Motorists often neglect to think about the objects that keep their vehicles rolling down the road in comfort and safety. RV owners are no exception to this rule, and in some cases are less likely to pay attention to the tires on their rigs. Even though tires are definitely not “out of sight”, they do tend to be “out of mind” for many people. Yet, the importance of keeping your RV tires in top shape cannot be overstated.
There are three main factors to consider when thinking about tires on any vehicle. These are age, condition, and inflation pressure. For passenger vehicles, tires usually wear out before they age out. In other words, most drivers wear out the tread on their tires before the tires wear out due to age. However, for RVs, the reverse is generally true. Because RV owners, even full-timers, generally put far fewer miles on their rigs than passenger vehicles are subject to, tires on RVs usually get old before the tread wears down. This is a significant point, because even when RV owners have the wherewithal to inspect their tires, they often only pay attention to tread depth and condition, rather than also being aware of the age of the tire.
Depending on the manufacturer, the average recommended life for motorhome tires is seven to ten years, and five years for trailer tires. However, it is important to consult your tire manufacturers website or visit your local tire retailer for specific information. All tires have a date code stamp on the sidewall. The DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that Tire Identification Numbers (TIN) be a combination of the letters “DOT”, followed by eight to thirteen letters and/or numbers that identify the manufacturing location, tire size, and manufacturers code, along with the week and year the tire was manufactured.
Since 2000, the week and year the tire was manufactured has been identified as the last four digits of the TIN, with the first two of those digits being the week of manufacture, and the last two being the year of manufacture. In the example above, the tire was manufactured in week 51 of 2007.
For tires manufactured prior to 2000, it should be noted that there should not be any tires of this vintage running on RVs today. For these tires, it was assumed at the time that they would not be in service for ten years. While they were required to have the same information as the tires produced today, the week and year the tire was manufactured was contained in the last three digits. The first two digits are the week of manufacture, and the last digit was the year.
In the example above, the tire was manufactured in week 40 of the 8th year of the decade. In this case, that would be 1998, but unfortunately there is no indicator of which decade the tire was manufactured in. Fortunately, as indicated earlier, there should be no tires of this vintage rolling on RVs today.
Experiencing a tire blowout can be a terrifying event, especially on an RV. To minimize the risk of this happening, it is important to regularly inspect your tires, and know the exact manufacture date as indicated by the TIN. During your inspection, check for tire damage, especially to the sidewalls. Look for cuts, gouges, severe scuffing, abrasions, foreign objects embedded in them, etc. Based on information from the manufacturer and/or tire retailer, determine the recommended tire life and replace your tires based on that information.
Next month, I will continue the subject of tires and discuss proper inflation pressure and trailer tires.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.
Karl P. UT~ “Kurt from Quality Tire was exceptional. He came and pulled both sets of back tires. The inside tires on both sides of our motor home had 0 pressure. Both Valve stems had been damaged for some reason. He replaced the valve stems on both tires, checked and filled all 6 tires to correct pressure. He was a pleasant and pleasurable person to work with. We were called by Coach-Net several times to make sure everything went as it was supposed to. Thank you to all the Coach-Net Representatives and to Kurt from Quality tire. It took something that was a pain and made it a pleasure.”