Tire blowouts can be more common on RVs than on “standard” vehicles for three reasons:
- RVs typically carry more weight than cars. Additional weight puts more stress on tires.
- RVs are often used for long journeys. This can cause a buildup of heat, and therefore pressure, in tires.
- The variation of terrain that RVs are often driven on (sometimes in a single day) means that matching the right terrain with the vehicle can be challenging.
Since tire blowouts can be disastrous, particularly if they happen somewhere remote, here are the ways that you can reduce the chances of your RV (motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer) suffering a tire blowout.
Do not overload your vehicle
The more weight put on your tires, the more likely they are to fail.
While RVs are designed to carry more “additional weight” (weight that is not built into the vehicle itself) than a standard car, there are still limits to what any vehicle can carry before its tires become prone to blowing out.
You can discover the maximum weight that your RV can safely carry in its vehicle manual. The figure that you want to look at is the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This refers to the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can carry including passengers and cargo.
If you are worried that your vehicle is overweight, then you can weigh it at a truck weighing station. These tend to be dotted along highways. A quick Google search should show you your nearest one.
Ensure that your tires are fully inflated
Underinflation is the most common cause of tire blowouts.
Typically, vehicles lose 2 PSI of tire pressure for every 1,000 miles traveled. This can be higher for RVs since they are heavier than most other vehicles.
It’s generally recommended that you should check your tire pressure every 30 days. If you’re traveling long distances most days then this should be done weekly. You can obviously check the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge, but for regular RV travelers, we highly recommend a tire pressure monitoring system. This will automatically warn you when your tires fall below their recommended inflation levels. At 25% underinflation, your tires are twice as likely to suffer a blowout as they are if they are fully inflated, so an automatic pressure monitoring system is well worth the investment.
Watch the video below of our tire pressure monitoring system.
You can usually inflate your tires at most gas stations, but it can get a little tricky with a large RV. We recommend purchasing a VIAIR Compressor to keep with your RV. That way you’ll have it with you no matter where you are, in a campground, boondocking, or on the road. If you know that your tires need inflation, it may be worth calling up nearby gas stations on your planned route to find out if they offer this. Google Map profiles are not always updated that regularly and are therefore unreliable for finding out this information.
The only time that you might want to be riding on underinflated tires is if you are driving on dirt or grass roads. Underinflated tires offer you a bit more give when it comes to bumps, and therefore can protect your suspension on unpaved roads. That being said, this should only be done if you are driving on off-road tires.
Take regular breaks to avoid overheating your tires
As you drive on tires, the friction causes the inside of the tire to heat up. This causes the pressure in the tire to increase.
If this pressure builds up too far, then tires can literally “burst” on the road.
Tires are designed to be able to withstand pressure above their recommended inflation levels, so overheating to the point of blowing out can only happen in a few, relatively rare, circumstances. These are:
- Driving at a high speed (over 70 MPH) for more than four hours straight.
- If a tire has been driven off-road for more than one hour (far more friction is generated during off road driving).
- If you are traveling during a hot day (over 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Taking a one-hour break can allow your tires to cool off to the point where they can be safely driven on without risk of a blowout if you ever find yourself in one of these two circumstances.
Choose the correct tires for your terrain
Different tires are designed for driving on different terrains. If tires are driven on the wrong terrain, then they can cause too much friction which can lead to shredding, burning or blowing out.
Here is a quick list of the best tire to use depending on the terrain that you will be planning to drive on:
- If you are planning on driving almost exclusively on freeways then go for low rolling resistance tires. These offer the least amount of grip necessary for driving on these types of roads, thereby reducing the friction which can contribute to blowouts.
- If you are driving off road, then use 10-12 ply tires. These tires have additional layers that make them more durable when being driven on uneven surfaces.
- If you are driving on a combination of terrains then go for all-terrain tires.
Watch out for signs of dry rot in your RV’s tires
Over time, tires lose their moisture and become dry and brittle. Tires in these conditions are more prone to blowouts due to reduced elasticity.
The dry rotting process is sped up when tires are not driven on for an extended period of time. It is therefore particularly prone to happening in RVs that you only use in certain seasons every year.
Signs of dry rotting include:
- Developing a greyish colour that does not come off when tires are cleaned
- Visible cracks appearing on the tread and sidewall of the tire
- Tires becoming very hard to the touch and losing their “rubberiness”.
If you notice this, then take your RV to the mechanic to get your tires checked out. Early-stage dry rot is treatable, but after a certain level of degradation, you will need to replace your tires.
Dry rot is more common in hotter climates, so be more vigilant of this during summer.
You have a lot riding on your tires. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your lives or belongings. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations and the tips in this article to ensure your tires are in tip-top shape.