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RV Tire Safety: Are you sure you can change a flat tire?

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.

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT1043

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Ramon Milam
6 months ago

I carry a DeWalt 1/2 ” drive 20v impact with a set of switch sockets. It easily removes the lug nuts on my Ram 3500. I have had to use it twice. I charge the battery every 6 months. The spare tire carrier tire removal and replacement is the tough part.

Ron T.
6 months ago

I changed an outside dual flat on our Class C on trip 12 years ago. I also took the front wheels off to get new tires on them six years ago. That said, if I absolutely had to change one I would, but we have AAA and roadside assistance through our insurer and I’d go that route first.

Walt
6 months ago

We own a 27ft. Lance and had 3 blowouts in 2021. Changing the tire was relatively easy using the piston jack from my Tundra. I always make sure all my tires are properly inflated. Our Warranty included blowout protection, so we got reimbursed from the Tire Mfg. I took numerous photos on each occasion which occurred over a 6 month period, this was mandatory to prove my situation. After the 3rd blowout, we just replaced the last two tires to be safe.
One of our blowouts occurred on an Interstate Hwy. We stopped to assess the situation, then stayed on the shoulder and drove 10 MPH to the next exit ramp with flashers blinking. Fortunately the exit was only less than 2 miles away. Once on the exit we pulled completely off the ramp in order to put on the spare tire.
A word of advice and caution! NEVER stop to do any repairs on a Hwy. I don’t care if I destroy my chrome rim. It is just way too dangerous to spend more than a minute or two just off the highway.

Bob M
6 months ago

Now that I’m getting older and just before I became a diabetic. I had to replace tires on a small dump trailer that the wheels were over tightened. I stepped on a breaker bar to loosen the nuts. Later that day my feet hurt for a couple days. I had a 2008 Toyota Tacoma with aluminum wheels and got a flat. Took all the lug nuts off and the rim wouldn’t come off. After about 15 minutes of kicking the tire wheel from the back of my heel . It came off, but I also hurt my leg muscle. Not sure if anyone had the same issue with Aluminum RV wheels. Had the same problem rotating the tires, but not as bad.

Wes A.
6 months ago

I have changed our blown inside tire on our class a diesel pusher. One advantage the motor home has is the air brake system, you can tap it to run air impact. It is very true you need extra tools to pull the inner dual ( the only flats we have had to date ). Also need to check tire height for rears not to damage the rear axle. We haul a spare tire on the back of the motor home in case we need it.