Tires are an integral part of your RV’s mobility. Unless you want to permanently pack your RV on cinderblocks and never move it again, you have to keep them serviced and up to date.
If you don’t, your RV is not only unroadworthy but also a potential inconvenience at the very least. It will not get proper traction when driving, and the risk of a puncture is high. You can avoid all these misfortunes by replacing your RV tires as soon as they age.
It Depends on Age and Use
Like regular car tires, your RV tires have treadwear age and an actual year age. Treadwear age directly results from how often you drive hence how fast the tires get worn out.
Year age is a clock that starts ticking from when the tires were manufactured. The rubber compound in tires breaks down over time, getting brittle in a process referred to as dry rot. Once tires hit five years under normal environmental conditions, the rubber is too old to guarantee predictable function on the road.
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According to Michelin, you should replace your tires as soon as the cracks due to dry rot are deeper than 1/16 of an inch deep or just too much to worry you.
ProTip: Regardless of how much tread you have left, you should consider changing your RV tires as long as they are over five years old
Are My RV Tires Worn Out?
Tire wear rate varies depending on a wide range of factors. This makes it hard to estimate how long a tire will take to wear out. Some variables that determine how fast your RV tires wear out include:
- The weight of your RV
- The quality of your tires
- How many miles do you drive in a year?
- What surface do you frequently drive on?
- Do you take good care of your RV tires, like ensuring they are inflated to the proper pressure and well-aligned?
- What weather do you often drive-in?
- Are they winter, summer, or all-season tires?
Your tire tread is worn out if it is 2/32 inches or less deep.
A great way to tell how worn out your tire is by checking the tread depth or the wear marker. Here are the three most common tire tread wear tests
Do the Penny Test
If you don’t have the time to break out a caliper and measure your tread depth, you can easily estimate it using a penny.
- Insert a penny into the tread such that President Lincoln’s head is facing straight into the groove
- If you can see his entire head, the tread is lower than 2/32 inches deep, and it is time to replace
- Your tread depth is still within spec if the head is still covered.
Quarter Tire Test
If you have no access to a penny, you can still do a Quarter tire test. Insert a quarter into the tread groove. If the top of the treaded touches President Washington’s head, then you have at least 4.32 inches of tread remaining.
Observe the Tread Wear Bar
Nowadays, most manufacturers mold a tire tread wear bar indicator onto their tires. It is a horizontal bar cut at the Bottom of the most prominent grooves on your tires.
There will be a couple of them, and they are 2/32 inches high. If they are flush with the rest of your tire tread, it means your tire is worn out, and it is time to replace them.
ProTip: In most cases, your tires will hit the five-year-old mark and start succumbing to tire rot long before the tread wears out. Very few RVers use their rigs often enough to burn through tire tread that fast.
How to Get More Years from Your RV Tires
Taking some extra care of your RV tires could give you some extra life without compromising your safety on the road. The golden rules are:
- Roten your tires often
- Keep them properly inflated at all times
- Cover the tires when parked for long
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to extreme cold, high heat, and UV rays
- Keep your tires clean but avoid petroleum, silicone, or alcohol-based cleaners and shines
How to Prepare Your RV Tires for Long Term Storage
Usually, tires live their best when driven around often. Driving heats up and kneads a tire, which moves around protectant chemicals the manufacturer put into the rubber compound to reduce natural deterioration.
You will experience less tire rot and get more miles off your tires, which is a win-win. A loaded tire that doesn’t rotate often will age prematurely.
If you are parking your RV for over three weeks, these additional precautions could help you avoid faster tire deterioration.
- Park the RV in a cool, dry, and sealed storage area or garage
- If you are camping out in the open for long, find some tire covers and keep the tires covered
- Place some barriers between the tires and the ground. Use rubber floor mats, woodblocks, or plywood
- Ensure you have cleaned the tires thoroughly with soap and water only
- If your RV has built-in leveling jack stands, deploy them to take the weight off the tires. Loaded tires will age faster.
- Suppose you can’t get some weight off the tires. In that case, Michelin recommends inflating the tires to the maximum inflation pressure indicated on the sidewall instead of the inflation pressure your RV recommends. Remember to adjust when you hit the road.
Hit the Road as Much as You Can
Experts recommend against parking your RV for over three months in a row. Your tires won’t get the ‘workout’ they need to use their anti-oxidation additives fully.
Since RVs are the epitome of mobile life, you should try hitting the road with yours for at least an hour every three months.
Shoot for an hour on the motorway, driving at highway speed for the best results. Such a drive is also good for your engine and battery too.
Will Paying for Nitrogen Inflation Give Me Better Lifespan?
Many people pay a premium to get Nitrogen in their tires. While this makes sense in aircraft and massive earthmovers, no evidence inflating your RV tires with nitrogen will give you an upper hand.
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After all, the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen. The free air gives you a good percentage of that to start with.
You should be more worried about the compressed air system you use. Ensure that it is well maintained and that it dispenses dry air into your tires.