RV and travel trailer tire maintenance is critical for safety on the road. Pre-trip maintenance, inspections, air pressure control and the ability to change flat tires are all important aspects of RV ownership. Tires are relatively easy to manage when you have a simple system and set of checks in place. Neglect however can result in flats and issues while traveling. Changing and replacing RV tires is much easier at a shop or at home than on a remote highway where services are limited.
Protecting Your Tires
The key to tire longevity is simple protection measures. Rotting from the sun and elements will ruin tires that could have a much longer life span. Clean and spray your tires with a protectant before leaving them to sit for a long period of time. Also, cover your tires with a cloth or vinyl protector that shields against UV rays. The sun will cause rotting, especially on tires that are sitting idle. Carry your covers to RV parks and keep them protected during longer visits as well. This simple act will keep your rubber in good condition for a very long time.
Your parking areas also have an impact on tire wear. For long term parking, choose a nice, dry area where water pooling will not build around the tires. If the only option is a wet piece of ground, go ahead and set up a ramp or pull up on boards to elevate the tires above the wet zone.
Pre-Trip Inspection Check
Before hitting the road, always run a visual inspection followed by a check on the tire pressure. The visual inspection involves a look at the condition of the rubber and tread. Travel trailer tires rarely require rotations but RV tires with different wear patterns are worth rotating or replacing if the wear is severe. Extreme wear will cause the RV to pull to one side and it can lead to a blow out on the road. Take your rig to a professional tire shop for an inspection if the wear patterns are extreme or you have any concerns about the integrity of your tires.
If the tires look good, go ahead and check the tire pressure to ensure they are all on the same level. The suggested pressure is labeled on the sidewall of most tire brands. Locate this information and use an air compressor at home or at a service station to adjust your pressure. All of the tires should have the same pressure reading before embarking on a long trip.
Changing a Flat Tire
Changing a flat tire is easy for the prepared and very difficult for those who are not prepared. You will need an appropriately sized lug nut wrench, a ramp or jack to elevate and change the tire and a spare tire that is in good condition. This process works for both RV’s and travel trailers.
When the tire goes flat, pull over to a safe parking place. Ideally, you will have a large shoulder or pull off that is also level. Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts before jacking or ramping the RV. When they are loose, drive forward or backward to place a good tire on the ramp while elevating the bad tire. You can set the parking brake and chalk the grounded tires to prevent rolling at this point. It’s extremely important that you are parked in a safe and stable position at this point.
Remove the lug nuts completely and pull off the flat tire and rim. Replace with a good spare and replace the lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts in a firm position using a star pattern. The pattern alternates and ensures they all snug up nicely. Move back off the ramp or lower the jack to place all wheels back on the ground. Tighten the lug nuts firmly at this point using the same alternating pattern.
After completing the tire change, drive to the nearest service station or tire specific shop to have the flat tire repaired and replaced. Spare tires will get you down the road a ways but should only be used to reach a repair station. If the RV or trailer experiences a flat in a precarious or dangerous position, do not replace the tire. Simply stop and utilize a roadside assistance service. They will help with the tire change or tow you to a station for repair. RV specific roadside assistance programs are well worth the small investment, especially when you have a blowout under difficult circumstances.