RV Tires Lifespan: Choosing The Right Tires And Making Them Last


RV tires lifespan: Tire on dirt

You may wonder how long your tire may last during a series of trips around the country with your trusty Recreational Vehicle or RV. Perhaps you may even doubt whether your tire could hold out given the heavy cargo you may have loaded in the RV. Tire lifespan is a very important issue you must deal with if ever you would be using your RVs on the road. Moreso, you might also be concerned in getting the best tire you could buy given your budget. Whether you are expert in using and driving RVs or a newbie who has no idea on what to consider in using RVs, you will definitely need to consider tire lifespan.

What is the lifespan of rv tires? The average life expectancy of an RV Tire is around 5-7 years. Tire brands such Michelin often recommend inspection of tires for signs of aging at around 5 years and a mandatory replacement at 10 years. As for mileage, an RV may drive up to 80,000 to 120,000 miles throughout its lifetime.

In this article, we will go through the factors that affect life expectancy of your RV tires, the right set of tires for your RV and what other issues you would have to deal with first before you get back on the road. Given that choosing the best tire would make the RV tire last long, you will definitely need to consider tire sizes, load ratings, classes of RVs, sidewall strength and even environmental factors.

Factors That Affect Tire Life Expectancy

Driving habits and storage conditions affect tire life expectancy. 

An example for a common driving habit that reduces tire life expectancy is dragging the brakes downhill. It is common for RV drivers, even ordinary drivers, to drag their brakes whenever they go downhill. This is extremely bad for your RV tires as it increases friction in the tires, especially given the fact that RV tires bear heavy weight. 

Driving with a misaligned wheel also contributes to unnecessary wear and tear to your tires. This also may lead to uneven treads on your tires. Dry steering is also another driving habit you should avoid. This is when you play with the wheels while parked. You should avoid this as it unnecessarily wears the tire’s tread.

Geography and Atmospheric conditions also affect tire life expectancy. 

Driving over potholes and bumps not only give you a bumpy ride but also significantly damage your tires, especially when driving at considerably high speeds. Aside from that, RV tires that usually traverse off roads tend to age faster than tires limited to use in highways. Extreme summer heat and low humidity also speed up the aging of your tire and may at some times even contribute to sudden tire blowouts.

Weight and Load Distribution beyond the limit may hasten the aging of your RV tires

Knowing the limit of your tire’s weight capacity may help in slowing down the aging of your tires. Excess weight or uneven weight damages your tires as it increases the tension with the rubber. You must always follow the weight limit of your tire as indicated in the tire code.

Age Of The Tires Itself.  

It is very important to first determine the exact age of your tire, specifically the date when it was manufactured. By knowing the exact age of your tire, you can slow down its aging process. For instance, experts recommend that by the 5th year of your tire you must already conduct tire inspection as it is already susceptible to tire blowouts and thus may become a safety hazard.

Determining The Exact Age Of Your Tire

Tire is mostly made up of rubber and as this rubber gets exposed to multiple environmental factors, it ages. But how do you exactly know that age of your tire, is it the date of purchase? The age of your tire actually refers to its age relative to its manufacture date. Therefore, we need to be able to determine the date of manufacture of a tire before we can know its exact age. Luckily, we have the DOT Serial Number system or simply “DOT”. 

For tires manufactured after the year 2000, the DOT is written followed by a set of letters and four digits. The digits are written last and that digit will tell the date of manufacture of said tire. As an example, you may see a code written on the side of the tire that says “DOT EL CB DK 0304”. The first two digits refers to the week of manufacture while the last two digits refer to the year of manufacture, thus 0304 means manufactured in the third week of 2004. So we can safely assume that the said tire would be 16 years old by 2020.

For tires manufactured before the year 2000, the DOT is basically the same except that instead of last four digits, it would be three digits. As an example, a code may be written on the tire such as “027”. The first two digits are again in reference to the week of manufacture while the last digit refers to the year in the decade. So “027” means that the tire was manufactured in the second week of 1997. 

The system for listing the date of manufacture for tires before 1990 is also different but you should definitely avoid buying those as it is already way too old for use.

Frequent Use – Prolongs Tire Life Expectancy

Heat generated from regular use of tires protects the rubber from deterioration. Whenever they are used, the internal chemicals that are contained inside the tire are heated and thus warm up the rubber. An example of such a chemical is the anti-ozone protectant waxes present in the tires. Tires that are fitted but not actually used age faster than those tires already being used. 

Extracare must be done on said tires that are not frequently used in order to avoid the hasten aging. These tires must not be placed in areas where welding is done or where electric motors are present. Instead they should be parked in sealed garages. They must also be cleaned first before storage and should be inflated before parking. Should the storage last for more than 3 months, monthly one hour trips shall do the trick. 

As for tires that are still in storage, they must also be taken cared of as aging can also take place. These tires must be covered or sealed in order to avoid UV exposure. They must also preferably be stored vertically and should be placed in a cool but dry environment.

How often should tire cleaning be?

Cleaning your tires is not just for aesthetic purposes but also for maintenance purposes. There is no exact interval time for your tire’s cleaning schedule, however it is generally agreed by most experts that an RV should be cleaned at least once a month. If the usage rate is high, then it may be once every two weeks. 

Aside from dirt and sediments that may sometimes cling on to your tire, brake dusts may sit on your tires. Brake dusts are shavings of metal as a result of the friction created by the brake pad and the tire’s surface. Allowing these brake dust to attach to your tires for long periods of time will damage your tires and increase wear and tear because these brake dust when exposed to intense heat (for instance friction) become highly corrosive. It will literally melt the surface of your tire.

Do not be afraid to use a tire brush, rather it is highly recommended that you use one. Scrubbing off the tires old dressing layers will help in prolonging the lifespan of your tires.

Tire Size: the appropriate size for your trip and RV

The size of a tire can be seen on the tire itself written in what is sometimes referred to as a “tire code”. If you look into any kind of tire, it should appear as something like “P215/65R15”. In the example given, “215” shall refer to the width of the tire while “65” refers to the aspect ratio of the tire. The bigger the aspect ratio is, the bigger the tire’s sidewall will be.The “R” refers to the type of tire or how it is constructed, R refers to radial which means a radial type tire. 

Radial type tires are best suited for the highways because of their good grip and maneuverability. “15” refers to the diameter of the tire wheel, therefore “15” refers to 15 inch wheel diameter. For RVs, the most popular tire size is 225/70R19.5. RVs have higher probabilities of being overloaded than passenger cars, therefore choosing the right tire size that could efficiently carry such weight is crucial.

Knowing the appropriate size of tire with respect to the type of RV shall prolong the lifespan of said tires and avoid the unnecessary and expensive buying of new ones.

Load Rating/Capacity affects tire life

It is very important to know how much weight a given tire can carry because overloading your tires could speed up the aging process, and may even end up in catastrophic tire blowouts.

Similar to the tire size, the maximum load capacity of tires, including RV tires, are also included in the tire code. This time, however,  it is written on the sidewalls of the tire. For instance, you might see an RV tires sidewall with this inscription “MAX LOAD SINGLE 1380 kg (3000 lbs) at 350 kPa (50 psi) COLD”. That would mean that the tire could carry the maximum load of 3000 lbs whenever it is fully inflated. 

Adding the maximum load of four tires would result in a maximum load of 12,000 lbs of weight for said tire. The most crucial thing to consider is the weight of the RV, which not only includes the weight of the vehicle but also the things inside it. Not only that, you cannot just max out the weight of the RV tires for it would not give room for more weight should you desire to tow a trailer or another vehicle.

For guidance, a usual Class A RV would weigh around 33,000 – 36, 000 lbs. You would definitely need tires with higher load ratings for Class A RVs. Class C’s are way lighter ranging from 10,000-20,000lbs. Just to be sure, it is advised to get your RVs proper weight computed first because you would still have to account for the added weight given by passengers and cargo.

Class and Type of RV – are you buying the right tire type?

As already mentioned earlier, there are three basic classes of RVs which are Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A RVs are the biggest and heaviest of the bunch ranging from 15,000 – 36,000 lbs, but the usual weight of most Class A RVs are around 33,000 lbs. They are around 30-40 feet in length and are practically buses. 

Due to their weight and size, appropriate Class A RV tires should be used for Class A RVs. Using the wrong tire could result in tire blowouts which are expensive, especially given the fact that you could have avoided spending more money if you had just picked the appropriate tire. 

Furthermore, down the line repeated use of wrong tires will cause damage to your RV, especially in the brakes and suspensions. Class B RVs are the lightest and smallest of the classes of RVs. Class B RVs weight around 6,000-8000 lbs. They have a length of around 20 feet. Lastly, Class C RVs are in the middle ground of the clases, as they are bigger and heavier than Class B’s but are still lighter and smaller compared to Class A RVs. Class C RVs weigh around 8,000-15,000 lbs and are usually around 20-30 feet in length. 

Sidewall Strength – Weather Cracking 

This is where you will have to do your homework. Sidewall strength is important in RV tires because RVs are way heavier than your ordinary passenger vehicles. Due to the weight of RVs, you will definitely need sturdy tires with strong sidewall. Durability and strength of tires is not easy to determine and therefore you will need to read forums and opinions of other experienced owners of RVs regarding a specific RV tire. Having a tire with a weak sidewall could possibly result in three scenarios, one is a tire blowout. Another is belt or tread separation which is the detachment of the belts and/or tread in a radial tire. Lastly, weak sidewall could also result in sidewall failure.

Weather cracking is manifested in lines or streaks on the surface of the tire. These streaks show that the tire is damaged due to exposure from the sun’s UV rays or with intense heat. Ozone in the atmosphere and the sun’s UV rays both contribute to the aging of your tires, and this is visible on the sidewall of your tires. You will definitely need tires with strong sidewalls.

Environmental Factors

Aside from the weight of the RV, the size of the RV tires you could choose from, the sidewall strength of tires, you will also need to consider the environmental factors you will encounter on the road. Such as snow, ice, dirt roads, floods, extreme heat, etc. You can actually see lists of best winter and snow tires according to experts. These factors are very important to consider as some tires tend to be less efficient in certain environments. However, recently top tire brands have engineered and introduced All Terrain Tires that could be used in most conditions.

Have you heard of some of the top rated RV tires in 2020?

Here are a few of the top rated RV tires in 2020:

  1. Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude HT All-Season Radial Tire
  2. Boto Tyres BT926 Radial Tire
  3. Goodyear Unisteel G614 RST Radial Tire

Conclusion

While your average RV tire may normally last up to 7 years, by not properly selecting the appropriate tire yours may not last longer than 3 years. Aside from choosing the wrong tires, bad driving habits, lazy maintenance, and even long periods of non use, may result in your tires not even reaching the mandatory 5 year period for tire inspection.

To conclude, there are a lot you would need to consider in choosing the right tires for your RV. With the right combination of your own research, the opinion given by experts, ratings given by reputable sources, and hopefully this article, you can now go to your nearest tire stores, such as Goodyear, and start the first step in touring the stateside with your RV. Always remember that safety should always be put above adventure and thrill.

Ash

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