Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Truck camper owners: Check those rims!

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Truck camper owners, you pack a lot of weight in the bed of that pickup truck. With that in mind, there’s plenty written about the need for checking tires, knowing your load weight, and never, ever exceeding the load capacity of your tires. But there may be another area of concern that comes from this tale.

A truck camper owner got tired of the way his tires handled with his camper on board, so he switched out tires with a good weight rating. He tooled around nearly four years and 10,000 miles with the tires and never had a problem. Then one fine day he came home from a trip and unloaded his camper, and a quick inspection revealed cracks in his rear wheel (rim) spokes. Yep, that spot where the “arms” of the wheel connected to the outer rim of the wheel were decidedly – and dangerously – compromised.

The official language of wheel dealers reads like this: “The load rating of a wheel, as determined by the wheel manufacturer, must never be exceeded. Manufacturers identify a wheel’s maximum load rating and tire diameter by checking the back of the wheel or with the wheel manufacturer. If the load rating is not available the wheel should not be used on the vehicle.”

Have you “beefed up” your tires to handle the increased load of your truck camper? When you did, did you also check the weight rating of your wheels? Or maybe you were happy as a clam with your tires, but those OEM rims, “they just looked so lousy.” So perhaps you traded out for those fancy spiffed up alloy wheels. When you did, did you check the weight rating?

Well, here’s a bit more industry jargon: “Wheel load rating requirements are determined by dividing the vehicle’s heaviest gross axle weight rating by 2. The axle weight rating for most vehicles is shown on the identification label located on the driver’s side door jamb, gas tank door, truck lid or glove compartment.” That’s all well and good, but sometimes (and we won’t mention any names) some folks just can’t quite abide by the “ratings” and may just “push it a little bit.” We’re not asking for a show of hands, but if that applies to you, you may want to rethink your wheel load ratings.

Think that cracks in wheels are a passing fancy, another ploy of the “weight Nazis”? When he heard about the fellow we mentioned at the outset, another truck camper owner decided to inspect his wheels, too. You know it: He, too, found cracks in his rims. Put this one on your checklist – it could save your bacon, your truck camper, or the lives of your loved ones. 


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.