Your bags are at the door. You’ve mapped your route. The RV is packed. Before you head south for the winter, remember to take care of the tires that are going to get you there.
It always happens at the most inconvenient times: on a snowy, narrow mountain pass, on a Sunday night 60 kilometres from the next town, or a mere hour into your three-day journey south. With all the kilometres and pressures we put on our RV tires, getting the odd flat tire is considered part of this mode of travel, but there are ways to help prevent flat tires in the first place, and ways to be prepared when it happens.
PREVENTING FLAT TIRES:
Check the pressure
Before you begin packing up your RV or motorhome, have the air pressure checked on all of your RV tires, including the spare tire. RV’s often sit for long periods of time before they move onto the highway, and between trips, tires can lose a significant amount of air pressure.
Under-inflation is one of the most common causes of flat tires, and it can also lead to uneven tire wear as well as poor handling and fuel economy.
If you have a travel trailer, once it’s fully loaded, be sure to weigh each axle to confirm that the gross vehicle weight (GVW) matches the recommended tire pressure.
Check for weathering
Depending on how and where they’re parked, RV’s can be exposed to the elements, and that can impact a tire’s condition. Inspect the sidewalls for cracking, feathering and fading. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause the rubber to deteriorate, and weathered tires aren’t as fit to handle heavy loads at high speeds and hot temperatures.
Check the tread
While you might only have eyes for your sunny American destination, remember you may have to go through at least one Canadian snowstorm. To reduce the likelihood of a blowout and for optimum grip and handling in cold temperatures and on snow, ensure you have at least 3.5 millimetres or 4/32 inches of tread depth left on at least all-season M+S (mud and snow) tires.
PREPARING FOR FLAT TIRES:
The only thing worse than getting flat tire on the way south, is getting a flat tire late at night in the middle of nowhere and being unable to change it yourself. Fortunately, with the right equipment handy and a bit of know-how, you can usually get yourself back on the road in no time.
Check your ‘changing a spare tire’ equipment
Some RV’s come equipped with a standard jack and/or tire iron to help you remove a flat tire, but some models don’t. Be sure you know where your equipment is, and know exactly what you have.
In a best-case scenario, you would have on hand:
- Accessible, well-inflated spare tire in good condition
- Jack or ride-on ramp
- Chock (for double-axle trailers and to keep other tires in place)
- Tire iron
- Cones to place around your RV as a warning to other drivers
For your safety and to help ensure your tire can be repaired in the future, only use inflator kits and sealants after educating yourself on how and when to use these products . If you get a flat tire, the best thing to do is put on the spare and get your RV to the nearest tire service centre.
Practice changing a tire
Now that you have everything you need to change a flat tire, practice once or twice on the driveway so you’ll be confident if you need to do it on your own in an emergency.