Every RVer needs to have a plan in the event of a flat tire or a blowout. Putting on your spare tire is the easiest way to get back on the road, but you’ll need to keep your spare tire healthy so it’s ready if you need it. An RV spare tire cover keeps your spare in good condition so you’re not replacing a flat or blown-out tire with a questionable backup.
Is your RV’s spare tire ready for action? When was the last time you looked at it? Do you have a spare tire cover for it?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to check on your RV’s spare. Before discussing the benefits of RV spare tire covers, here are some basic RV tire checks you should include in your regular RV maintenance schedule.
Basic RV Spare Tire Checks
- Check tire pressure using a tire gauge or tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Look for cracked or bulging sidewalls
- Check tire tread depth (below 4/32nds of an inch requires replacement)
- This shouldn’t be an issue unless your spare has been used before
- Clean tire and rim with warm water and a mild soap
- Check that a mounted spare tire is secured to your tire mount
- Check that the tire mount is secured to your RV
- Check tire age
Even if you have never used your RV’s spare tire, it is recommended to replace it if you notice signs of damage or your tire is more than 10 years old. Please check the original date of manufacture for most tires using the last four numbers in the Department of Transportation (DOT) stamp on the tire’s sidewall. The first two of these final four digits denote the week and the final two denote the year of original manufacture.
Also, please note that you cannot use spare tires from trucks, SUVs, or other small vehicles as replacement tires for your motorhome. A camper spare is made for the heavier weight of your coach and spares made for lighter vehicles should never be substituted for an RV spare.
Why You Need An RV Spare Tire Cover
RV spare tire covers may seem like a small or unneeded thing, but they will significantly increase the life of replacement tires. Here’s why.
Protection from Harmful UV Rays
We all know that the sun’s UV rays can be harmful to our skin, but those same rays wreak havoc on the condition of your spare tire, as well as the rest of your RV tires. Whether you’re actively using your RV or you’re trying to protect your tires while your RV is in storage, minimizing UV exposure is essential.
Over long periods of time, even the durable rubber that tires are made of will dry out. Prolonged exposure to sunlight is one of the major ways that this process gets sped up.
A dried-out, cracked, or dry-rotted tire should never be used as a spare. If you haven’t kept your spare tire in good condition, you are better off calling for a tow truck than risking the problems that come with installing a bad spare. You may get lucky and it may get you where you need to go, but it may also fail and cause bigger issues before you get there.
Putting a tire cover on your spare provides UV protection and minimizes sun damage so you can actually use your RV spare if the need arises. As an extra tip, consider the placement of your hitch spare tire mount and park your RV strategically to further reduce UV exposure.
Protection from Road Debris
Some replacement tires are mounted in such a way that they’d rarely be hit by direct sunlight. So if your spare is mounted, say, underneath your RV, do you still need to install a tire cover? It’s a smart idea to do so, and here’s why.
If your spare tire is mounted anywhere on the outside of your RV, it will be exposed to road debris as you’re going down the highway. Even if the street sweeper just came by, all roads have some amount of dirt, grime, and other debris flying around.
It’s very unlikely that any of this stuff will do immediate damage to your tire, but prolonged exposure to these conditions will certainly degrade the condition of your spare. A tire cover will protect your spare from all this nastiness and give you a clean and ready-to-go tire when you need it most.
Even if your RV’s spare is located inside an underneath storage compartment, cover it up. If it only ends up protecting your RV tire from dirt that gets tracked into those compartments as you take other camping gear in and out, it will extend your tire’s life. Plus, it can also provide protection against spills of cleaning agents and other liquids you may store underneath your RV.
Protection from Weather
Tires are pretty resilient, but inclement weather can have a negative impact on the condition of your spare tire. Over time, rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind, and other environmental factors can damage your spare tire if you leave it unprotected.
Moisture is perhaps the biggest enemy to your spare tire. And while rainfall in most areas is rather clean, phenomena such as acid rain can expose your tire to corrosive chemicals if you don’t put a waterproof tire cover on it.
A spare tire cover will protect your RV’s spare from many of the negative effects of rough weather. It will also provide you with some additional peace of mind to know you don’t have to check on your RV every time a storm rolls through your area.
How To Measure RV Spare Tire Cover
Spare tire sizes differ greatly from RV to RV, so finding the right RV spare tire cover starts with an accurate measurement of your tire’s diameter. Grab a measuring tape and measure your tire from top to bottom or left to right. It doesn’t matter which way you measure, but be sure you get the dimensions for the outside diameter of your tire (not the inside diameter of the tire or the diameter of the rim).
From there, you can start your search for RV wheel covers that match your measurement. Note that some spare covers are sold in sizes that fit a range of different tire diameters (such as 24-26 inches). Others, however, are designed for specific tire sizes (i.e. 27” or 29”).
Shop RV spare tire covers to find a model that fits your replacement tires.
RV Spare Tire Cover Buying Guide
Aside from size, there are several other things to consider when buying RV wheel covers.
Most RV owners go with soft fabric RV spare tire covers, but you can also find a molded RV spare tire cover made of hard plastic material. Or learn how to crochet an RV spare tire cover if you want to make a custom creation.
Soft spare tire covers are typically made with a heavy-duty, water-resistant vinyl exterior. Many include a flannel backing to provide a soft fabric up against the tire. These are the most common cover style for spares on RVs and travel trailers. If you choose a design from a company like Classic Accessories, you can also find a very affordable spare tire cover.
Hard RV wheel covers are typically made of rigid ABS plastic with some sort of soft, flexible band that allows for easy installation. These tire covers will be more durable and long-lasting, but they will also be more costly to acquire and, eventually, to replace.
Colors and Personalization
Aside from size and materials, you will also have color options that allow you to match your tire cover to the exterior of your RV. At the very least, you can match the color of your existing tire covers so you don’t have an oddball.
Additionally, spare tire covers allow you to showcase a little more flare than regular RV wheel covers. While regular tire covers are usually a single color, covers for your RV spare can include a fun message like Home is Where You Park It or Take Me To My Happy Place. You can even personalize some spare tire protectors to share your own unique message.
Finally, you’ll need to consider how a tire cover secures around your RV spare. Since this is the kind of cover you want to install once and count on it staying in place, look for a design with an elastic hem around the edges or buckled straps that keep it secure.
Ideally, you can find a cover that offers both of these security methods. So even if the elastic starts to stretch out over the years, the straps and buckles will keep your cover securely in place until a need for your spare tire arises.
Shop the tire cover selection at Camping World.
Protect your tires so they provide a safe and reliable foundation for all of your RV adventures. If you’re not already covered, consider adding a Tire and Wheel protection plan to your RV’s insurance coverage. And compare Good Sam Roadside Assistance plans to know you’re protected if you really get into trouble on the road!