Many RV owners take their tires for granted. Maintaining your RV and trailer tires is essential to your RV maintenance duties. But what happens when it comes time to replace your RV and trailer tires?
Equipping your RV with the right tires comes down to several factors. Each RV manufacturer recommends metrics and measurements to help you choose properly-rated tires for their RV and travel trailer models.
Because tires are the foundation of your RV, here’s everything you need to know about RV tires and trailer tires.
How Long Do RV Tires and Travel Trailer Tires Last?
Because most motorized and towable RVs are driven less than passenger vehicles, their tires tend to last between three and six years on average. The more you drive, the more frequently you’ll need to replace your tires.
The tread wear is the metric to monitor over your tires’ lifespan. When that tread falls below a depth of 4/32”, it’s time to replace your RV tires. But even if your tires have plenty of tread left, keeping them for more than 8-10 years is not recommended.
Most RV and travel trailer tires should be replaced every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. But each manufacturer recommends a service life for their tires, so it’s best to seek their advice on tire replacement intervals.
RV tire covers can protect your tires from UV exposure, dry rot, and other wear and tear that can shorten your tire’s lifespan. Even if you aren’t driving your recreational vehicle a lot, leaving your tires exposed to the elements will decrease their serviceable life.
How to Change an RV Tire
Blowouts happen, so if you find yourself needing to swap a blown RV tire for a spare, you’ll need the following tools:
- Spare tire
- Bottle jack rated for the weight of your trailer
- DO NOT USE your RV’s built-in hydraulic or stabilizing jacks to lift your RV.
- A lug wrench or torque wrench
- Impact driver with the correct size socket for wheel lugs
- Wheel chocks
- Tire gauge
- Tire inflator or air compressor with the appropriate fittings
With those tools in hand and your RV parked in a safe location, follow these steps:
- Retrieve your spare tire.
- Place wheel chocks in front and back of tires you aren’t changing to keep your RV from moving.
- Use your lug wrench to loosen all lug nuts holding the tire in place.
- Place the bottle jack under your RV’s frame.
- Extend the bottle jack until the tire is completely off the ground. If the tire is blown, you need to extend it high enough for the inflated spare tire.
- Use your impact driver and socket to remove wheel lugs.
- Remove the blown tire and set it aside.
- Center the spare tire on the lug threads.
- Replace wheel lugs by hand (at least get them started by hand to avoid cross-threading).
- Initially tighten lug nuts with the impact driver.
- Retract the bottle jack to lower the tire onto the ground.
- Tighten lug nuts entirely with your torque wrench. All manufacturers recommend lug nuts be tightened to a specific torque setting.
- Use your tire gauge to check the pressure in your spare tire.
- If necessary, inflate your tire to the recommended PSI.
- Remove wheel chocks.
- Store the blown tire safely until you find a tire or service center to acquire a new spare.
- Store all your tire-changing tools.
Driving your RV without a spare in tow isn’t recommended. If you’ve had to install a spare, you should replace the original tire as soon as possible before continuing on your RV road trip.
How to Change a Trailer Tire
This process is largely the same for travel trailers. But there are a few additional pointers to remember. Follow the same steps as above, with these safety tips in mind:
- Ensure your trailer’s stability. Even if your trailer is hitched to your tow vehicle, you should place wheel chocks in front and back of the tire(s) you aren’t changing to prevent the trailer from shifting and potentially falling off your bottle jack. You may consider extending your trailer’s stabilizing jacks once your bottle jack is extended. This provides a backup to keep your trailer elevated if the bottle jack fails or slips out of place.
- Inspect the wheel hub after removing the old tire. This should be done for RV and trailer tires. Visually inspect the hub for cracking, buckling, or other signs of damage. If you notice any major signs of damage, contact roadside assistance before moving your RV.
- Find a replacement spare. Don’t travel far without a spare tire for your travel trailer or fifth wheel. Tires for smaller trailers can be harder to come by, but contacting your nearest Camping World Service Center is a good place to start when looking for the best trailer tire providers in your area.
How Much Are RV Tires?
Tire prices fluctuate depending on size, brand, weight capacity, and quality. But the average RV tire costs somewhere between $250 and $300.
Tires for Class A RVs tend to be more expensive than car tires or tires for Class C RVs because they are larger and heavier. Owners of Class B RVs will usually pay less per tire because they require smaller and lighter tires, but your cost may be higher if you decide to invest in higher-quality tires made for off-roading.
How Much Are Trailer Tires?
Most travel trailer tires are smaller than tires for motorized RVs. Their average cost is likely to fall between $100 and $200. But, of course, that cost can fluctuate depending on the exact brand, tire size, load range, tread pattern, and construction you’re looking for.
How to Identify RV and Trailer Tires
Trailer tires are usually identified by an ST or LT rating. ST stands for ‘special trailer tire,’ and LT stands for ‘light truck’ tires These ratings will be at the start of the tire’s label, such as ST 205/75 D14. Here’s a quick breakdown of the rest of that label:
- 205 denotes the tire width measured in millimeters.
- 75 states the tire’s height-to-width ratio (i.e. height = 75% of width in this case).
- D stands for ‘diagonal’ but also denotes a bias ply tire (R would denote a radial tire).
- 14 tells you the tire’s diameter in inches.
Radial or Bias Ply Tires?
Many RV owners don’t know they have options regarding the types of tires for their RV or travel trailer. Radial tires are more common, but bias ply tires are a reasonable alternative for certain uses. Here are some quick definitions:
- Radial tires are built with steel belts inside the tire running at a 90-degree angle to the tread center line.
- Bias ply tires are constructed with nylon belts running at a 30 to 45 degree angle to the tread center line.
The general consensus is that radial tires provide a smoother ride, less trailer bounce and sway, longer tread life, wider footprint, tougher overall construction, and the ability to run cooler.
Bias ply tires are generally less expensive and offer stronger sidewall construction. They also have the advantage when it comes to carrying heavy loads, as they offer a uniform number of plies to support weight in both the tire’s tread and sidewall.
The best tire type for your trailer is indicated on your trailer’s information label (D = bias ply, R = radial). Generally, radial tires are recommended for trailers used regularly for longer trips. Bias ply tires are recommended for tandem axle trailers used for shorter, less frequent trips.
What PSI Should My RV Tires Be?
RV tires have their maximum pressure stated on the tire’s sidewall. This maximum pressure should never be exceeded. That said, the RV manufacturer will usually state the recommended tire pressure for your RV, not necessarily the tire manufacturer.
The RV manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure rating can be found on your vehicle information label or in your owner’s manual. But it’s important to recognize that this pressure rating is for cold tires (i.e., when your RV or travel trailer has been parked for at least three hours).
Should Trailer Tires Be Inflated to Max PSI?
The dangers of over-inflating trailer tires include more difficulty braking and a higher likelihood of tire blowouts. Over-inflated tires also wear out quicker, don’t provide as much traction on wet roads, and can alter your fuel efficiency.
To avoid over-inflating, fill your tires to their recommended pressure when they are cold. As the air temperature inside your tires increases, the pressure also increases.
What to Park RV Tires On
While RV tire covers reduce tire wear and tear, you can keep your tires healthy by parking on friendlier surfaces. Using leveling blocks or tiered tire ramps helps you level your RV right the first time and gets them up off unforgiving terrain.
Your RV’s leveling system also reduces pressure on RV tires when you’re parked. If you’re leaving your RV in long-term storage, follow these tips for maintaining your RV tires while in storage.
Do Trailer Tires Need to be Balanced?
The standard for travel trailer ride quality differs slightly from passenger vehicles. Trailers and fifth wheels are designed to carry cargo and equipment instead of passengers.
That being said, regularly balancing your trailer’s tires can improve performance, increase your tire’s lifespan, and ensure the safety of your trailer and its cargo. Unbalanced tires can create damaging vibrations and premature wear.
They will also heat up more rapidly, increasing the odds of a tire blowout. In the worst case, they can damage your axle bearing, damaging other nearby parts or allowing your wheel to come off when driving at high speeds.
Most trailer manufacturers recommend service intervals for tire balancing, but the industry standard recommends balancing your travel trailer’s tires every 3,000 miles.
What Are the Best RV and Trailer Tires? And Where To Buy RV and Trailer Tires…
Unfortunately, not all RV and trailer tires are created equal. Whether you need to replace blown tires or simply want to buy new RV tires, Camping World is here to help. Our service center locations can assist you in finding and installing the right tires for your RV, travel trailer, or fifth wheel.
And when discussing RV and trailer tires with a technician, these are some of the leading brands in the industry:
- Michelin: Recommended for motorized RV tires.
- Preferred models: XRV and XZE
- Vendor: American Tire Distributors & National Tire Wholesale
- Goodyear: Good options for motorized and towable RVs.
- Preferred RV Model: GY G670 RV series
- Preferred Trailer Models: Endurance and LT series – G614 Premium Trailer tire
- Vendor: Goodyear
- Carlisle: Good for radial trailer tires.
- Vendor: American Tire Distributors
- PowerKing: Popular on new units and for replacements for blown tires.
- Preferred Model: Trailer King tires
- Vendor: National Tire Wholesale
Buying tires from a reputable brand will give you extra peace of mind on your next RV adventure.
Ensuring the health of your RV or trailer tires is critical to your entire coach’s health and the health of your passengers. It will also limit the number of times you find yourself on the side of the road dialing for roadside assistance.
But no matter how much you prepare, the unexpected happens when you’re traveling. Explore Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance, and Extended Service Plans to ensure you’re covered and protected in the event of emergencies on the road.
And if you’re still learning the ins and outs of RV maintenance, check out our downloadable RV ownership and maintenance booklet!
Do you have any additional questions about RV tires or trailer tires? Share them in the comments below!