A late arrival to the campfire explained that this RVer didn’t intend to pull into the campground after nine in the evening. He arrived late because he had a flat tire on his travel trailer. After waiting three hours for road assistance to show up, he finally changed the tire himself. I wondered what other RVers would do in this situation, so I posed the question to everyone else sitting around the fire: If your RV got a flat tire while traveling, would you try changing it yourself or would you call roadside assistance?
Motorhome has no spare tire
George smirked: “It’d be difficult for me to change my diesel pusher’s tire because I don’t have a spare! And even if I did, that tire’d be too heavy for me to maneuver anyway.” He explained that a tire for his rig weighed more than 100 pounds. Never having owned a motorhome, I had no idea that some didn’t carry a spare. It makes sense.
Marla owns a fifth-wheel RV and has changed a flat two different times during her travels. “Mine is one of the smallest fifth-wheels you can buy, and I wanted it for this very reason. If I couldn’t service it myself, I wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.” This means Marla needs to take along all of the necessary tools, a jack, and of course the spare tire. “Everything’s with me all the time since I’m full-time on the road,” she explained.
Tim, on the other hand, has a very large fifth-wheel toy-hauler. “Change a flat tire on that behemoth?! No way!”
Travel trailer trouble
“Change my own flat? Well, that’d depend on several factors: the terrain, width of the shoulder, time of day/night, and more,” Troy responded.
Our late-comer lamented, “Our owner’s manual said: ‘Do not attempt to change a flat tire on your RV. Should one occur, call a road hazard company.’” Several folks felt this was simply “lawyer-speak,” to protect the manufacturer should someone get injured while changing a flat.
Tips for changing an RV flat tire
With so many different RV configurations, it’s impossible to provide universal directions for changing an RV tire. If you want detailed information for your particular rig, you should consult your owner’s manual. That said, there are general safety tips that apply to all RVers.
- Flashers and reduce speed. When your tire pressure monitoring system indicates a problem, or when you suspect tire trouble, put on your emergency flashers and slow down. Note: If you don’t have a TPMS, seriously consider purchasing one. For us, it’s a necessary safety feature.
- Stop away from traffic. If possible, move to a safe place, well off the highway. Do not drive on a flat tire. Not only can it potentially ruin the tire, but it may also damage the wheel.
- Caution cones. Set up your safety cones, triangles, or flares to alert other drivers. (Keep these in your RV at all times.)
- Call for assistance. If there is significant, high-speed traffic on the roadway, reduced visibility, soft shoulders, or any other hindrance that makes you feel uncomfortable about changing your own tire, call roadside assistance.
Note: When our truck got a flat tire, we contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol. We were traveling on a very busy, high-speed interstate highway. The shoulder was not wide enough for us to pull completely off the road and the flat tire was (of course) on the highway side of the truck. We explained our situation to the patrol’s contact person, and she sent an officer out. He positioned his car so that traffic had to move over, giving us enough space to successfully change the tire.
Have you ever changed a flat tire on your RV? Tell us about it in the comments below.