A tire blowout can be especially common on RVs due to their additional “load weight” (weight that is not built into the vehicle itself) that they carry, and the fact that they can often be left stationary for extended periods of time.
As tire blowouts can scupper road trips, here are the precautions that you should take to reduce the chances of your tires blowing out on your RV. These precautions should be taken as part of wider RV tire maintenance practices.
Underinflated tires can lead to tire blowouts because it shifts downwards pressure from the tread of the tire (the part that makes direct contact with the road) to the tire’s sidewall (the part of the tire that runs parallel to the vehicle). Tire sidewalls lack the elasticity of treads and therefore are greater at risk of rupturing if enough pressure is applied to them.
Therefore keeping your tires at their recommended inflation is the most important factor in minimizing the chances of a blowout occurring. You can find your vehicle’s tires’ recommended inflation in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Two ways you can ensure that your tires are as close to their recommended inflation are:
The only time that you may want to ride on slightly underinflated tires is if you are driving on grass or dirt roads. In these cases you ideally want to be riding on off-road tires and make sure they are no more than 15% below their recommended inflatedness.
All vehicle’s, including RVs, have a maximum amount of weight that they can safely carry. Exceeding this weight puts undue pressure on the vehicle’s tires which can in turn lead to tire blowouts.
RV’s are particularly likely to have their weight limit exceeded due to the amount of baggage that is taken with when travelling. You should therefore know your RV’s weight limit and take care not to exceed it.
RV’s weight limits can be found in the vehicle manual. There may be a few different limits offered, but the most important one to look out for is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle can safely weigh with all its contents inside it. Make sure that your vehicle does not exceed its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating when you travel. If you are not sure about this, then there are truck weighing stations dotted along highways where you can weigh your RV.
Tires also have a maximum amount of weight that they can carry, and this is denoted by the final two digits on a tire’s sidewall. This number represents a maximum weight that your vehicle’s tires can safely carry.
You can find out how this figure corresponds with actual weight by looking at this chart. Again, your RV weight along with everything inside it (including passengers) should not exceed its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and the load index of the tires.
Excessive heat can increase your chances of suffering tire blowouts as it raises the pressure within a tire. This can literally lead to a tire bursting.
Although low tire pressure (underinflation) is a more common cause of blowouts than high tire pressure, the latter can still contribute to blowouts and are particularly likely if an RV has been travelling at high speeds for a long period of time on a hot day.
Here are a few ways that you can protect your tires when driving your RV in hot weather (over 90 degrees Fahrenheit)
Take regular breaks if driving on the highway: The main cause of excessive heat buildup within a tire is friction from driving on the road. The faster you travel the more friction, and therefore heat, is created within the tire. Therefore if you are driving on the highway aim to take a half hour break for every two hours of travelling. This should give enough time for the heat and pressure to reduce in the tire to a safe level.
Park on grass or gravel where possible: Tarmac gets incredibly hot if the air temperature is high, and this heat can transfer into the tire if a vehicle is parked on a tarmacked road for a long period of time. You therefore want to be parking your vehicle on grass or gravel roads on hotter days.
In addition to these steps, making sure that your tires are at the correct inflation and that your vehicle is not overloaded, will reduce the likelihood of your tires overheating. Both excessive weight and underinflation increase the amount of friction between the tire and the road and therefore contribute to the chances of a heat related blowout.
The rubber in tires naturally degrades over time (this is why you should never drive on tires more than six years old). This deterioration speeds up when tires are stationary as the compounds that keep the rubber elastic leech out of the tire when they are not put under downward pressure.
This tire degradation is also known as “dry rotting” and can be exacerbated by exposure to UV rays, heat and ozone, as well as by tires being stationary. Here are some tips on how you can slow down the rate of dry rotting in tires on a stationary vehicle.
Store your vehicle RV out of direct sunlight: If you are keeping your RV parked for more than a couple of weeks, you want to keep it indoors or at least out of direct sunlight. As UV rays and heat both contribute to dry rotting, RVs should be stored in a cool, dark area like a garage.
Keep your stored RV away from electrical appliances: Large electrical appliances like fridges and freezers emit ozone, and this can speed up dry rotting in tires. Try to not keep these appliances in the same room as you keep your RV. You can find more information on what appliances emit ozone here.
Clean your RVs tires before you keep it in storage: Mud on the surface of tires will slowly evaporate and this can pull out some of the resins that prevent a tire from degrading. Therefore you should clean your RVs tires if you intend to keep your vehicle stationary for an extended period of time. Clean your tires with warm water. Do not use soap as this can dry your tires out further.
Try to drive your RV from time to time, even if only for a short distance: Just a 30 minute drive every few weeks can help work some of the essential resins back into a tire and reduce the rate at which dry rotting occurs. Try to take your RV out for short trips a couple of times a month.
You can find more RV storage tips here.
Although you can never completely prevent a tire blowout from happening, following the above tips should reduce the chances of blowouts happening on your RV as far as they possibly can.
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