By Russ and Tiña De Maris
One of the simplest and yet most critical RV maintenance issues is that of checking tire pressure. No matter how high or low the price of gas or diesel is, we all can stand to see less of the fuel pump. By keeping your RV and tow vehicle tires inflated properly, you can gain as much as a whopping mile per gallon in fuel economy.
But a lot more is at stake: Under-inflation is a leading cause of RV tire failure. An under-inflated tire is a tire that will run hot. Running hot leads to dramatic expansion, and sidewall blowouts often result. Tires are expensive, but losing control and blasting your motorhome into oncoming traffic can just ruin your whole day.
What’s the Proper Inflation Level? First check your rig owner manual – it will show the specific recommended tires and their inflation rates. Lacking that, read the data stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
How to Check Tire Pressure: Get a good tire gauge. RV tire expert Roger Marble recommends the Accutire MS-4021B digital tire pressure gauge which sells for about $12 at Amazon.com and at many RV and automotive stores.
CHECK YOUR PRESSURE with the tires COLD – that is, several hours after they were last driven on. Driving as little as a couple of miles can lead to erroneous readings. Read the tire pressure for each tire, and compare it to the recommended pressure. Write down the specific tire, and the difference between the actual pressure and the recommended pressure.
For example, the reading in our picture shows 64 pounds. The recommended pressure for this tire is 80 pounds, so the tire is 16 pounds low. So, in our case, we’d write down the specific tire, and that it needs 16 more pounds.
Now drive to wherever you obtain air and, using your gauge, check the tire pressure again. Most likely it will read higher than when you started out. ADD the precise number of pounds each tire was low – even if this might appear to “over pressure” the tire. Tire readings are all based on “cold pressure” and allowances are made for road heat.
NEVER deflate a hot tire to bring the pressure down “to what it should be” – just test them COLD and adjust as needed.