With the camping season soon coming to an end, it's time to get our travel trailer ready for winter.
I start with the roof, then work my way down. A quick inspection before winter is a good idea. That way, I'm sure there are no problems that need attention before the rain and snow. And then I glanced down at the tires. And I realized that, beyond keeping them inflated, I haven’t done anything with the tires for a couple of years.
Travel trailer tire maintenance isn’t glamorous, but it’s important. And my inspecting them was way overdue.
Understanding Travel Trailer Tires
At first glance, a travel trailer tire looks like any other tire. But there are many differences between a car or truck tire and a travel trailer tire. In this article, we’ll cover all things about travel trailer tire maintenance.
The Importance of Proper Tire Inflation
Like any other tire, inflation is key to safety, performance, and tire life.
A couple of years ago, I replaced the tires on my truck. When I left the tire dealership, I noticed the truck wasn’t as responsive. When turning, it felt like it was wandering. When I checked the tire inflation, I found the tires underinflated by 20 pounds. So I called the dealership to find out why they underinflated the tires. They said they underinflated the tires to improve performance in the snow.
Contrary to what the dealership thought was a good idea, underinflated tires overheat. They can also carry less weight. And they hammer fuel economy. But overinflated tires give a rough ride, and they have a higher risk of a blowout. And instead of providing more traction, overinflated tires provide less traction.
How to find the correct tire pressure
Tire manufacturers include on the sidewall of their tires the recommended inflation. And they include other valuable information. You can find the month and year of the tire manufacturing date, the load rating, and the speed rating. And they include the number of tire plys. This is valuable information to help ensure you have the right tires for your travel trailer. And it helps when you replace the tires on your trailer.
Travel Trailer Tire Inspection
It is critical to check the air pressure in the travel trailer tires before each trip. It’s best to do it when it’s cooler outside.
Keeping an eye on tire pressure while traveling
A good way to monitor tire pressure while driving is with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). While it won’t detect a sudden blowout, the TPMS will indicate if your tire pressure is low. If you worry while driving about a trailer tire failure, a TPMS is a good investment.
Travel Trailer Tires: Visual Inspection
Before we leave our home or campground, I like to do a quick visual inspection of the tires. By doing this, I was able to catch abnormal tire wear in two of our tires in our new travel trailer. After talking to the manufacturer, we found they had installed the wrong axles. If I hadn’t checked the tires, this could have ended in a disaster.
This is also a good time to check for tread depth and side wall condition. On one of our RVs, we had a tire sidewall fail. The first clue was a bulge in the sidewall. A quick look at the tire was all it took to find the bulge.
Maintaining Your Travel Trailer Tires
Most people use their travel trailer once or twice a year. And they drive less than 500 miles pulling a trailer. It’s easy to forget to rotate their trailer’s tires. As a general rule, rotate the tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. By rotating the tires, they will wear better and last longer. At the same time, have the tire balance checked.
When Is It Time To Replace Your Trailer’s Tires?
After inspecting your trailer’s tires, there are three things to check.
- Check how much tread you have left. Using a penny, measure the depth of tread on the tire. Hold a penny so that it faces you with Lincoln’s head down. Place the penny in the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.
- Check for cracks, separations, cuts, penetrations, or bulges. If you aren’t sure about the extent of damage, you should have a tire professional check it.
- Check the tire to see the manufacturing year and month. If the tire is 5 to 7 years old, it’s a good idea to replace it even if there is plenty of tread left. Rubber breaks down over time, and tires become more susceptible to failure.
A Few Final Thoughts
- Check lug nuts at 100 miles after a tire change to ensure they are tight.
- I carry a small floor jack in case a tire goes flat. Having a floor jack makes it easier to change a tire.
- The sun’s UV rays are hard on a travel trailer’s tires, so having a set of tire covers helps prolong the tire’s life.
We love the outdoors, and being able to camp for a week or two is a great way to explore a new part of our country. And being able to spend time in a travel trailer is fun and comfortable. But getting the trailer from one place to the next needs to be safe. Safe traveling means making sure the travel trailer’s tires are properly inflated. They aren’t damaged. And have enough tread to avoid a tire failure.
After doing a quick tire check, go out and enjoy our great country one campsite at a time.