Most RV owners find out when they’re stranded that their RV doesn’t have a spare tire, and it’s estimated that 40% of RV owners have never checked their tire’s air pressure. On most trips over 200 miles, you will come across the carcass of a tire that failed usually due to incorrect tire pressure.
In addition to preventing tire failure there are other reasons to ensure correct tire pressure, including:
- Wear on wheel wells, tire flaps, wiring and fluid lines
- Poor handling
- Decreased fuel economy
So, when should you check your RV or trailer tire pressure?
- When tires are cold. If you have driven your RV one mile or more, let the tires cool for 3-4 hours prior to checking the air pressure
- Before or after storing your vehicle
- On long trips, every morning
- On short trips, before you leave and when you return
- At least once per month while the vehicle is in storage
Tires will lose 1-2 pounds per month. They are not perfectly sealed and it is natural for air loss to occur.
Do not exceed the tire pressure or weight capacity listed on the sidewall of the tire. RV manufacturers will list a recommended tire pressure on the door of the unit, but keep in mind this is their recommended tire inflation based on the vehicles weight when new. If you add extra tanks, accessories, racks, motorcycles, towing equipment or anything that adds weight to the RV, tire inflation will be affected.
A small amount of tire maintenance will go a long way. To help bring awareness to the importance of tire safety, Coach-Net is reminding RV owners to follow tire safety best practices. Proper care and maintenance of your vehicle’s tires can improve vehicle handling, fuel economy, increase the life of your tires and help protect you from avoidable breakdowns and accidents.
So how does it work if you install a monitoring system on your coach, and you happen to tow a newer model with its own factory-installed tire monitor? You can’t read that from inside the coach while towing, and will the coach systems allow satellite sensors over the toad’s built-in ones?
Yes, you can install tire monitors over factory monitors. I have done so on last two motorhomes without problems.
If you install external sensors on your toad but sure to remove them before driving through a car wash. The sensor may extend far enough to hit the rail guides or be snagged by the rotating brushes. This could result in the OE valve/sensor being damages. Replacing the OE sensor can cost $50 to $100.
We just recently purchased our first RV and have read many articles about tire pressure and one critical ingredient in determining appropriated tire pressure is the weight on the tire. I have been trying to find a place to have the RV weighed but so far no luck and this is shocking given how important the weight appears to be in determining the appropriate tire pressure. Thanks
An alternative, while not as accurate but much better than nothing, is to go to a truck stop and use their axle scale (CAT Scale). The coach steer axle and drive axles can be weighed separately as can normally the tag axle by proper positioning on the scale. At least it is closer than guessing.
Recreational Vehilce Safety and Education Foundation. Google it for the adress and phone number. This company attends RV rallies and for a very nominal fee weighs each wheel position, gives a printed copy to you and discusses tire pressure and loading. For accurate data, have full fuel, full water, full propane, holding tanks empty and both driver and passenger in the coach. I recommend having yourt coach weighed by RVSEF at least yearly because of changes to load etc. RVSEF has been around the RV world for a loooooong time and is a very reputable company.
Personally, I think most experienced coach owners would not agree with having RVSEF weigh them annually. Perhaps I might if I was right on the edge of my GVWR and had unusual loading changes every year. For most of us one efficient RVSEF exam should suffice to zero us in on our rig’s status in the weight dept. In our case for example, our normal full status is still more than a ton and a half lower than our capacity. But the RVSEF numbers when our coach was new revealed a 1500lb. variance between the sides of the rear axle (a common phenomenon), prompting what little loading modification I could do, but more importantly resulting in my making sure all four tires back there reflected pressures appropriate for the heaviest side.
Since it can take awhile to catch up with an RVSEF venue, you can in the interim take the coach to a State highway scale or a truck stop that has commercial scales, and at least weigh the entire rig and individual axles, and perhaps your towed car (toad). Optimally each wheel should be weighed, such as RVSEF’s technique, but at least you will have an idea how close your axle weights are to the GAWR on your placard. In some scale configurations you can drive individual wheel points on to define it even better, but it isn’t nearly as accurate as having RVSEF do a precision job of it.
In my State of Oregon, it is common to come across weigh stations, along State highways, that are unmanned or are not busy with trucks. The scales are left on when no one is home so you are free to drive on and take a reading off a display, usually on a post in front of you, If manned, they are happy to let you check your weights, but I wouldn’t do it when they are backed up with commercial traffic like is often the case on freeway stations.
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I agree. I had RVSEF give me the individual tire position loading. I then can use those figures to establish the axle loading which can easily be checked at truck stop scales just to be sure my weight hasn’t changed significantly.
The original article should have clearly stated the importance of weighing at least the axles and preferably the individual wheels. The day we bought our motorhome back in 2004 we immediately went across the road to a CAT weigh station for an axle weigh. A few months later we had an individual wheel weigh done at an Escapees RV Club Rally done by RVSEF and found we were 500 lbs overweight on one rear side. We re-adjusted our load on the spot. We were full-timers then, had a bunch of stuff, but our pressure guidelines (per Michelin guide) were just 106 in front and 104 in the rear. A far cry from the 120 PSI max posted on the tires.
It is amazing (and scary) how many people just read the pressure limits on their tires and use that to pressurize. Shame on the dealers for letting folks leave their lots so uninformed.
It is important that RV owners realize the important difference between setting inflation according to load and using Load/Inflation tables for motorhomes and that towables have different needs due to unique tire stress loading. Towables still need to confirm they are not overloading their tires but they can lower the tire “Interply Shear” force by running the pressure molded on the tire sidewall. You can Google “Interply Shear RV tires” if you want to learn more.