Do not drive with underinflated RV tires! We have some critical advice to save you lots of grief.
One of the most important but neglected parts of your RV: your tires. There is nothing more frightening than having a tire blow out while you are driving at highway speeds. Studies show that more than 30 percent of us drive with underinflated RV tires.
In an RV it is dangerous.
Here's a video version of this article that we posted on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, showing the items we mention.
If tire pressure is too low, too much of the tire's surface area touches the road, which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tires to overheat, which can lead to premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts.
Underinflated RV tires lead to tire blow outs
I just came back from LTM Truck and Trailer in Pontiac, MI, the place where we have our Class C Leisure Travel Vans Wonder motorhome serviced. I had a slow stem valve leak on my outer rear passenger side tire that I had them repair.
It's hard finding repair facilities with doors tall enough and lifts strong enough to handle the weight of an RV. I asked Tim Marriott, the owner, how big of a problem underinflated tires are, particularly on an RV.
He took me out back and showed me a blown tire that had just been removed that morning from a Jeep. “The tire pressure warning system activated and showed a low air pressure warning,” said Tim. “Less than 3 minutes later, this is what happened. It completely blew. It hadn't gone more than a half-mile and there wasn't even time to pull over.
I told Tim we had planned to do a story on the problems of underinflated RV tires. “It's a very big deal,” he said. “A serious safety issue”
To avoid underinflated RV tires, check the pressure regularly
So the first thing we need to talk about is knowing what your RV tire pressure should be, and then what it is.
What it should be is supposed to be prominently displayed on a sticker on the driver’s side doorjamb of most Motorhomes.
The simplest way to know their current state is with a tire pressure gauge. The experts tell us we should all get in the habit of regularly checking our tires, especially when starting a trip.
Get a TPMS System
Clearly, a tire pressure gauge belongs in every RV.
But there is a better way. You should consider having what is known as a TPMS—- a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
Some RVs come with them built-in as standard safety equipment. We’re lucky, on our Leisure Travel Vans Wonder we have one that came as standard safety equipment and displays a readout we can check at anytime to get realtime status reports on all six of our tires.
If a tire gets too low, it sounds an alert and flashes a message, showing which tire is underinflated.
But if you don't have a TPMS as part of your RV, there are DIY kits that are so easy to add that we really want to recommend you seriously consider getting one.
A while ago I did a video review for RV.com and I showed the Tireminder 77-6. The six is for 6 tires, but you can get a system that will handle up to 22 if you tow a fifth wheel or trailer.
It's wireless. You screw sensors on the valves of each tire. Each is battery-powered. And they transmit to a receiver unit both the pressure and the temperature in each of your tires,
You can mount the receiver with a suction cup anywhere in the RV. This system is expensive – $429 – but if you don't already have a TPMS in your RV, this is what you want.
Here's the video review I did:
To avoid underinflated RV Tires, invest in a portable air compressor
You should never drive your RV if the tire pressure is more than 15 pounds under the suggested setting, except in an emergency and for very short distances. Be safe and know your tire pressure.
That's why we invested in a portable air compressor. You never know when a tire is going to get low.
The air compresdor we have is the Viair 40047-400P RV model. The RV means it is made for RVs and the unit is powered by jumper cables that attach to the battery of your vehicle.
It comes in a sturdy canvas bag and has all the accessories, including a hose, inflators, and a pressure gauge. It is very easy to hook up and operate.
The unit costs $314 and while there are certainly less expensive models I chose the Viair because of all the positive reviews I found from other RVers. For us, the peace of mind we have in knowing we can always have properly inflated tires wherever we are makes the cost a wise investment.
If you do break down, use emergency flares
There’s one more item we want to recommend should you get a flat or somehow be stuck on the side of the road — Hokena LED Road Flares.
There are 3-flare and 5-flare kits to choose from and all the lights are very bright. You can set them to flash, send an SOS or display a steady light.
You can even use them as a flashlight. The company says they can be seen for more than a mile.
They come in a compact case and the kit also includes two mylar emergency blankets and a rescue tool that can break automotive glass and cut seatbelts. The cost is $35.