Determining the longevity of your RV’s tires can be complex because there are numerous factors that need to be considered. Weather can cause damage to your tires as can overuse and underuse. Corrosives such as salt and sand mixtures many road maintenance crews use during the winter can cause damage as well.

As a rule, RV tires can last anywhere from three to eleven years before they need to be replaced. It really just depends on how many miles you put on them and as I said before, the weather conditions to which they are exposed.

Photo credit: Napa Online

One of the most common issues with RV tires is called weather checking. This deterioration occurs most often when your tires are exposed to ultraviolet light for longs periods of time with little to no use. In other words, leaving your RV dormant for long periods of time while the tires are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight can be just as damaging to them as driving on them until the tread is worn below the manufacturers recommended guide for your tires make and model.

What can I do to avoid weather checking?

There are several ways to avoid weather checking or dry rot on your RV’s tires. The most obvious solution would be to keep your RV stored indoors to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. However, given the size of many RVs this can be problematic as most people don’t have a building large enough to keep a trailer or motorhome garaged and out of the elements when not in use.

Another good way to avoid checking is to apply a tire coating and protectant every couple of weeks when your tires are exposed to long periods of sunlight. This will help to keep your tires looking new as well as helping to keep them sealed which will keep them from cracking over time.

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303 Tire Coating & Protectant - Sling-Free Formula...
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Additionally, purchasing a good set of wheel and tire covers are another way to prolong your RV’s tire life. Be sure not to purchase covers that are too inexpensive as they we be subject to dry rot just as easily as your tires. I also don’t recommend purchasing black wheel covers as they will absorb UV rays whereas white covers will reflect the heat and UV rays and are likely to last longer over time.

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Classic Accessories - 80-222-162302-00 Over Drive...
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Understand your RVs tire inflation

Keeping your RV’s tires properly inflated will help to extend the life of your tires as well. Whether it’s your towable camper, your tow vehicle or motorhome, proper tire inflation is also a key to your tire’s longevity. Under inflated tires will cause undo wear on the outside of your tires and over inflated tires will cause unwanted wear to the center of your tires so these factors can cause your tires to need to be replaced sooner than what you would expect if they were always properly inflated.

You can use a tire gauge like the one below or a tire pressure monitoring system to measure your tire pressure. If you need to inflate your tires while you’re camping, make sure you have a good air compressor as well.

Tire Gauge - (0-100 PSI) Heavy Duty Tire Pressure...
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Tire Gauge - (0-100 PSI) Heavy Duty Tire Pressure...
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Are your tires suitable for the weight of your RV?

I have spoken about this in other columns, but too often RV manufacturers use cheap tires on new RV models. While they do follow the guidelines set forth by the National Transportation and Safety Administration (NTSA), in my opinion they tend to skimp on the quality of tires for a towable RV because they base your tire size on the weight of your RV when it comes off the assembly line.

This means that once you have added additional weight to your RV such as clothes, small appliances, outdoor furniture, dishes and numerous other items you may want to bring with you on your camping adventures will all affect the overall weight of your camper. In short, be certain to make sure that your tires are adequate for the total weight of your rig. Frankly, I always recommend that when purchasing a new RV, that you immediately upgrade your tires to the final weight of your camper to avoid a blow out while driving down a busy roadway which could lead to an accident-causing physical harm and damage to your rig.

Always inspect your tires sidewalls

Whether it’s a towable or a motorhome, always keep a close watch on the sidewalls of your tires. If you discover a bulge in your tire’s sidewalls, replace them immediately as a bulge indicates that the radial bands on the inside of the sidewall have separated and this separation will put undo pressure in a small area which will lead to a blowout of the tire eventually and it’s usually likely to occur when the tire is hot from driving down the road at higher speeds. Be sure to do this inspection is you have rubbed your tires along a curb too.

Check your tire’s tread thickness

The more you travel, the quicker your tires will need to be replaced because the tread will wear out over time. Be sure to read your tire manufacturers guide to determine when they have reached their usefulness and replace them as needed.

Another good idea for checking your tires and making them last longer is to be sure your trailer is towing properly. Sometimes your trailer axle will be slightly askew, and this will cause your trailer to “dog leg” slightly when it’s being pulled down the road. This will cause undo wear to the tire treads too. To check for this issue, hook your trailer up to the tow vehicle as you would normally and either you or someone else should follow behind it on the road to make sure it is towing straight and correctly.

Final thoughts

There are numerous factors to consider when trying to determine the longevity of your tires. To me the most important factor is how often you use your rig and how well you maintain your tires. I’ve had tires that have lasted as long as 18 years because I kept them covered and maintained them properly. On the other hand, I have travelled full-time and simply wore them out over a much shorter period of time due to ordinary wear and tear. In a nutshell, always be sure to maintain your tires correctly, inspect them often and be sure to replace them as needed. To do otherwise, is to put yourself and others in danger while you are travelling down the highway.

As always, my friends, stay safe, stay healthy and maybe someday we’ll see each other out on the road.