Ultimate Buying Guide for RV Tires
Purchasing tires for an RV is a more complicated decision than buying a new set of wheels for your day-to-day vehicle. RV tires have to bear far more weight than a passenger vehicle's tires, and, as such, motorhomes use tires specifically designed for this kind of transportation.
In this guide, we will explore the difference in RV tires and how to know which type is right for you. Additionally, we will share some key tips for taking care of your tires and recognizing when it is time to replace them.
Choosing the Right RV Tires
Because your RV uses different tires than your passenger vehicle, it's important to check with your manufacturer's specifications for tires and rely on their engineering advice. Manufacturers will recommend different tire types based on the class of your motorhome — Class A, B, or C — and your RV's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
GVWR is the maximum amount of weight that your RV or trailer can bear when it is fully loaded with cargo, dry goods, all fluids, and passengers, plus the RV's weight. The tire you choose must have a GVWR higher than this total. If you are unsure of your GVWR, you can always have your trailer or RV weighed at a local CAT scale, often located at truck stops.
Now, let's take a look at the different styles of tires that you can compare when shopping for RV tires.
Special Trailer (ST) Tires
ST, or "special trailer" tires, are manufactured for use with travel trailers, specially built for the added weight of these trailers. These more 'towable' tires were specifically designed for the ability to perform well on trailers and fifth wheels. ST tires are designed to provide a smooth, low-resistance ride for a trailer to be pulled by a lead vehicle.
Because no power will be delivered to the tires, the design of the tire is less focused on traction, and more on ensuring the travel trailer has ample support for the weight of everything inside. These specially engineered tires use a design of cords and wires to offer extreme durability and strength and can aid in the stability of the trailer and decrease the chances of sway.
Good for: Fifth wheels, travel trailers, pop-up campers
Light Truck (LT) Tires
LT, or "light truck" tires, have thicker sidewalls and heavier-duty builds than normal passenger tires, which are made to flex and bend for a more comfortable ride. LT tires will maintain their shape to handle the increased heat of carrying a heavy load while adding comfort to the ride. LT tires are manufactured to produce more traction than ST tires and are generally the tire of choice under an axle that will be delivering power to the road, such as an RV.
Good for: Class A, B, and C RVs
Radial Tires vs. Bias Tires
Along with deciding between ST and LT tires, you'll have the option of choosing the way in which your tire was engineered.
Radial tires have steel belts that are manufactured to run at a 90-degree angle along the width of the tire. This engineering strategy allows the sidewall and treads to function independently. Functioning independently allows the tire to increase mpg, have better traction, and run at a cooler temperature than bias.
A bias tire is designed with multiple rubber plies crisscrossing each other at a 30-45 degree angle. This allows the entire tire to flex easily, allowing a smooth ride. They are generally less expensive and have thicker sidewalls which make them more resistant to sidewall punctures.
RV Tire Maintenance and Tips
There is an adage that states that "anything between you and the ground should be well taken care of." When it comes to the wheels beneath your RV, this is particularly true. Having a tire fail while traveling can cause damage to the undercarriage of your RV or trailer, strike other vehicles on the road, and can even cause you to lose control of your RV. A good set of tires is essential for your safety while traveling.
When inspecting your tires, pay careful attention to the following:
- Cracking or dry rotting: Even the smallest hairline cracks are a reason for concern. Tires showing this damage should be replaced immediately.
- Bulges and uneven wear: Any sort of imbalance in your RVs tire can cause vibrations, increasing the chance of a blowout. Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles can help promote even wear and extend the life of your tires.
- Tire size: Ensuring that the tires on your RV are the right size for your rig is important for steering, powertrain reliability, and even wear. Check your RV manufacturer's recommendation to ensure that your tires are the right size.
- Tire tread depth: Use a tire depth gauge to check the tread on your tires. Ideally, tires should measure above 4/32".
- Tire pressure: Tire pressure guides are often found in the door jam of the driver's side of your RV and should be followed precisely. Before you hit the road, measure the cold tire pressure to ensure it matches the manufacturer's recommendation.
- Tire weight load: Checking the weight of your RV or trailer against the weight load of your tire is essential for safe travel. If you have added significant weight to your RV, you can use a CAT scale to weigh your RV to ensure you're not exceeding the recommended weight limit for those tires.
- Age: Replace tires that are over 5 years old. Older tires increase the chances of flats and blowouts.
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to protect your tires is to do a visual and pressure check monthly, or more if you travel frequently. Clearing any stones or other debris that gets lodged in the treads can prevent damage to your tires while in motion. If you notice that your tires appear to be damaged, take your RV into the shop for a professional inspection right away.
Visit a Transwest Service Center
Our team is here to help make sure you have the right tires. Whether you need to replace a set of tires on your RV or have a professional take a look at your travel trailer's tires to make sure they are the right match for your needs.
Stop by a Transwest service center to learn more about keeping your RV tires in quality condition, or feel free to call our team with further questions.
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