RV tire blowouts are not only scary, but they have the potential of being really dangerous as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports thousands of tire-related accidents and hundreds of related deaths each year.
Before hitting the road in your RV, make sure you know what to do if your tire blows, and how to avoid tire blowouts in an RV altogether.
Improper tire pressure, heavy cargo, or an uneven distribution of this weight could all lead to a tire blowout in an RV.
At the same time, blowouts can also be caused by bad road conditions.
Understanding the ideal conditions for your RV tires and how to maintain them will help you avoid blowouts, and knowing how to drive through tire blowouts will have you prepared to handle the situation if it arises.
Let’s take a closer look at why tire blowouts occur and the best ways to deal with motorhome tire blowout on the highway.
What Can Cause Frequent A Trailer Or Motorhome Tire Blowouts?
The most common causes of tire blowouts in a trailer or motorhome are overloading the vehicle and incorrect tire pressure.
Tire tread that has worn too thin will also cause a blowout, as will an uneven weight distribution.
Each RV will have its own maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) rating that tells you exactly how much it can comfortably carry.
Surpassing this limit can put excessive strain on all parts of the vehicle, from the motor to the tires.
An unbalanced load can also put more weight on one tire than the rest, making it carry more than it should and running the risk of the tire blowing out.
This is especially dangerous if tires are overinflated. Because the tires already have excess pressure on them from holding too much air, additional weight from a heavy load can put the tire at risk.
If tires are underinflated, too much of the tire’s surface will be touching the road. This creates additional friction, causing the tire to heat up.
Hot tires can lead to more wear, while also risking the tire treads separating and the tire blowing out completely.
For any type of RV, you’ll find the maximum GVW and the recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
Even if you take all possible precautions, accidents happen and you may still experience a tire blowout.
Although these can be dangerous situations, the risk is significantly reduced for those who are prepared to handle the situation.
How to drive through a tire blowout successfully is not how many of us would naturally react, but knowing what to do could potentially save the lives of you and your passengers.
Although many people will stomp on their brakes when their tire blows, physics teaches us that it’s actually best to maintain momentum.
When a tire blows, it creates friction and a sudden drag from that tire, while the rest of the tires continue on as they were.
The goal when this happens is to direct the vehicle to a safe stopping point.
However, pressing the brakes will exert a second halting force that will put more tires out of sync with one another, which can quickly make you lose control of the vehicle.
Instead of panicking and simply reacting when a tire blows out, remember the following steps:
Remain calm and confident that you know how to handle the situation
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel, as it will want to jerk to the side
Attempt to maintain your RV’s momentum by gently accelerating. Giving your RV a bit of gas will counter the sideways force of the blown-out tire, keeping your vehicle from spinning and swerving out of control
Allow the RV to slowly decelerate on its own, only braking gently when you’re ready to come to a stop
Carefully steer the RV to a safe place on the side of the road where you or a professional can change the tire
As soon as the tire blows out, you’ll feel a sudden pull in that direction. This requires quick action, particularly at high speeds.
As long as you keep calm and maintain momentum, you’ll be able to direct your RV to a safe stopping point.
How To Safely Handle a Tire Blowout in Your RV
If your RV experiences a tire blowout, you’ll have to change the tire completely.
Whether you plan to do the job yourself or to call on roadside assistance, be sure to first turn your hazard lights on so that other passing vehicles can clearly see that your RV is stopped.
1: Changing an RV Tire
If you have a spare tire and the proper tools, you’ll be able to get your RV on the road again quickly.
Knowing how to change your own tire is especially useful if your tire blows out In an area without cell service or on an unmaintained road where roadside assistance won’t respond to.
To change the tire on any RV with two or more axels, you’ll need the following tools:
For anyone who doesn’t have all of the above tools on hand, or who may not be as mechanically savvy, there are some excellent roadside assistance programs available that cover both RVs and tow vehicles.
2: Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance will either change the tire on the spot or will offer to tow your vehicle to the nearest shop.
Your options will depend on which plan you are covered by and whether or not you have a spare tire on hand.
There are several roadside assistance plans available for RVs, each of which have varying services and limitations. Common services include:
When choosing the right roadside assistance plan for your needs, be sure to take into consideration how and where you plan to travel.
Not all companies will be available outside of maintained areas, and some companies have limitations on how far they will tow your vehicle or travel to bring you fuel.
6 Tips to Avoid a Tire Blowouts In An RV This Summer
Although they aren’t completely preventable, there are several ways to avoid RV tire blowouts.
Basically, you want to keep the pressure on all tires as close as possible, and you want to make sure that your tires are in good condition before hitting the road.
To do this, take the following precautions:
Know the load range and maximum speed rating of your RV tires
Check the psi, tread, and overall condition of your tires regularly
Rotate your tires
Ensure an even weight distribution across all tires before you travel
Protect your RV tires between uses
Change your RV tires according to the manufacturer date
With the proper maintenance and attention to detail, you can greatly reduce your risk of a tire blowout.
1. Load Range and Maximum Speed Rating
The load range of a tire indicates how much it can safely carry when fully inflated.
Dividing the GVW of your RV by the number of tires on your RV will tell you how much each tire will need to carry at max capacity.
Comparing this number to the load range of each tire will tell you whether or not the tires on your RV will hold up to the job.
The speed rating of a tire indicates the maximum speed that each tire should travel. This is an especially important number for towable RVs.
Although your tow vehicle may have the power to pull your camper at above highways speeds, it doesn’t mean that the tires on the RV are made to go that fast.
When tires exceed their maximum speed rating, they overheat, which can eventually cause them to thin and blow out.
2. Psi, Tread, and Overall Condition of Your Tires
Knowing the status of your tires before hitting the road is crucial. Tire pressure can raise and drop based on temperature, elevation, and condition of the tire.
To make sure that all tires are holding the recommended amount of air, regularly check the psi.
The best way to do this is to invest in a tire pressure monitor system, which will allow you to monitor the pressure of each tire while you are driving on the road.
It is also important to take a look at the tread and overall condition of your tires. Just as with tire pressure, the tread and seams of tires can be affected by varying temperatures and use.
Hot temperatures can heat up and weaken tires, while cold temperatures can crack rubber with time.
Other factors like rough roads and UV rays that dry out rubber also deteriorate tires over time.
Most states have laws outlining the minimum tire tread allowed, which is commonly around 2/32 inch.
However, it’s not recommended to push this to the limit, especially for RVs with a high GVW.
3. Rotate Your Tires
Rotating your tires ensures that they wear evenly. Keeping all tires in as close to the same condition as possible not only helps keep weight distribution and psi balanced, but it will also help prevent a surprise blowout from one tire being weaker than the rest.
4. Ensure an Even Weight Distribution Across All Tires
Uneven weight distribution due to components like slides and tanks forces tires to carry disproportionate loads.
If a single tire ends up having to carry more of the weight than it can handle, it may result in a tire blowout.
It is best to keep the distribution and the tire pressure as equal as possible.
To balance any uneven distribution, fill all tires on any given axel to the highest weight of any other tire on that same axle.
There are several ways to ensure that your RV has an even weight distribution across all tires.
When loading your RV, take note of where you are placing your items. Only lighter items should be stored in overhead compartments, while the heaviest items are ideal secured in the center of the RV.
Once you’re loaded up and ready to go, you’re ready to check the weight and weight distribution of your RV.
It is possible to use a CAT scale at truck weight stations to measure the overall weight of your RV and/or tow vehicle.
This will allow you to get a reading of what each axel is carrying to give you an idea of where most of the weight sits.
However, you can only determine proper weight distribution when weighing by wheel position.
Rather than weighing at truck stops, RVSEF (RV Safety and Education Foundation) stations have scales that weigh the load that each individual tire is carrying.
This will indicate if any tire is carrying significantly more than any other tire, and will allow you to readjust your load as needed.
RVSEF stations are, however, not as easy to find as truck weigh stations, but you can find locations and weigh events on their website.
5. Protect Your RV Tires Between Uses
Tires can deteriorate with time, even when they aren’t being used. Factors such as UV rays, moisture, and ice can all slowly damage your tires.
To help prevent this, it is best to keep your motorhome tires sheltered and protected. If possible, store your RV inside.
Otherwise, try to park in a dry spot, out of the sun and out of any puddles or wet mud.
Tire covers are also great whether your RV is stored inside or outside. Tire covers can shade tires from the sun, or keep them from freezing during cold winter months.
6. Change Your RV Tires According to the Manufacturer Date
Most people don’t use their RV as frequently as commuter vehicles, so the wear on RV tires may not always be as obvious.
However, tires come with a manufacturer date for a reason. Rubber will crack and otherwise deteriorate with time, regardless of how well it is cared for, and the damage may not always be obvious at first glance.
Even if you only use your RV once or twice a year, changing your tires by the recommended manufacturer date will ensure that they are safe for the road.
How to Avoid Tire Blowouts
From extreme temperatures, to extreme potholes, you can never fully predict what your RV tires will have to endure.
Routine maintenance and understanding how to prepare for the worst can help you avoid a scary and potentially dangerous RV tire blowout while on the road.