Newbies asked for advice from folks around the campfire. “Our camper isn’t even a year old,” the Newbies moaned, “so why did we have blowouts?” On their very first trip, the Minnesota Newbies lost not one, but two of their travel trailer’s tires! They were fortunate to keep their rig on the road and, thankfully, damage to their RV was remarkably minimal. However, the experience really frightened them.
Experienced RVers respond
There were many differing opinions about which RV tires are best, but on one point nearly everyone agreed: The tires that many RV manufacturers routinely put on their newly built RVs are “junk.” Wally explained, “Like many RV components, the majority of manufacturers use the least expensive tires they can find. It’s worth it for consumers to immediately replace those tires with some that are safer and will last.”
The Newbies freely admitted that they knew very little about tires. So, George offered a quick lesson. He showed the Minnesota folks his own tire markings along with the meaning of each notation. You can see a breakdown of information labeled in this picture.
(Hint: If you have difficulty reading the information on your tires, try rubbing over the letters/numbers with a piece of white chalk to make the markings more visible.)
Use the tire information to help you determine how fast to drive, how much weight the tires can safely support, and more.
How long will RV tires last?
According to my local, privately owned RV dealership, you can expect your RV’s tires to last anywhere from 3 to 6 years. It all depends on the type of tires, how much you drive, and how you care for the tires.
How to best care for RV tires
- Inflation and speed. “Keep your tires properly inflated,” recommended Wally. “And watch your speed. My tires last a lot longer if I keep my speed well under 65 mph.” A tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, is also important. It will show the pressure and temperature of your tires as you drive down the road, alerting you when dangerous levels are detected.
- Tire covers. “If my rig is parked for any length of time, I cover them,” George commented. “Dry rot can become a real problem if you don’t use tire covers.”
- Tire load rating. Folks also noted the effect your RV’s weight can have on the tires. Too much weight in your rig can cause the tires to fail or wear poorly. And your RV’s weight has the potential to vary quite a bit from trip to trip. For example, if you plan to boondock and carry a full tank of potable water, your RV will weigh far more than when all tanks are empty. Folks around the fire recommended keeping your RV’s weight well under the tires’ maximum load rating.
- Tire treatments. Several folks mentioned treating their RV tires with 303 Tire Coating and Protectant spray to prevent tire dry rot and cracking.
- Rotating tires. Many RVers around the campfire said they never rotated their RV tires. I asked our local mechanic, who happens to also own an RV. He said, “RV tires are impacted by normal wear and tear just like any other tire.” He recommends rotating the RV’s tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
Helpful tire tips
The Newbie RVers had their RV dealership replace their two blown tires. “Our rig was in the shop for 12 weeks!” they regretfully explained. “We missed out on a lot of camping while we waited our turn for service!”
Here’s a little secret: Almost any tire place will put new tires on your RV, even if you don’t purchase your tires from their store (e.g., Discount Tire shops or privately owned shops). Call ahead first.
Another buying tip: Price shop at Costco. My husband and I bought a membership to Costco specifically because we needed new tires for our truck. The discounted price for tires more than paid for our membership fee.
Think about your tires as you pack your RV for travel. Try to evenly distribute the weight from back to front and side to side. For example, our refrigerator, oven, and pantry are all positioned on one side of our RV. That’s a lot of weight on the tires for that side of the fifth-wheel. When we travel, we try to offset the “heavy side” as much as possible by packing any heavy items (tools, boxes of canned food, drinks, etc.,) on the opposite side of the rig.
Best RV tires?
Here’s where the campfire discussion got a little heated. (People are pretty opinionated about their tires, it seems.) These are the tires most recommended by the RVers in attendance: Goodyear Unisteel G670; Maxxis M8008 ST Radials; Michelin XPS; and Bridgestone Duravis M700.
When shopping for RV tires, it pays to check out any available rebates, BOGOs, or other specials. Also consider the type of your RV (travel trailer, fifth-wheel, motorhome), the speed at which you like to travel, the type of terrain you’ll experience most, the weight of your loaded rig, tire warranties, and your budget. Then make the decision that’s right for you.
What kind of tires do you have on your RV? What steps do you take to prolong the life of your RV tires? Share your tips in the comments, please.
Find more tire-related articles from our RV tire expert Roger Marble here.