Be a Good Tire Observer

For all that your RV’s tires do for you – such as carrying you, your family and your traveling possessions wherever you care to wander – they don’t ask for much in return. But they do demand a bit of attention, because tires don’t take kindly to neglect.

Learn how to be a good tire observer, and take action when things don’t look right.

Unlike most other mechanical components in your rig, your tires are right out there in the open where they’re easy to see. Use that to your advantage by glancing at your wheels and tires every time you walk toward your rig. Here’s what you can spot:

• INFLATION: Don’t count on a visual inspection as confirmation of correct air pressure. That’s only possible with a tire gauge. But you should always glance at all your tires to see if one looks low. For example, nails can penetrate tubeless radial tires and self-seal enough so as not to blow out, but can leak air slowly. A tire that was properly inflated when you checked it with your gauge that morning can be down 10 psi when you stop for lunch. Tire pressures should always be checked when tires are “cold,” before the vehicle has been driven more than a mile.

• VALVE STEM CAPS. These little caps help hold air in and keep dirt out of the valve stem. When you see one missing, replace it. Metal caps are preferred; look inside one and you’ll see a rubber gasket that’s proof of their air-holding capability.

• LUG NUTS. A little dust or discoloration around a lug nut can mean it’s working loose; tighten it to the manufacturer’s recommended torque, and check the others. If one’s missing, replace it.

• TREAD WEAR. You won’t notice changes in tread wear from one stop to another, but you can take advantage of the different sight angles and light conditions presented each time you park to spot wear patterns as they develop. Specifically, any type of wear rate other than a steady consistent wearing away of the tread can signal problems with inflation levels or alignment. Be sure to look across the entire tread surface. A tire tread that appears good on the outside edge may have substantial wear on the inside. You can also rub your hand over the tire surface to feel for signs of tread feathering or other irregularities. Some wear patterns develop normally and can be remedied by rotating the tire to a different position. Others signal that it’s time for an alignment of your vehicle or trailer (yes, trailers need alignment, too). Proper alignment has a lot of advantages. Your vehicle will steer straighter, making it more relaxing to drive. Since your tires aren’t “scrubbing” against the pavement, fuel economy will increase a bit. Tires will run more quietly without the noise generated by irregular wear. The biggest benefit is gaining the maximum tread life from your tires; unchecked wear patterns can greatly reduce tire life.

• SIDEWALLS. Seems like every road trip includes potholes and construction zones strewn with debris that you can’t avoid. Check your sidewalls for gouges from road debris or curb damage. Bulges or waviness in the sidewall can signal a failure of the sidewall belts that can be caused by a hard impact. You can also check for small cracks in the sidewall. Depending on the depth and frequency, the cracks may be a normal aspect of the tire aging, or a sign that a tire must be replaced. It’s best to check with a tire dealer for their insight on sidewall cracks.

Observe RV tires

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2 Comments

  • THIS WAS A GOOD ARTICLE, BUT I THINK GIVING A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION TO TRAVEL TRAILERS & 5TH. WHEELS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED BY THOSE OF US WHO AREN’T RICH ENOUGH TO OWN CLASS A OR B MOTOR HOMES. WHAT IS THE LIFE SPAN ON TIRES BEFORE THEY SHOULD BE REPLACED??? WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR AND DO YOU HAVE INFO. ON PLACES TO STAY AWAY FROM WHEN PURCHASING NEW TIRES??

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