By Roger Marble
Can you change a flat tire? Have you ever given this question much thought? Your answer will depend on your answer to a number of very important questions that need to be considered first.
Consider these questions about whether or not you can change a flat tire
1. Do you have a spare? A lot of RVs don’t have one. Their only option is to call a service and hope the service company has the correct size and Load Range (D, E, G, etc.) tire.
2. If you have a spare, is it inflated? Given the number of folks who seldom check the tires already on the ground, a majority simply forget to check the spare or don’t check because it isn’t easy to do.
3. If it’s inflated, do you have enough pressure to carry the load for the position where you are going to mount it? Your car or toad probably has the same pressure in all four tires, but your RV may have different inflation Front vs. Rear. You probably need to be sure you have the spare inflated to the max on the tire sidewall so you can bleed it down to the correct amount for the position.
4. Do you have the necessary tools? Wrench, sockets, long breaker bar, torque wrench, jack, jack stand, steel plate to support the jack, safety warning triangles, flares, safety vest, and lighting to see what you are doing in the dark? How about waterproof tarp to sit/kneel on while doing the job? The steel plate needs to be big enough to support the jack if you didn’t park on a hard road surface.
5. If you think you have all the correct tools, have you made sure by actually unbolting a wheel?
6. Do you have the strength to loosen and retighten the nuts? Have you ever actually tried to loosen all the lug nuts? Do you know the torque specs? Do you have a torque wrench that is big enough for your RV? I have a full toolbox and air impact wrenches in my shop, but I doubt I could loosen the nuts on a Class A. Just watch the first 45 seconds of this sales video and ask yourself if this would be you? Note: I am not endorsing that product. I just liked watching the guy jump on his wrench.
One other thing to consider. If the nuts have been on for a few years, there is a good possibility it will take much more than the OE specs to loosen. I have broken Craftsman and SK sockets on passenger lug nuts because they were put on too tight.
7. Finally, do you have the strength to lift the tire and wheel to get it on the wheel studs? A 22.5 tire and wheel is more than 100 pounds.
I suggest that if you think you are going to change your own tire, you need to do a few things.
READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL and be sure you understand what you are about to do. This job is definitely NOT for everyone.
1. Pick a nice day. With the RV level, wheel chocks in place, and the jack stand on a hard surface, first just see if you can loosen all the lug nuts and then re-tighten to the factory specs. Don’t do just one nut or one wheel, but do them all. I also suggest you just loosen and tighten one nut at a time for safety’s sake, as we don’t want to have the wheel pop off the RV when loaded. Be sure to have someone around watching, just in case.
2. See if you can move the spare out of storage and get it back into storage again.
3. Remove an outer tire and the inner dual and put it back on again, as this isn’t the same as doing a front single.
4. Most important: Be sure you clean the threads and torque the nuts to proper specs. I find that WD-40 is good on the threads and does not mess up the torque spec. You do need to know the spec for the torque of the lug nuts. It may be as low as 75 Ft-Lbs or over 150 Ft-Lbs, depending on the vehicle.
5. Ask yourself if this is something you want to do while at the side of an Interstate in the rain—at night.
If you don’t feel up to the job, you will need to plan on having a service do it.
If you don’t have a lot of space for a spare tire mounted on a wheel, you might consider having a used tire of the correct size just in case the service company doesn’t have your size. When informed, most can do a tire change for you. You will save some big bucks too. You can always pack stuff inside the tire while stored, if there is no wheel.
Finally, be sure to check the air on the spare every month, even on your toad.
Please be safe if you decide to do this job. If you haven’t changed a tire for a few years, have an experienced person with you, just in case.
Have a tire question? Ask Roger on his new RV Tires Forum here. It’s hosted by RVtravel.com and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.