RV Tire Safety: Things to do with your RV while not traveling

4

with RV tire expert Roger Marble

Yeah, it’s really a pain to not be able to enjoy our RVs. But there are a couple of “projects” that may make life a bit better down the road:

• Tire inspection
• Recording your DOT serial
• Testing your TPMS
• Reading to increase your general tire knowledge

Tire inspection. Here we are focusing on possible separations. This is a bit easier for trailers but also it may be more important for them because of higher separation rate. First off you need to be safe. This means ensuring the trailer or motorhome cannot move. It may be best to hook up the trailer to the TV and set the brakes. Motorhomes can use the parking brake and put the unit in gear. For either type of RV you should block the tires that are on the ground so the unit does not move. Not everyone will be able to do these steps, but if you can, here is what I suggest.

Jack up one end of one axle (motorhomes, this means one end of the front) You then want to place a reference bar or pointer or stick and then rotate the tire watching the space between the reference and the tire. Do this for the side of the tread and center of the tread. If you can see the relative movement of more than 1/4″ you have a suspect tire. Mark the location where the tire is moving outward. You might snap a picture where you can also read the words on the sidewall at the location of interest for future reference. You might even consider a 10-second video that shows suspect movement. I cover the general visual inspection and have a VIDEO in THIS post. I have a series of posts with more details on tire inspection HERE.

While trailer owners can do this for each of their tires, motorhomes are probably limited to just “spinning” the front tire and even then need a HD jack. Remember: If unsure or you do not have a solid surface to work on, or the proper tools, you may not want to do this rotating inspection.

If you have a suspect location you should contact your tire dealer. If you have a video, you can show them that. Since they can see the tire close up if necessary they are in the best position to confirm there is a problem or to say all is OK.

DOT serial number. If you haven’t recorded your full DOT serial numbers and kept that information with other important papers, this “downtime” might be a good opportunity when you have a nice weather day. Having this information might save you some time in the future if you hear there is a recall on your tire brand and size. Recalls are based on the DOT serial, and tires will be replaced for free if covered by a recall.

Testing your TPMS.  I bet almost none of you have tested your TPMS. This should be done at least once a year. Some afternoon when you have nice weather with your traveling companion in the driver seat AND when you have access to air of high enough pressure to top-off your tires, go to each tire and unscrew the external sensor and have the person in the driver seat let you know that they can see and hear the warning for each tire position.  You don’t even have to completely remove the sensor – just unscrew enough to hear air leaking out. As soon as the monitor in the cab sounds you can screw the sensor back in to stop the air leak. Once you know that every sensor works, you then need to go around and add back in the 5 psi or so that leaked out.

Doing this will also confirm you have your low pressure warning level set properly, as the warning should go off as soon as you lose about 5 psi. I cover my suggestion for setting your warning levels in THIS post.

Finally, with all the time on your hands, you might consider simply reading through all the posts on my RVTireSafety blog. I don’t expect you to remember everything, but I believe that if you have reviewed the entire blog you will then know where you can go to get an answer to just about any question you might have on tires, tire pressure, valves, TPMS, weight and inflation.

Be sure to sign up for the weekly RV Travel Newsletter, published continuously every Saturday since 2001. NOTE: By subscribing to RVTravel you will get info on the newest post on RV Tire Safety too. Click here.

 

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

 ##RVT943

 

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Ralph Pinney
5 months ago

I agree with checking the TPMS but I’m doing it more often.
Besides checking the low pressure alarm, you should be checking the accuracy. Set the tire pressure using a reliable gauge then see what the TPMS sensors read after replacing the sensors. They should be pretty close. If not, the batteries in the sensors may need replacing.

Roger Marble
5 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Pinney

Having done some controlled TPM sensor testing, Results can be reviewed here> http://www.rvtiresafety.net/2018/03/how-accurate-is-your-tpms.html
I would say that +/- 3% for pressure accuracy is the norm and IMO acceptable given that the intent of a TPM is to warn for pressure LOSS. Testing the pressure reading vs a hand gauge is OK but you will always get some variation as the slight “pfft” of air might put you just to the next lower reading i.e 80.0 to 79.5 and we do not know how the rounding works for the hand gauge or the TPMS. My test had no air loss and all sensors were at the identically same pressure and temperature on my test fixture.
BUT it’s good to know you have been confirming your sensors work. I have read some people complaining that their TPMS didn’t work but I am inclined to believe they may have never tested them or the warning levels were not properly set. https://www.rvtiresafety.net/2017/08/how-i-program-my-tpms.html

John R Crawford
5 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Pinney

My TPMS when on, flashes through all my monitored tires every few seconds so I know that each monitor is working. And if the pressure is still the same or close to it I’m satisfied.

Roger Marble
5 months ago

Yes John, you know the sensor is sensing but you don’t know if the low pressure part of the system is working.