There are a lot of different types of RVs spanning from monstrously large Class A motorhomes to travel trailers, teardrop trailers and popup campers.
Though the one thing they all have in common is that they all have at least two tires that get them where you want them to go.
Just like your car or pickup truck, your RV’s tires have a limited lifespan that can be affected by a lot of different factors. Not the least of which being the number of miles traveled.
Of course, RV tires are not cheap, and replacing them will take a big bite out of your travel budget.
This is why so many RV adventurers wonder how long will my RV tires last? The typical RV tires will last for around 8,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on the quality of the tread and usage. For most RV adventurers this translates into about three to five years of use before the RV’s tires need replacing.
Though there are several factors and maintenance tasks that can increase or decrease the lifespan of your RVs tires.
If you are concerned about how long your RV tires will last, or you just want to make the most out of them, this article is loaded with helpful information.
RV Tire Tread
Like all tires, the tread wear will play a major factor in how long your RV tires last. RV tires come with different tread life ratings.
If you are buying new RV tires, it might be worth it to spring for the highest rating tread life for your replacements.
Especially for a motorhome’s rear axle drive tires which see the most wear and tear.
How To Determine The Amount Of Tread Life On RV Tires?
Determining the amount of tread life on an RV’s tires yourself typically involves the “Penny Test.”
You insert the penny into the deepest part of the tire tread with the penny facing toward you.
Ideally, a significant portion of Abraham Lincoln’s head should be hidden by the tread.
If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then the tread is less than 1/16th of an inch, and you absolutely need to replace the tires as soon as possible.
Just bear in mind that 1/16th of an inch is the bare minimum. Ideally, you want at least a quarter of 4/32nds of an inch of tire tread.
Uneven RV Tire Wear
One of the things that kills a lot of RV tires before their time is uneven tread wear. This can be caused by a wide variety of things including:
Sometimes you can visually notice signs of uneven tread wear, though usually, this means that the tire is in such poor condition that it needs to be replaced to make it truly roadworthy.
So, it’s a good idea to always check all your RV tires before departing on any trip.
Make sure to perform the “Penny Test” on each tire in multiple locations including the middle, the inside tread and the outside tread lines.
RV Tire Age
It’s also worth noting that the age of an RV’s tires can also limit the remaining lifespan. Especially if your RV has been stored outdoors.
The elements can cause even tough vulcanized rubber to start to fade, crack and stiffen.
If your RV’s tires are more than five years old and you are seeing signs of cracking in the sidewalls or delamination of the tread, you should replace them as soon as possible.
Determining RV Tire Age
Let’s say you took the plunge and bought a gently preowned RV, the tread on the tires looks good, but you are worried about the overall age.
Of course, the chances of the previous owner honestly telling you how old the tires are and any concerns they have about them is relatively low.
Fortunately, tires come with dating information printed on them. Though you have to know how to read the code.
Look carefully on the tire for DOT. It will be followed by 4 numbers. The first two numbers are the week of the year that the RV tires were made, and the last two numbers are the year.
If the RV tires say DOT1120, it means they were made in the 11th week of 2020, which would be mid to late March.
Tips For Making The Most Out Of RV Tire Life
There are a few things you can do to help get the most life out of your RV tires. Though some of them can vary depending on the type of RV as well as your preferred travel style.
Rotate Your RV’s Tires
Ideally, you should rotate your RV’s tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Especially if it is a motorhome where the rear-drive tires suffer more wear and tear than the front steering tires.
Though even a travel trailer’s tires will benefit from rotating as minor mechanical variations in simple things like how the trailer tracks can lead to uneven tire wear.
Check RV Tire Pressure Frequently
You need to check your RV tire pressure at key points. This includes at the start of a trip, as well as when you get to camp, and when you finally get back home.
Being thorough helps you do things like catch a potential slow leak in a tire before it causes uneven tire wear, a flat tire, delamination, or a total blowout.
It’s also a good idea to check the tire pressure before storing the RV, as part of your winterization process.
If possible, check the tires two or three times during the winter. Many a pair of RV tires has been ruined by a slow leak that made them go flat during long-term winter storage.
Keep A Portable Air Compressor In Your RV
Slow leaks might start out as a minor inconvenience, but they can turn into a major problem if the tire gets too low.
Countless numbers of people have parked up at their campsite only to find one or two of their RV tires has a slow leak.
When you have a portable air compressor on board, you can refill these tires before hitting the open road, rather than risking popping a bead, severe tread wear or a blowout just trying to get back to civilization.
Check RV Tire Tread
Keep an eye on your RV tire tread. Little things like the penny test or using a tire caliper will help you determine when it is time to rotate your tires.
It can also help you catch things like an alignment issue that needs to be repaired.
Perform Routine Maintenance
It’s all too easy to learn to live with a minor variance in your motorhome’s alignment or a travel trailer that pulls a little bit to the left.
Though left unchecked these minor issues can contribute to the kind of uneven tire wear that will kill RV tires long before their time.
Getting these issues repaired by the certified mechanic will help pay for itself in extended tire life as well as an RV that is safer on the road.
Use Jack Stands & Supports When Camping
Even if you are going to be parking up your RV for a single night on your way to a far-flung destination, you should still use the necessary jack stands, struts or supports for your RV.
Not only will this take some of the load off the tires, but it can also improve the overall life and performance of your RVs suspension system, which can also affect tire life in the long term.
Replace Tires When Needed
It’s tempting to try to push an RV tire or two beyond their expected lifespan. Especially if your RV has multiple axles.
Unfortunately, the poor performance or uneven tread wear of these compromised tires can affect the life of other tires shortening their life prematurely as well.
RV Tires tend to have an average lifespan of around 5 years. Perhaps less for a motorhome that puts on a lot of cross-country miles, perhaps more for a travel trailer that only two or three short vacations away from home every year.
Taking care of your RV tires by checking the tread and frequently checking the tire pressure, as well as storing it properly will go a long way toward getting every last mile and moment out of them.
It will also help reduce the overall cost of ownership that comes with routine RV tire replacement.