Wearing mismatched clothing is a big no-no for most of us. But when we let our RVs wear mismatched tires, most of us don’t think twice – until something like a tire blowout happens. Don’t let a roadside emergency teach you the importance of having a matching set of RV tires with correct load range. That’s what happened to me. Several months and almost a thousand dollars later, here’s what I learned about buying the right RV trailer tires for my 2010 Arctic Fox fifth wheel.
After two trailer tire blowouts in less than a year, we knew we had a problem. Our first strategy to determine the cause was to get our RV weighed at the Escapees Smart Weigh station in Livingston, Texas. When we mentioned the two blowouts to the weighmaster, she quickly pointed out the potential cause: we had three different load ranges on four trailer tires. Other than knowing we had “trailer tires”, we didn’t know if we had the right RV trailer tires.
Why Load Range Matters for the Right RV Trailer Tires
When you need answers, it’s wise to turn to people who know more than you do. To get to the bottom of this we had a chat with RV trailer tire expert Ron Russell of PerformanceTrailerBraking. Here’s what we learned about finding the right RV trailer tires.
Tires aren’t as much of an issue for passenger cars as they are for RVs. Why? Because according to Russell, our typical daily commute vehicles are being operated with a 20%-30% reserve load capacity. We just don’t carry that much in everyday life. But when we hit the road in our trailers, they’re almost fully-loaded to the vehicle’s maximum GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio). Blowouts are often a consequence of it.
If you’re unsure what GVWR means, don’t let the letters scare you. All that “GVWR” represents is the maximum weight a vehicle can carry, including passengers, cargo, fuel and the vehicle itself. Your RV’s GVWR is in your owner’s manual and probably on a small metal plate mounted to the outside of your RV. Once you know your trailer’s GVWR, you can shop for the right RV trailer tires. Your goal is to locate a tire and wheel combination that exceeds your trailer’s GVWR by at least 20%. This is your reserve load capacity.
For our own fifth wheel, Russell recommended a set of 10-ply ST225/75R15 tires with a load range E (recommended for trailers and ¾ and 1-ton trucks). The $800 price tag for a full set was shocking. However, I calmed down once I realized they offer more protection against blowouts and any resulting structural damage to our rig. Although they’re the most expensive tires we’ve ever purchased, they have heavier cord material, sidewalls and bead wire, plus a 20-30% reserve load capacity. This means that our new set of matching trailer tires will last longer than any others we’ve purchased in our nine years of full-time RVing.
When it comes to finding the right RV trailer tire, don’t rely on tire shops to sell you the correct ones. Typical tires shops sell many more passenger and LT tires than trailer tires. They can order your trailer tires but only the most popular ones available from distributors. Their sales reps just don’t have the same kind of trailer tire experience that industry experts like Russell or the Escapees Smart Weigh teams have. Thankfully, these experts are at your service to help you stay safe on the road, so don’t hesitate to turn to them before something bad happens.
About the Author:
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com.
Tom W. SC~ “I’d give you a +12 if I could. Coach-Net rep Haley and Coach-Net dispatch rep Leonard were great to work. They explained my options and got me the help I needed. ‘Fleet Service Center’ was dispatched to do the work. Their rep (Dave I think) was fantastic. Professional and very skilled. I couldn’t be happier. I will stay with Coach-Net as long as I RV and recommend it to everyone I have a chance to.”