of the rubber, which causes cracks. Small, superficial cracks usually don’t pose a threat to your tires, but if you notice they are growing, spreading, or increasing in number, it’s time to replace your RV tires.
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Cuts and Punctures
A careful inspection of the rubber on your RV tires will help you check for cuts, punctures, and exterior damage. A nail, rock, or another foreign object could be stuck in the tire and cause major damage while on the road. You could run over something that does not puncture the tire, and removing it before you drive could prevent further damage
If you notice you’ve run over something but aren’t sure if the tire is punctured, try to soapy water test. Spray some water over the object and look for bubbles. If you don’t see bubbles, remove the object and spray again. If you still don’t see bubbles, it means air is not leaking out of the tire. If you do see bubbles, it means the tire is leaking, and it’s time to replace them.
Common Tire Mistakes
One of the most common mistakes RV owners make when it comes to their RV tires involves air pressure. Tires that are over or under-inflated can cause tire blowouts, and most of the time, this can be prevented. It is recommended that the average 16′ RV tire should be anywhere between 35-80 PSI.
This is a wide range, and each RV manufacturers will provide the recommended maximum tire pressure based on the maximum weight of the RV. You can find this information on the tire, in the manual, on a sticker inside of the RV, stuck to the glove box door, or on the doorpost.
What happens when tire pressure is too high?
When there is too much air in a tire, it makes the tire harder. This can limit traction and cause uneven tire wear. Overinflated RV tires have a reduced rolling resistance and can increase gas mileage.
What happens when tire pressure is too low?
Most tire blowouts happen because of low tire pressure. Without enough air in the tires, the tires have more contact with the ground than they should. This also causes the tire to generate excessive heat, which leads to tire failure.
One of the most important tools you can have as an RVer is a tire pressure monitoring system. This allows you to add sensors to each tire, ensure they are properly inflated, and monitor them via an app on your phone or a screen mounted on the dashboard.
You can also keep a constant eye on the tire pressure of all the tires, and you’ll know right away if the air pressure in a tire has changed.
Another common tire mistake is trying to be frugal when it comes to tires. RV tires are not something you should skimp on. High-quality tires can be expensive, but they keep your family safe and your RV rolling safely. Don’t buy cheap RV tires.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to your RV tires, you should be proactive and intentional. Taking good care of your RV tires should be a top priority, and you should always be aware of the condition of all of your tires.
Schedule routine tire maintenance to ensure your tires are working at their best, and don’t put off a tire replacement. Whether you notice visible wear and tear or your tires are reaching the end of their recommended lifespan, a tire replacement is one of the best ways to keep your RV in peak condition.