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RV Tire Tips from Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on Rving Today TV

Hi I’m Mark Polk of RV Education 101. Today, we’re gonna discuss one of the most important and possibly the most neglected components on your RV: your RV tires. The tires and the air that’s in the tires are what supports the entire load when you’re traveling. That’s why it’s important you inspect the tires and check the tire pressure before you leave on a trip. Here’s how you do it. Before we dig into all the tire inspection details, I want to offer some useful tips about RV tires and tire pressure.

Tip number one: tires lose air pressure when they sit in storage. Tires can lose up to 2 pounds of air pressure per month. If you don’t check your tires for three or four months, they could be seriously underinflated. Tip number two: you only check tire pressure when the tires are cold before traveling more than one mile. Hot air expands and gives you a false reading. If the tires are already hot from traveling, wait several hours before checking and adjusting the inflation pressure.

Tip number three: tires are designed and built to be used. The rubber used in tires ages faster when they are not used, so more use results in longer tire life. When tires are manufactured, compounds are added to help protect the rubber from weather cracking and sun damage, but the tire needs to be rolling down the road, heating up and flexing for these compounds to work their way to the surface of the tire and protect the rubber from damage. Okay, let’s start by talking about tire inflation pressure. This is a confusing topic, so my goal is to keep it as simple as possible. Let’s talk tire pressure. What air pressure do I run in trailer tires? The first thing you need to understand is all tires have load ratings, but a load rating for a tire is only accurate if the tire is properly inflated. 

It’s easier if you have a travel trailer because Goodyear says, “Unless you are trying to resolve poor ride quality problems with an RV trailer, it is recommended that the trailer tires be inflated to the pressure indicated on the sidewall of the tire. Trailer tires experience significant lateral, side-to-side loads due to vehicle sway from  uneven roads, turning, or passing vehicles. Using the inflation pressure engraved on the sidewall will provide optimum load-carrying capacity and minimize heat buildup.” With that said, you can look right here to locate the inflation pressure on the tire sidewall and simply inflate all the trailer tires to that pressure. 

Tire manufacturers also have what is referred to as load and inflation tables for the tires they manufacture. A more technical method for determining proper inflation pressure is to have the RV weighed, preferably by individual wheel position, and use the load and inflation table to determine the correct inflation pressure for the load. For example, let’s say the front axle weighs 4,000 pounds. If you divide that by two, each tire would need to be capable of supporting 2,000 pounds. Go to the tire manufacturer load and inflation tables, which for these tires is  the Maxxis ST tire load and inflation table. In this example, if I inflate the tires to 45 psi  they can support 2,020 pounds each. 

So there you have it, a couple of different ways to inflate the tires and handle the load that’s on the tires. Remember, always check the inflation pressure when the tires are cold for accurate readings. Something else that’s extremely important is to use a quality tire pressure gauge for accurate air pressure readings. You can invest in a $15 to $20 gauge like this one that works well, or you can purchase a portable air compressor with a quality inflation gauge. 

Now let’s talk about inspecting your tires. Visual inspection of tires. I mentioned earlier, when tires are manufactured, compounds are added to help protect the rubber from weather cracking and sun damage, but the tire needs to be rolling down the road, heating up and flexing for these compounds to work their way to the surface of the tire= and protect the rubber from damage. When tires sit in storage, they start to dry out, causing the tire to age faster. Weather checking or cracking happens when tires are exposed to heat, sunlight, and non-use. This is especially true of the tire sidewall. Inspect your tires or any weather checking or cracks in the sidewalls before each trip. If you notice damage to the tires and you are not sure what to do, have the tires inspected by a tire professional. The next thing you want to do is inspect the tires for signs of uneven wear patterns. On an automobile, wear patterns on both front tires can be an early indication of alignment problems. If only one tire shows signs of wear faster than the other, it might be a signal of something other than normal tire wear. Have these conditions inspected by a tire professional. Do not operate the RV with tires that show any signs of damage. Check the tread depth. Tires have what is referred to as tread wear indicators molded into the tread of the tire. When the tread gets down to the tread wear indicator bar right here, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. To check tread depth, you can use a penny or a tire tread depth gauge. Place a penny into the groove of the tire with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread depth is below an acceptable margin, and the tires should be replaced. Inspect the tires for other damage like foreign objects, cuts, or bulging. Have any damaged areas inspected immediately. 

Well, that’s a good start to your RV tire education. Remember, the only thing between the trailer weight and the road is the tires and the air that’s in the tires, so tires are at the top of your list of things to check
prior to an RV trip. For more information on using and maintaining your RV, visit Thanks for watching, and happy camping