Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

RV Tire Safety: UV protection for RV tires

By Roger Marble
This is a reprint of a post I did in 2014 on UV tire protection. The facts and data have not changed.

For some time I have been reading posts and advertisements about tire covers and UV protection. As an engineer I prefer FACTS over sales PR.

This investigation has taken more time than I originally wanted as I needed a reasonable way to measure UV and a day with full sun – not something easy to find in NE Ohio.

As they say, it all came together one day in April. While it was a cold 24°F last night and we had an inch of snow yesterday, it is bright and sunny today with only a little haze in the sky.

The test uses a Hawk2 UV meter. This unit is intended to help you judge how much sun you are getting while at the beach. But I felt it would serve my purposes as we are not trying to measure an absolute value in milliwatts per square centimeter. We’re just testing for a gross relative level of shielding of different materials used to cover tires.

If interested, you can learn more about UV HERE and more about the UV Index HERE.

I set up a test using my RV

As you can see, the UV of 6 years here in Ohio has pretty much destroyed the cheap vinyl side decoration. Anyway, the front tire has my normal white vinyl tire cover. Also, there is a standard blue tarp, a roll of window screen and some black cloth-backed vinyl similar to what is used in black tire covers.

I will show the meter readings for each “shield”

(Click any image to enlarge. Note the UVI is the bottom left number in the meter screen.)

Full sun gives a reading of 9, which is considered “HIGH”:In full shade, the reading is zero:Under the white cover the reading is zero:Even under the black cover the reading is zero:But the screen only reduced the UVI to level 5:

How I interpret the test results for UV tire protection

I interpret these results to indicate that anything that is not in direct sun or that shields all direct sunlight will provide adequate protection from UV damage for tires.

Don’t worry about reflected light going under the RV to the back side of the tires as that is full shade. After all, tires are designed to be outdoors and we are not trying to protect tires for 20 years. We’re only trying to get past a normal vehicle usage of 4 to 5 years to the 8- to 10-year range for many RVs. I would not consider open mesh as used in some “tire covers” complete protection. However, it is probably better than nothing.

NOTE: I did not address the effects of heat on tires in this post. I did cover it in THIS post, and that clearly shows that white covers are the ones to use if you want to keep your tires cooler so they age more slowly.

BOTTOM LINE
If you want to protect your tires to give them the longest life possible, you need to cover them with white solid covers. Cloth-backed vinyl would be the most reasonable option.

Have a tire question? Sign up for Roger Marble’s new Facebook Group: RV tire news, information and discussion, 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.

 ##RVT1006

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Joe
2 months ago

Roger, referring to the article “Roadside Assistance gave us the wrong tire”. How do I know if my class A diesel pusher has steerable tires on the front and load tires on the back? Also can I also have steerable tires all the way around?

Roger Marble
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

All tires can work on all positions if they are the correct size and Load Range B U T the performance may not be as good as you could get. “Load” tires is a bit of a misnomer as both Steer and Drive can carry the same load so you could call both “Load Tires” but then I don’t know what a “No-Load” tire would be. Front tires on Motorhomes are sometimes also called Steer tires as their tread design is optimized for steering and less noise, while the rear position tires may have a more aggressive tread design aimed at providing better traction in snow or mud. Because drive tires are always exerting the ‘drive” forces they tend to wear faster so many times they have a deeper tread pattern which makes them heavier and more expensive. Another trade-off for improved traction is the tire will generate more noise. If you had a drive design upfront, closer to the driver seat, you would probably get more noise from the tires. Many buses have a Rib or “Steer” design on all positions.

David Telenko
2 months ago

Hi Roger very interesting article! Today in RVT.com there was an article about “Roadside Assistance gave us the wrong tire – on purpose!” It was about a replacement tire & the tire guy brought the wrong tire, steer tire verses a road tire & they shall not be mixed! Could you please explain what the difference is!Thank you
Snoopy

George Paniagua
2 months ago

Thanks for your many informative articles.

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