The technical guide for maintaining your RV tyres

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


This month, Bill gives a few tips on maintaining your RV tyres

Tyres big and small, heavy duty or lightweight, slick or snow, have a relatively small contact point on the road surface.

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The entire weight of your RV is carried on that road contact footprint, the effectiveness of which is vital to the safety of your journey.

Which tyres?

Motorhomes – and most caravans – operate at or near the vehicle GVW continuously, unlike commercial vehicles that can run empty as often as they run fully loaded. For this reason tyre companies make tyres specifically for RVs.

These tyres are available in New Zealand through tyre resellers like Beaurepairs and the RV Super Centre. If you have purchased an RV built in Europe/UK in the last five years it will most likely be shod with RV specific tyres.

These tyres offer a number of benefits; they are built to accept higher operating pressures, are safer running at high speeds, have tougher more rigid sidewalls that reduce vehicle sway, and they have a tougher tread compound.

Light commercial tyres can be used but they are likely to be shorter lived and noisier than RV specific tyres. Car tyres are not recommended in any shape or form.

Tyre Pressure

The correct tyre pressure is vital for safe driving, as well as getting the maximum life out of your tyres, as it helps ensure the maximum contact footprint. Over-inflation causes the centre of the tyre tread to bulge upwards, under-inflate and the tread will sag inwards.

Both result in a reduced footprint area and uneven tread pattern wear. This is quite noticeable with the centre worn through over-inflation and the edges through under-inflation.

Wheel misalignment is another cause of uneven tyre wear that needs to be addressed as soon as it becomes apparent.

Note that forecourt tyre pumps often have inaccurate gauges and are incapable of achieving the higher pressures required. It is a good investment to purchase your own tyre gauge and 12volt air compressor so you can achieve the correct tyre pressure as needed.

Old age

Tyres get old too! The side walls develop cracks and so does the tread. It is harder to spot as it occurs right at the bottom of the grooves so it pays to look hard. RV owners in the UK are recommended to consider tyre changes every four years irrespective of the mileage run. Unused in the winter, tyres develop flat spots.

Taking your RV for a spin every month or so can make a big difference. And keeping the sun off the tyres will reduce the incidence of tyre wall cracking.

Monitors

Tyre pressure monitors are worth considering. They have become smaller, more effective, and less expensive and could pay for themselves by saving just one tyre. The monitors are in the tyre cap and they check tyre temperature and pressure on the go and let you know if one is going to blow. Michelin have a nice set of kit for around $200.

Tyre safe

UK website tyresafe.org has a mountain of practical useful information about vehicle tyres with downloadable load index references and a host of other useful information. So it’s a good reference if you want to find out what all those numbers and letters moulded into your tyre walls mean.

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