Tip of the Month for May 2020: Check your tires!
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
When I first started RV’ing I had zero idea about anything RV related. Borderline ignorance if you would like to really break it down. I had no idea about weight limitations, tow capacity, or even how to really operate my holding tanks. Thankfully, the owner I bought the rig from gave me some nuggets of knowledge that have stayed with me and have probably kept us traveling safely in our Aerbus. Then after completing RV Tech School, I learned so much more about tires that I never knew! One thing that the previous owner said stuck out odd to me: “You’re going to need to change the tires in 2019 or 2020.”
What in the world is he talking about? Why would I change out my tires at a certain year instead of wear patterns? None of this makes any sense to me! Lets add some extra confusion to this little quandary. Goodyear tire states:
“Goodyear does not state a specific replacement age for RV tires because there are many conditions that dictate a tire's life span. Some factors that influence how long a tire will last are:
-Usage per year - more frequent usage will result in longer life
-Vehicle storage practices (6 months loaded with little or no rotation is not good!)
-Usage in warmer climates can also impact a tire's overall life due to greater extreme ozone exposure”
Goodyear RV Tires. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodyearrvtires.com/tire-replacement-guidelines.aspx
Ok, that makes a lot of sense there right? Here is what Michelin Tires says:
“Michelin recommends that any tires, including spare tires, should be replaced after 10 years of service, even if they have not reached the legal wear limit.” -https://www.michelinb2b.com/wps/b2bcontent/PDF/RV_Tires_Brochure.pdf
Finally, if you search the Google machine you will get something more in the middle via IRV2 forums.
“Tire Life Expectancy (RV's) - Vehicle storage practices (6 months loaded with little or no rotation is not good!) - RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) says, ”Statistics indicate that the average life of an RV tire is five to seven years.”
Everyone caught up now? Good! Tires are greatly overlooked by a lot of RVers in my opinion because there is so much information out there. Hopefully, this little article can give you a few ideas and tips so that you have a better idea of what you’re towing/driving around in. After all, it’s only our family in those rigs that we are transporting. Right?
Tire Date of Birth
On the sidewall of your tires is a code for date of birth. You should see a 4 digit code that explains it. As you can see from my picture of my tire, this one was 3014. On this particular brand of tire, it is preceded by some codes that are a part of other information (not talking about that one today). With this code, I know that my tire was made on the 30th week (end of July) in 2014. The change date for total time of the tire has been brought up on different pages as either the actual date of birth or date of installation. I personally lean toward the date of installation.
Tire Rating and Inflation
The tires on your rig are weight rated. This is extremely important to remember because if you’re over the weight rating for that tire, you’re on a ticking time bomb waiting to blow out while you’re going 70 MPH and least expecting it. You can find all of the particular information about ratings of tires on the company’s web page. All you need is to take a look on the sidewall, copy down the numbers, and bounce that off of the web search. Some tires also have the rating on the sidewall but not all. After you have that information, you can find out if you have the right ones for your weight category.
Inflation of the tire is also tied into weight. At a certain weight, your tires should be filled to a certain PSI to provide a smooth ride and optimum performance. You will find that information in the manual for the tire on your rig or a search of the company web page of your specific tire. When inflating, do not trust the gas station gage. When do you think that thing was last calibrated? Always keep your own tire pressure gage and use it!
When you’re filling these tires, two little pieces of extra advice. Remember you’re likely putting 90-120 PSI in these tires; do not stand directly in front of the tire when filling. I know, this will make filling awkward at times and seems a bit strange, but if that tire blows on you (They can and do!), you’re going to have a very bad day if you survive. Second, remember that those air pumps at the gas station are for cars mostly. You’re going to get 40-50 PSI max out of them. Use the trucks ones that are at all of the truck stops.
TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
These are worth every single penny in my opinion. I have one that measures all 6 of my tires for PSI, Temperature, and leak detection. Mine has saved me on more than one occasion when it came to losing pressure while driving to a pending major failure due to my tire rubbing on the wheel well (story for another time). These will let you know if something is going wrong and could be the warning you get right before a blow out. There are many different ones to choose from that have all sorts of fun functions to choose from.
One of your greatest allies in this is the good old fashion visual inspection. I know with my tires, I have two spots that are flat, the tread on one bead is more worn than the other ones, and my tires have been retreaded once in their life. The sidewalls are clean of damage, and the tread depth is good still. When you get down there to look at your tires, actually take the time to look at all of the tires including the backside. You never know if something happened in there unless you check and I prefer to spend 1 minute inspecting to know that all is well than let it go and find out while driving. I normally do a visual check my tires each time I fill up at the pump and pressure before departing the campsite for the day.
I hope that this helped with some knowledge for you. Tires are always something that should be thought about when you’re traveling, when you’re doing your budget for the time where you’ll be replacing them (because they are not cheap!), and when you’re parked at the campground. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! I look forward to seeing you around the campfire one day.