Monday, October 3, 2022


RV Shrink: RV spare tire dilemma – How to reach it?

Dear RV Shrink:
My husband has a spare tire problem and it is not just his belly. We travel part of the year with our pickup camper. It is the biggest one made and extends out over the back of our truck. We had a flat tire and he couldn’t get the spare out from under the truck. We called road service and the driver that showed up had some special ratchet tool and was able to climb under and retrieve the tire. My husband’s own spare tire won’t fit under the truck to get the spare tire out. What other options are there? Do all RVers just use road service? —Flat Out Worried in Flagstaff

Dear Flag Lady:
Good for you. Lesson learned. Thinking about a flat tire before you have one again is half the battle. Most large RVs don’t even come with a spare anymore. Mine does, but getting it from the outside storage bin on the road side, that was designed under the rear bed slide, would probably kill me – unless a truck runs me over first. 

Many truck camper owners jury-rig a ratchet extension that will lower the tire with the camper still on the truck. It is often not that simple even if you have designed something ahead of time. Road grime has often clogged the gears and the tire won’t lower without a bit of profanity and hammer-pounding. To do that you usually need to get under the vehicle – which can be challenging if you have a clearance issue. 

One solution is to mount a spare on the front of the truck, but often owners have already designated that area for bikes or other recreational toys. I did see a creative solution last winter. A couple had the spare rack mounted on the back in the hitch receiver. I asked them how they got in and out of the camper. They dropped the tire and rack down and it became their rear step. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Road service is a great convenience unless you are out in the middle of nowhere. The farther out you are the more expensive a service call will be. Having a backup plan is always a great idea.  

You only need one spare tire, so have your husband lose his. It will add years to your RV Lifestyle. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



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2 years ago

Never mount a tire on the front bumper, it blocks air to the radiator and MH or tow vechicials work very hard to move there load down the road. so they need all of the fresh air avilable to keep the engine cool.

Tom Fitch
2 years ago

I had a similar issue with my Tacoma’s spare under the bed with the camper loaded. The factory handle could not turn when inserted to screw down the tire because it was not long enough to clear the camper overhang. I bought a long valve tool for turning on and off sprinkler valves down in the ground. Home Depot has them, and probably most sprinkler supply stores. They come in many lengths (mine is 36″) and if you slightly crimp in the business end, it reaches the screw fitting for the spare great. Maybe I’ll never need it, but at least I’m ready.

2 years ago

I have helped young adults with flat tires that did not know if they had a spare and where it was hiding. Amazing how many flats I see along the road, where it is apparent they have no spare. Cannot help them at all.
While we mention spares, remember to check your RV’s spare, both for age and air. Out of sight, out of mind.

Donald N Wright
2 years ago

I am amazed how many RV’ers cannot change a flat tire. Then again, I have met young adult males who cannot change the tire on their car.

Martin A
2 years ago

For some it isn’t lack of know how, for me it is arthritis and inability to get down to remove the spare or to remove the lug nuts, on my tug they are torqued to 140 lbs, some motor homes are much higher then that.

Mark Birnbaum
2 years ago

All the young females can already change the tire on their car, or aren’t you expecting they should? Mine can.

My Fiats (one is my toad) came without a spare. They give you an air pump, though. The spare tire and mounting kit is a dealer option ($$$). Well worth it if you travel to more remote places.

My children (16,19, 20) all prep yearly from when they get their learner’s permit. They check tools. Once they have operated jack once, no need to practice that again. A couple of drops of liquid penetrating oil (always kept in trunk). Loosen lug with vehicle’s tire iron, spray thread a bit, re-tighten with car’s tire iron/torque with my wrench. Do the same for every lug nut. (They also ensure the “key”, for locking lug nuts, is still in the bag with tire iron.) They also practice lowering the spare and checking pressure.

Insurance policy has roadside assistance added, but they are prepared for the cars, as I am for the motorhome. Needed to change motorhome flat 55 miles from a town, on a dead end ranch road. This 7 mile ranch road has 3 driveways and many days has no vehicles. It was in SW Texas, just 4 months ago. No cell service. Glad I was prepared (and glad it was in the morning on a relatively cooler day).