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What RV-ers Need to Know About Buying Tires

By Tire Agent Staff

April 20, 2023


Do you know what all the numbers on the side of your vehicle's tires mean? Not everyone pays attention to those details when buying car and truck tires because you leave that to your tire professional when you're in the market for new wheels. Load index is one of those numbers, and it refers to carrying capacity. For everyday drivers who commute to work, drive kids to games, and run errands, load index isn't top of mind.

But when shopping for RV tires? Don't ignore the load index. In this post, we'll answer the most pressing questions about buying tires for your RV and give some helpful maintenance tips.

Key Elements to Know When Buying RV Tires

Somewhere on the RV, usually near the door or VIN tag on the driver's side, is a placard or sticker that provides the dimensions and carrying capacities of the rig. RVs are not built symmetrically; in other words, the weight is unevenly distributed throughout the rig, so follow the manufacturer's recommendations when buying replacement tires and inflating them. If you bought your RV used, don't go by the tires that are on the rig; go by what the manufacturer recommends.

Here are the most important factors to consider when buying trailer tires for a 5th wheel and RV tires for Class A, B, and C motorhomes.

    • Load capacity: RV tires must be capable of handling the weight of your vehicle and its contents. Choose tires with a load capacity rating equal to or greater than the weight of your RV.
    • Size: RV tires come in many sizes, and choosing the right one for your vehicle is paramount. Check the sidewall of your current tires or consult your owner's manual to find the proper size.
    • Tread pattern: The tread pattern can affect your vehicle's traction and handling. Choose a tread pattern appropriate for the terrain you'll be driving on, whether it's paved roads, gravel or off-road.
    • Brand: Choose a brand with a good reputation for quality and durability. Look for manufacturers that have been around for a long time and have a proven track record in the RV industry.

Buying the right tires for your RV is critical to safety and comfort. By understanding these characteristics, you can make an informed decision and choose the best tires for your vehicle. Let's not stop there. Here are tips for maintaining RV tires.

How to Check Tire Pressure for RV Tires

Maintaining proper tire pressure is critical for safe driving and avoiding premature wear and tear of your RV's tires. To check tire pressure for your RV, whether it's a Class A, B, C or the type you tow, follow these simple steps:

    • Get the necessary tools before you begin: You will need a tire pressure gauge and an air compressor. Many newer models of RVs come with air compressors installed. If you don't have an air compressor, most gas stations have an air pump that you can use for free or for a small fee. 
    • Find the recommended tire pressure: The recommended tire pressure for your RV will depend on the make and model of your vehicle and the weight of your load. You can find the recommended tire pressure in your RV owner's manual or on a sticker inside the driver's door or near the front of the RV. Check the tire pressure when the tires are cold, as the pressure will increase as the tires warm up.
    • Check the tire pressure: Remove the valve cap from the tire and press the tire pressure gauge onto the valve stem. You should hear a hissing sound as air escapes. After a couple of seconds, the gauge will give you a reading of the tire pressure. Repeat this process for each tire, including the spare. This 2-minute video from Great American RV shows you how to check RV tire pressure. 
    • Inflate or deflate: If the tire pressure is too low, use the air compressor to inflate the tire to the recommended pressure. If the tire pressure is too high, use the tire pressure gauge to release air until the pressure is within the recommended range. Do not overinflate tires, as this can cause them to explode.
    • Check the tires regularly: As part of your pre-departure RV checklist, check tire pressure before each trip. This will help to verify that your RV tires are road ready.
    • Consider a TPMS upgrade: If you want to take your tire pressure monitoring to the next level, consider investing in a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This will constantly monitor the tire pressure and alert you if there is a problem.

What If You're Traveling Through Mountains?

Traveling through mountains and high altitudes can affect RV tire pressure due to changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature.

As altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure decreases. This means less pressure pushes down on the tires. This can cause the air inside the tires to expand, leading to a boost in tire pressure.

The temperature at higher altitudes can also impact tire pressure. As the temperature drops, the air inside the tires contract, causing the tire pressure to reduce.

Therefore, it is necessary to regularly monitor the tire pressure when traveling through mountains and high altitudes to guarantee the tires are properly inflated and to avoid potential safety issues.

It is also recommended to check the tire pressure when the RV is at a lower altitude, and the tires are at a cooler temperature to get an accurate reading.

Photo 104171163 | Andreyi Armiagov |