Selecting & Maintaining RV Tyres to Stay Safe
With a new year of road trips ahead, I thought it would be timely to discuss tyres as an important safety topic that is easily overlooked.
With a new year of road trips ahead, I thought it would be timely to discuss tyres as an important safety topic that is easily overlooked. KT Insurance’s Marketing Manager, David Carter, has a solid background in the tyre industry and automotive tech in general, so I’ll let him take the reins here for those of you who didn’t get a chance to pick his brain at the recent National Rally in Bingara, NSW.
“As the only points of contact between a vehicle and the surface it’s travelling over, tyres play a crucial role in performance and safety,” David begins. “This is true for any vehicle, but especially important for RVs that are usually driven well within their capabilities without pushing tyres too hard… until an emergency manoeuvre suddenly demands peak performance from a relatively heavy vehicle. For this reason, it’s important to select the right tyres for your application and keep an eye on their condition, and I’m not just talking about how much tread they have left.”
“The RVSafe YouTube channel has a great video on caravan and motorhome tyres,” David continues, “so I won’t double up on that too much, but I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important to check your tyres’ condition and inflation pressures before each trip. Take a close look for any signs of damage while checking the amount of tread remaining against the minimum tread depth indicators, which are a series of humps found at the bottom of the tread grooves that mark the minimum legal tread depth in Australia of 1.6mm. While you’re there, you should also check the age of your tyres by reading the last 4 digits of the serial number, with the example image courtesy of RVSafe showing 4918 (H), which means that tyre was manufactured in the 49th week of 2018. As a general rule, tyres should be regularly inspected once they’re more than 5 years old and replaced before they reach 10 years old, but rubber is an organic material, so tyres can age more rapidly when they’re out in the weather.”
“When your tyres are due for replacement,” David adds, “it’s a great opportunity to think about what will work best in your application. For example, many CMCA members with 2WD RVs at the recent National Rally in Bingara were concerned about getting bogged when parked on soft surfaces in wet weather. All-terrain 4X4-style tyres may be a worthwhile investment for a bit of extra traction if you like to head off the beaten track and can find them in your size, but others who may aim to avoid these scenarios could be better served by a more road-oriented tyre that will provide greater comfort and better sealed road performance. Either way, you’ll likely be shopping for light-truck-construction or commercial tyres that are reinforced to comfortably handle the weight of an RV, and matching tyres on all positions on the vehicle or at least on the same axle is strongly recommended for stability. Whatever pattern and construction you choose, it’s still not a bad idea to have recovery solutions on hand just in case, like 4x4 recovery boards that can be placed under driven tyres for additional traction or suitable tow straps and rated recovery points that can safely handle the weight of your RV if it needs to be towed out.”
“Anyway, back to tyres!” exclaims David. “Looking again at the reference image from RVSafe, it’s important to match the width (B), aspect ratio (C) and rim diameter (D) to the tyre size recommended by your RV’s manufacturer. Light-truck-construction tyres will usually have an ‘LT’ designation before the tyre size while commercial tyres will have usually a ‘C’ at the end. It’s also crucial to meet or exceed the minimum load (F) and speed (G) ratings for your vehicle. Load ratings are particularly critical and it’s worth highlighting that the load carrying capacity of a tyre, and therefore your vehicle, is heavily influenced by inflation pressure. Load ratings like those listed in the attached table courtesy of RVSafe are calculated at a tyre’s maximum inflation pressure, but lower inflation pressures mean a lower load carrying capacity, similar to air suspension.
Being overinflated can reduce performance and comfort, but underinflation is far more likely to result in tyre failure by generating excessive heat. So, it’s safer to air up when you load up, and it’s perfectly safe to run a tyre at or near its maximum inflation pressure, which heavier loads can often demand. In addition to the pressure advice provided by your RV’s manufacturer on the tyre placard, most premium tyre manufacturers will also be happy to calculate ideal inflation pressures for their products based on the axle weights of your vehicle as measured at a weighbridge when fully loaded.”
“If you’re not sure about any of these topics, your local tyre store will be happy to check your tyres for you,” David concludes. “If no issues are found, it’s at least a good opportunity to have your tyres rotated to a different position to combat uneven wear, which should ideally be done every 10,000km to maximise longevity and minimise noise. It’s recommended to include your spare tyres in these regular rotations too, allowing all tyres to wear and be replaced together.”
I hope that you found David’s discussion on tyre safety informative. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out via the KT Insurance Facebook or Instagram, or via email to email@example.com.