Should You Be Driving On A Flat Tire?
If you haven’t had a flat tire on your RV yet, consider yourself lucky. From unexpected blowouts to flat tires caused by a sudden drop in temperature, this is one of those things that all RVers deal with. A right of passage, almost.
This leaves one wondering, “What should I do when my RV gets a flat tire? Is driving on a flat tire in an RV okay?” Obviously, it’s best to answer these questions before you ever have a flat. But if you’re sitting on the side of the road or in a campsite with a flat tire right this minute, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will be talking about what you should do when you get a flat tire on your RV.
Can you drive on a flat tire?
First, let’s answer a question that many people find themselves asking when a flat tire rears its ugly head: Is driving on a flat tire okay?
The answer to this question is a resounding “No.” It is definitely not safe to drive around as normal on a flat tire. Doing so will cause damage to the wheel within that tire, your other tires, your suspension, and more. Not only that, but the vehicle will be more difficult to control with a flat tire, something that could put you and your passengers in danger.
All that said, there are situations that might require you to limp along to a safe place. If you have a blowout on the highway, driving very slowly on the shoulder to the next exit is usually okay, depending on the level of tire damage. If you have a flat tire at your campsite, however, it might be better to try to get some air in the tire, switch out for a spare, or have the vehicle towed to the nearest tire shop.
But what if…?
Some people wonder if this rule is true if they have a dually vehicle where one of the back tires has blown out. Others want to know if the rule applies when you have a multi-axle trailer. Unfortunately, in both of these cases, it is still important that you avoid driving normally on a flat tire, as damage can still occur from weight being improperly distributed onto the remaining tires.
As is the case with other vehicles, it is still okay (in most cases) to slowly limp somewhere safe on a flat with a dually or multi-axle trailer, but anything more than that is a risk not worth taking.
Preventing RV flat tires
Nobody wants to deal with a flat tire on their RV. For this reason, it only makes sense to do what you can to avoid blowouts and flats in the first place.
While there is no way to guarantee you won’t get a flat tire at some point during your camping career, taking the precautions below will help you avoid some of the causes behind this common RV issue.
Always check your tires
RVers should be doing walk-around checks before every trip and every time they stop to fuel up. A big part of these checks is checking the tires for worn tread, uneven wear, bubbling, cracking, and other issues. If you catch a problem, take a break from driving and put your spare on in place of the damaged tire.
Keep an eye on tire pressure
Tire pressure plays a huge role in how your vehicle rides. Poor tire pressure can also cause tire blowouts. Avoid this issue by checking your tire pressure before each trip and topping your tires up as needed.
Install a Tire Pressure Monitoring System
A tire pressure monitoring system can help you keep an eye on tire pressure. Some models will also alert you when a tire is running hot so you can pull over before a blowout occurs and avoid driving on a flat tire.
Replace worn or old tires
Obviously, you will want to replace tires when the tread becomes worn or when they show signs of damage. It’s also important to keep an eye on tire manufacture dates and replace your tires when they are 6 years old, if not before.
Avoid driving over debris
Often, flat tires are caused by driving over a nail or a screw. If you pull into a parking lot and notice a lot of debris, make a point of avoiding as much of the debris as possible and even leaving the parking lot if necessary. You might also check your tires after driving in an area with a lot of debris on the ground.
Precautions to take in case of a flat tire
As we mentioned earlier, there is no way to avoid flat tires 100% of the time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to go into every trip prepared for the possibility of a flat or a blowout. This way, you can avoid the need to go driving on a flat tire, as you will be able to take care of the problem before getting back out on the road. Here are our tips for doing that.
Always have a spare
You should always have a spare tire for your RV, as well as on your tow vehicle and dolly (if applicable). Check your spare regularly to ensure dry rot doesn’t take over, and make sure it is replaced at least every six years. We recommend carrying a full-sized spare if at all possible, as driving on a “donut” is never ideal.
Carry a tire change kit
In addition to your spare tire, you will also want to make sure you have the tools needed to use that spare. A tire change kit with a jack, lug wrench, and breaker bar might just save you.
(Note: Motorhomes and larger trailers will require a heavy duty jack!)
Pack an air compressor
Sometimes your tire doesn’t need to be replaced entirely; it just needs a little air. In these cases, a portable air compressor is mighty handy to have around. We recommend the DEWALT 20V MAX* Cordless Tire Inflator for trailers, and the VIAIR 450P- 45053 RV Silver Automatic Portable Compressor Kit for motorhomes.
Grab some slime
If you’re dealing with a small puncture in a tire, it might be possible to seal it temporarily with some Tire Slime. That’s why we always like to keep a bottle of this stuff on hand.
Invest in roadside assistance
Lastly, we highly recommend investing in RV roadside assistance. In the majority of cases, roadside assistance can help you get a new tire in place and get you back on the road. Such services also help with a variety of other issues, making this a worthwhile investment.
Track your RV maintenance
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
There you have it: the answers to all your RV flat tire questions! To recap: No, driving on a flat tire isn’t a good idea, but there are plenty of other ways to avoid flat tires and take care of them if an issue decides to come up anyway.