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Know Your RV: Why balance your trailer tires?

Got a fifth-wheel or travel trailer? Then your “towable” RV has tires on the ground. If you check your tire pressure regularly, and don’t overload your rig, you’re ahead of the game. But, strangely enough, even among veteran towable owners there is something about tires often neglected: balance. Few people would drive their car or truck away from the shop with new tires not balanced. But a lot of RVers don’t get their towable tires balanced.

Why balance your trailer tires?

Why balance your tires? It ensures that the weight is evenly distributed all around the tire. Don’t balance them and what might you expect? Uneven or fast tread wear. Less fuel economy. Wheel vibration—even bouncing. All of that’s bad on the tires, and on the pocketbook. But it runs deeper than that.

balance“Have you ever driven down the freeway and watched a vehicle with an unbalanced tire?” a tire industry professional once asked us. “The tire can bounce so hard it can actually leave the pavement.” Since you’ll be up in the tow vehicle, you might not even notice. But if you were inside your RV and your tires were bouncing, you’d surely notice it. Now imagine all your fragile and expensive “stuff” inside the trailer taking an unnecessary jolting from out-of-balance tires.

Persevere!

balanceIt should be easy enough to see the value of balancing your towable tires. But not everyone agrees. Plenty of RVers have told us they’ve asked “tire professionals” about balancing their trailer tires only to get a blank look in return. Many tire shop employees have said, “Never heard of it.” And sad to say, some have simply told RVers, “We don’t do it.”

Your first challenge may be finding a shop to balance your tires. Persevere. The next issue is, not all trailer wheels are created equal. If your trailer wheel is reminiscent of the ones on your car or truck, that is, with a nice round hole in the center for the bearing cap to protrude from, well and good. But some trailer wheels don’t have a center hole, and even if the shop wanted to, they might not be equipped to do it. In those instances, the shop will need an adapter that uses lug holes to hook up to their balancer.

Keep your tires happy. Make your rig happy. Keep your tire balance.

Tune in next week for more “Know Your RV” tips. And if there’s something about your RV that you’d like to know, drop us a line. Use the form below, and insert “Know Your RV” on the subject line.

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Other stories by Russ and Tiña De Maris

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G13
16 days ago

I’m amazed at some of the comments below re: “balancing”. When I replaced the tires on our TT, both tires were balanced after tires were mounted. This is a norm at Discount Tires, you can have this done repeatedly free of charge if tires are purchased at any of their stores).

Dan
16 days ago

Balancing is important.With all the movement of an unbalanced tire is the movement of bushings and shackles.The bushings used in most travel trailers are thin plastic tubing that is trashed in a few thousand miles. The mounting bolts then start grinding on spring shackles and springs.
Along with balancing your tires,consider upgrading the load range for a margin of safety. Upgrading suspension bushings to “Never Fail” (Lippert ) or wet bushings (greasable) can also help. There’s a lot going on back there!

Bob
16 days ago

When I replaced the China bombs on my year old trailer, I asked the tech to balance the tires. He gave me a strange look and said they normally don’t balance trailer tires. After I explained why, he agreed that they should be balanced. On a trailer with two wheels per side, one tire bouncing migrates to the other tire affecting both.

Tom H.
16 days ago

I replaced my wheels and tires recently on our 5th wheel and the company balanced them before they shipped them to me. I’ve asked a few tire shops about balancing trailer tires and you’re right, they didn’t agree or acted like they’ve never heard such a thing. I guess that’s how I will weed out the bad and good tire shops.

Dave Pellegrino
16 days ago

While you write interesting articles on many subjects in the RV realm, wouldn’t it have been prudent to at least get RVTravel’s resident tire expert to provide input in the article?

Roger Marble
16 days ago

Thanks for the mention. I do have a number of posts on my blog RVTireSafety.net that mention Balancing. But the short answer is Yes I suggest that tires be balanced as the act of balancing can reveal conditions such as incomplete mounting, Non-concentric mounting, In extreme cases if there is a structural problem or even part of a component missing that could be revealed when you balance and find that you need excessive (more than 8 OZ) weights to achieve balance. RVTravel.com does include a post from my blog every week but with over 500 posts on dozens of tire and inflation-related topics you might find that going to the source can provide additional details that you may have missed in RVTravel.com

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