Tires are one of the most important—and often the most ignored– components of your RV. Maintaining your tires correctly and using the right tires for your RV will help to keep you from having to change a tire on the side of the road at best and a catastrophic blowout at worst.

On the tire there are a couple of series of letters and numbers. The first and biggest are the size of the tire, for example LT 235 85 R 16. Next is the Load Range, which means how much load the tire can carry, for example Load Range G. Load ranges vary: F is a 12 ply tire, G is a 14 ply, H is a 16 ply, and J is an 18 ply tire, and the higher the ply the more weight a tire can carry. On the rim of tire by the center are the letters DOT, meaning “date of tire”. After the DOT letters there will be either a series of letters and numbers or just numbers: if it has letters and numbers the last 4 numbers represent the date of the tire, for example XXXX2312. The first two numbers are the week and the last two are the year, so this tire was built in the 23rd week of 2012. If there are just numbers, example 2312, then this is the week and year. Some tires have the DOT information on both sides and some only have it on one side. In small letters on the tire around the inside edge is the tire pressure that the tire is rated for, for example “cold psi 110″. The only way to make sure you are running the correct pressure of air in the tire is to weigh your trailer by axel and then call the manufacture or a tire dealer and ask what would be the correct pressure based on your weight per axel.

Keep your tires at the proper inflation to avoid excessive wear or tire failure. Check the air pressure frequently, before a trip, periodically during the trip, and when the temperature changes, as temperature changes will change the air pressure. You can also purchase a tire monitoring system. Some of our customers recommend periodically moving an RV that is in storage in order to prevent ovaling of the wheels and developing a flat spot on the tire from being pressed against the ground in one position for an extended amount of time. Keeping your tires covered and protected from the sun while you’re parked will keep the sun from damaging the rubber and degrading it over time.

Check the speed ratings on both your truck and trailer tires and keep your speed within the speed rating for your tires.

The RV industry recommends that you change your tires every five years, regardless of age or wear. Tires are not as reliable as they once were, partially due to changes in EPA regulations. Many tires made for heavy trailer use do not come with a manufacturer warranty, although many tire retailers will sell a warranty for their tires. Call around and do your research!

When looking at new tires, we recommend that you get a common, American brand that you’ve heard of before. Peterson Industries used either a Michelin or Good Year as their standard stock tire on Excels.  When trying to figure out which is better, it is probably a toss-up between the two.  We at RV Sales typically order tires with J ratings and heavier ply on Excels that had hydraulic brakes.

Dave Stout (thanks, Dave!) called and discussed tire make, models, how to read the tire, and warranties with Discount Tire (505-883-0766) and Albuquerque Tire (505-888-3833). Both retailers were very helpful. Both Discount Tire and Albuquerque Tire stated the single best thing you can do is use LT tires (light truck) vs ST (trailer tire) tires on your RV because LT tires are better designed for heavy hauling down the highway. They also said this type of tire will not come with a warranty other than for manufacturer defects, which is hard to prove. Discount Tire sells a warranty that, according to Albuquerque Tire, is very good.


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