When planning an RV trip, whether you know it or not, the trip’s success depends upon your vehicle’s tires. Tires are important for safety reasons, but they can also be the difference between a stress-free trip and not making it to your destination at all.
Some knowledge and planning can help ensure you find the right tire for your vehicle. Here’s a look at the basic RV tire information you need to know:
You wouldn’t use the same tires from your car or SUV on a huge motorhome. Knowing that you have the proper tire and tire covers for your RV is a priority. If you use the wrong tire on your rig, you’re going to be facing some serious issues, and likely before you get very far down the road.
A blowout can ruin your trip fast, and getting the right tire can help reduce that risk. Check your owners manual for the proper tire type to use on your rig. Never make an assumption and only use what the manual recommends or a certified tire professional suggests. With that said, here are the tire types out there:
Passenger Vehicle Tires
These tires are designed for a comfortable ride and good grip on the road for a variety of weather conditions and road surfaces. The weight limit on these tires is considerably lower other types of tires, and generally, you should not use them on your RV.
Light Truck (LT) Tires
These tires accommodate heavier loads with reinforced sidewalls. The design supports good traction on the road and the tires can handle heavy loads. This type of tire is a lot tougher than regular passenger tires, but they usually aren’t the best option for trailers.
LT tires are suitable for a variety of RV applications, but you need to be sure that the LT tires that fit on your vehicle are rated properly when it comes to load capacity. If the tires you choose can’t handle the weight, you will have serious issues.
Also, most LT tires are rated for a maximum speed of 75 mph. If the tire can handle speeds higher than that, it will be expressed.
Special Trailer (ST) Tires
The characteristics for these tires differentiate them from other tire types as they are designed to offer a durability level that accommodates seriously heavy loads and the rigors of tires attached to a trailer axle. They’re designed specifically for trailers and should only be used that way.
Also, most ST tires are only rated for 65 mph top speed. Some are rated for higher speeds, but that rating will be expressed. If there’s no speed rating listed, assume 65 mph is the fastest you should go. If you do exceed the recommended speed, you will hurt the longevity of the tire and could experience a blowout.
On every tire, you will see a numeric code that reflects the maximum load capacity recommended for the tire. Always know what tire load capacity is recommended for your RV and do not exceed it. If you do exceed that capacity, you could experience a blowout. Where’s the best place to find the rating suitable for your RV? Your owner’s manual.
Your RV’s owner’s manual should have the proper load capacity per tire listed. This makes it easy when shopping for new tires. You either meet or exceed the load capacity listed in the manual.
It’s important to note that this number should be related to your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The GVWR is the most weight the RV can carry at any time. This includes the water in your tanks and all the clothing and gear you bring with you.
If, for example, your owner’s manual lists a 3,500-pound GVWR, then your tires need to be able to meet or exceed that weight (you should try to exceed that weight to be on the safe side).
If you have a travel trailer with a single axle and a single tire on either side of that axle and it has the 3,500-pound figure used above, you should buy a tire that has a load capacity of at least 1,800 pounds. That’s 1,800 pounds per tire. That means, combined the two tires could support up to 3,600 pounds. (Just to be clear, these numbers are based on nothing real and are only for the sake of simple math.)
The tire size is also something you need to pay attention to. Proper RV tire sizes will be printed in your owner’s manual and will also be included on the side of your current tires. The proper size is listed as something like ST225/75D16.
In this example, the ST is the tire type and stands for Special Trailer. The 225/75 means the tire is 225 millimeters wide and has a height ratio of 75 percent. The D means it has a bias ply construction, and the 16 is the interior diameter (the part of the tire that the wheel fits into).
Your owners manual may have a couple different acceptable sizes listed. Any size listed in the manual should work fine. However, just because a tire fits on your rig, doesn’t mean it’s properly rated for the weight of your RV. Double check that a tire you’re considering has the proper size and proper load capacity before trying to use it on your RV.
Proper inflation is key to getting the most out of your tires. An improperly inflated tire can’t carry its maximum load capacity, could hurt your rig’s efficiency going down the road, or even cause a blowout. Overinflating or underinflating your tire is never a good idea, and either condition could spell disaster for your rig.
Check your tire pressure before every trip and keep in mind that temperature changes and changes in elevation can impact your tire pressure. A good rule of thumb is to add a tire pressure check to the pre-drive checklist that you go over before you leave on a trip and before you depart from a campsite.
Go to a Professional
With the wide variety of tires out there and the weight and size concerns, we highly recommend going to a professional tire expert for your RV tire needs. They will be able to ensure you receive good service and get you the tires you need.
You should also make sure you know some of the basic specifications recommended in your owner’s manual. That way if the tire specialist suggests a different tire, you can ask why. Understanding the reasons behind certain tire choices can help you better understand your rig and how it operates.
Camping World’s service department is happy to provide you with the help you need when it comes to your RV and its tires. Stop in and let one of our service technicians help you.
What tires do you use on your RV? How did you come to use them? Leave a comment below.