It seems like you can’t go onto any RV internet forum without seeing discussion after discussion about which toilet paper to use in RVs and what kind of chemicals to use in RV holding tanks. These debates go on and on and you would think nothing is more important than your potty. What always surprises me is that for every five or six threads on toilet paper and holding tank treatments, you might see one or two on RV tires.
I don’t understand that, because when it comes right down to it, tires are probably the most important safety factor when traveling in an RV. And when there is a discussion about tires it usually starts out the same way – somebody has old, weather-cracked tires on their motorhome or trailer and they are asking if they have to replace them, because the tread is still good.
Yes, you have to replace them. I don’t care if they only have 500 miles on them, if your tires are more than seven years old, or even if they are newer but are weather-cracked, you are an accident waiting to happen.
I’m always surprised how little attention so many RVers pay to their tires. We had a front tire blowout on Interstate 10 in west Texas at 65 miles per hour. The tire was only two years old and had less than 9,000 miles on it. Trust me, it’s not an experience you want to have. We were lucky to come out of it alive and with only minimal damage to our MCI bus conversion, the flying rubber chewing up an air line and an airbag. A Texas highway patrolman who came along while we were waiting for road service to bring us a replacement tire told us that just a week before, a motorhome had blown a front tire in almost the same place and both occupants were killed when it rolled.
A tip I learned when I took a heavy vehicle driving course in the Army a lifetime ago helped us avoid an accident when we had that blowout. Your first instinct is to get on the brakes and slow down, but that can kill you. It was a right front tire, and the bus immediately started swerving toward the right shoulder of the highway. I remember the instructor in that course so long ago telling us that in a situation like that, downshift and floor the accelerator. That goes against everything you think you should do, but it works. As soon as I went to a lower gear and stepped on the accelerator, the bus came right back around. Once I had it pointed in the right direction again I eased off on the throttle until I could get our speed down enough to safely pull onto the shoulder and stop. By then I think it was too late to worry about what kind of toilet paper or black tank chemicals we needed!
Check your tires. Check them often. Know how to read tire date codes. Get a good tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). But as good as any TPMS is, don’t get lazy and think that it will just automatically handle everything for you. Be proactive. Get a good tire pressure gauge and check your tires before every trip. Physically look at them, and that includes the inside duals, even if you have to get down on the ground to inspect them. Even relatively new tires can develop bulges, or separate, or come apart on you. Road debris can chew up a tire and you won’t know about it until it’s too late.
There is not a tire pressure monitoring system in the world that will tell you about that until after you have a problem. It’s up to you to put your eyes and your hands on your tires before every trip, and to check them when you make pit stops during the day. It only takes a few minutes, but it can add years to your RV’s life, and to yours.
When I have tire questions, my go to guy is Roger Marble, who runs the RV Tire Safety blog. Roger is a retired tire engineer and the guy really knows his stuff. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. Read his blog. I bet you learn a thing or two yourself.
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Thought For The Day – When somebody asks me what I did over the weekend, I squint and ask, “Why? What did you hear?”
We were replacing our batteries on our tire monitors before taking off out of Quartzsite AZ. Tom was airing up the tires then putting them back on one by one. He got to #4 and the pressure read 0. We couldn’t believe our eyes. This was an inner dual and without checking tires or having tire monitors we would never had known it was flat. The very large truck tire repair service came out, fixed the valve stem, it took 4 turns to tighten it up, and aired up the tires. Next day, yesterday, we pulled out, the monitor showed a slow leak. We drove slowly to the tire shop only 5 miles away on a 90 # tire and TBarfound the extension was the problem. Now no extension and 400+ miles later, no leaks, monitors reading, and thanks we listened to you and others about the importance of tire monitors.
Why do I get the feeling that all you’re trying to do in this blog is scare people so you can sell them new tires?
Damn, George, you figured out my scheme. One question, if I may. Where is the tire shop I supposedly own that I expect RVers to come to and buy my tires from?