I noticed the tread on one of my camper tires was wearing down. Although the other tires looked fine, I wondered if there were other things to look for to see if my tires needed replacing.
I found with tires, there are two areas to be concerned about: tread and aging tires. If you drive about 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year, the treads will wear out before the tires do in less than five years. If you drive 5,000 or less a year, your concern would be about the aging tires themselves, rather than the tread. It is recommended that all tires be replaced within five years.
People who are on the road full-time might need to be concerned about the tread disappearing on their tires. For weekend warriors with a lower mileage, aging tires can be the problem.
Signs That Tires May Be Too Old
Aging tires will have cracks. The problem is those cracks might not always show on the outside. The cracks might be inside your tire, however. What those cracks in aging tires might lead to is the separation of the steel belts, possibly causing an individual to lose control on the road.
Aging tires will deteriorate regardless of the mileage. If a camper-trailer sits in a garage for four years without being moved, the tires are still deteriorating during that time, a fact not well-known which can lead to fatalities.
How Can I Know How Old My Tires Are?
I know now that tires need replacing about every four or five years. But how do I know how long the tires have been at the tire shop before I purchased them? How long have they been quietly aging before I bought them? Tire manufacturers put the date tires are produced on every tire. All I need to do to find out how old my tires are is find the DOT letters on the tire, skip the next code of four letters/numbers, and the next code is the date code. After writing the date code down, I can go to https://recstuff.com/how-old-are-my-trailer-tires-plug-in-your-dot-code-and-find-out/ and enter the code. The date of manufacture will come up, and this will let me know the actual age of my tires, instead of when I bought the tires. I need to remember to also check the date on my spare tire.
What Leads to Deterioration of Tires?
Heat and improper maintenance cause deterioration of tires as well as ultraviolet light, which actually causes chemical changes in the rubber itself. Just as hoses and belts in cars can dry rot, dry rot can set in if the tires are exposed to extreme heat and low inflation. Lack of use accelerates the process. Discoloration and cracks in the sidewalls of a tire can be a clue to dry rot.
What Effect Does Mileage Have on Camper-Trailer Tires?
If I drive less than 5,000 miles a year, then I need to look for the signs that my tires are aging if I’m near the four or five-year mark. If I tour the country and rack up 10,000 miles or more, then I need to pay attention to the tread on my tires as well.
How Can Aging Be Decreased in Tires?
Over-washing can remove chemicals designed to slow the aging process.
Don’t allow your tires to sit unused. Now I know this includes any extra tires stacked in my garage, saved for a rainy day.
The tire kept with your camper-trailer in case of a flat is also vulnerable to dry rot, although more slowly as it is usually kept covered and not exposed to ultraviolet light.
Don’t use products on your tires that make them shine as these often contain petrochemicals and silicone which remove chemicals the factory puts into place to slow aging. Water-based tire products are a better choice for your tires. Ultraviolet protection can also be found in some of these products. Try using a product like 303 Protectant, which doesn’t contain silicone and protects against ultraviolet light. 303 Protectant will leave your tires looking clean and black without the deterioration from the harmful products.
Proper inflation is necessary. We’ve often heard that proper inflation of tires increases fuel efficiency. Now, we have another reason to keep our tires properly inflated to avoid increased aging and possible accidents, so take that pressure gauge out of your glove box or camper toolbox and put it to good use before each trip.
You will find the maximum psi on the sidewall of your tire. Because trailer tires are made with a thicker sidewall to handle weight, they require the right amount of inflation. If the tires of a camper are undeirinflated, it will cause more heat while driving, and the tire could fail.
RV tire pressure monitoring systems are available for those who feel more comfortable using one of these instead of a tire pressure gauge. Such systems will give you a warning if one of your tires becomes underinflated. Not only does an RV tire pressure monitoring system help maintain the life of your tires, but they also increase your safety and value of the camper or RV.
Insurance premiums for RVs or campers should also decrease with the installation of an RV tire pressure monitoring system, so be sure to inform your insurance agent if you have installed an RV tire pressure monitoring system.
One such system is the VICTONY Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring System available on Amazon. Some RV tire pressure monitoring systems do function less favorably on extremely large vehicles, however. Shop around to find the right style and price for you.
Tires can also be kept in better condition by winterizing them along with the rest of the camper. Inflate the tire to the proper pressure and cover to keep out ultraviolet light for the season. If parking on asphalt, place a piece of wood between your tires and the ground, as asphalt contains harmful petrochemicals and frozen ground, in general, is harmful to tires. Don’t allow the tires to overlap the ends of the wood pieces. It might cause damage to the interior of the tire.
I also learned that to help keep my tires free from spots of wear and tear, I need to balance my tires. If tires are not balanced, they can develop spots of wear and tear on the sides of the tire treads. These spots can be harder to see on the inner side of the tire.
Use the Proper Tire For Camper-Trailers
There are differences between passenger car tires, light truck tires, and special trailer tires. Using the right tire can help avoid swaying and blow-outs. Passenger car tires are not built for campers with the heavier weight load. Light truck tires are more flexible and less durable for a camper-trailer which can lead to more chances of a blow-out or swaying.
Special trailer tires are designed with larger polyester cords and stiffer sidewalls for carrying heavier weight loads. Special trailer tires should never be used for drive or steering axles, but for trailer position axles only.
I’d better double-check my camper’s tires. I can do that by looking for the letters ST for special trailer on the side of my tires. If I see the letters LT, I’ll know I’ve got light truck tires, which will need to be changed. I also want to check and be sure that I don’t have an ST tire on the drive or steering axles. As I mentioned before, weight load is important. Since I load my camper with water, fuel, and food, how much weight can I safely put on my tires?
How Do I Find the Correct Weight Load for My Tires?
If I want to have my tires last as long as safely possible, I want to be sure I’m not overloading them. Overloading can also cause a tire blowout. I need to check the sidewall for the letter showing the load range. This can be a letter from A through N. Charts at tire shops will show what weight that letter load range can be. Many online tire shops also have that chart such as https://rvtires.com/load-index/, which will let you know the safe tire load for your camper. Note what letter is on the sidewall of your tire when you get your camper and do not switch to a lower load-bearing tire.
Charts at tire shops will show what weight that letter load range can be. Many online tire shops, like this one, also have that chart which will let you know the safe tire load for your camper. Note what letter is on the sidewall of your tire when you get your camper and do not switch to a lower load-bearing tire.
Should I Use Radial or Bias Tires?
Radial tires are built a little tougher, and the treads last longer, which makes them great for longer or more frequent trips. For going on trips every once in a while, bias tires, which are less expensive, are fine.
I found that whether a weekend warrior or a full-time RVer, several areas need looking at to see if my tires can last another year or if they need replacing now to avoid swaying or a blow-out. I learned that tire loads are just as important in pulling a camper as the vehicle I’m using to tow the camper with.