Summer is just around the corner and all festival-goers and travellers will soon be ready to set off adventure seeking with their RV. However, before hitting the road it is important to install the right tires on your recreational vehicle. With that concern in mind, several important details must be taken into consideration when shopping for tires. From type and size of tires to inflation pressure, do not overlook any element before making your choice. See below all that you need to especially focus on.
Three types of tires are installed on the different vehicles found on our roads:
- Passenger vehicle tires: Passenger vehicles are the most commonly driven. Passenger vehicle tires are specifically designed to offer ride comfort and even more significantly road grip in a variety of climates, on different road surfaces and in all weather conditions.
- Light truck tires: The tires of this type of vehicle offer reinforced sidewalls to support heavier loads without reducing driving comfort. The design of these tires allows excellent road grip as well as easy handling in spite of the heavier load carried by the vehicle.
- RV and trailer tires: The tires for recreational vehicles and trailers have unique characteristics that set them apart from other types of tires. They are designed to offer a level of flexibility on the road and more specifically when taking curves and tight turns.
Given that each tire offers unique characteristics, its installation on the right vehicle is indispensable to ensure passenger safety and a smooth ride. This is the reason it’s not advised to install light truck tires on your RV, or the other way around, as this is sure to degrade handling performance and comfort.
Motorized recreational vehicles can be divided into three major classes with each their own characteristics. This being the case, knowing your VR’s class is essential for a tire selection compatible with your vehicle.
- Class A: consists of the heavier recreational vehicles; they vary in weight between 15,000 to 50,000 pounds. More often than not these motor vehicles are the size of a bus (25 to 45 feet).
- Class B: includes the less expensive RVs. They are lighter (6,000 to 8,000 pounds) and measure some15 to 19 feet. They’re often built on a light truck chassis and feature an elevated roof.
- Class C: These vehicles look a lot like the class A RVs, only smaller (20 to 31 feet), and more significantly they’re not as heavy (10 to 12 000 pounds). Their cabins often extend above the passenger compartment.
IS YOUR TRAILER FITTED WITH SHOCK ABSORBERS UNDER THE CHASSIS?
Your tire selection will also be contingent on whether or not your RV is fitted with shock absorbers under the chassis.
- If your RV is fitted with shock absorbers, you should pick radial construction tires. Your shock absorbers will reduce the bouncing effect on the road associated to this type of tire. Radial tires are in fact installed on luxury recreational vehicles since this construction, combined with shock absorbers, ensures a superior ride comfort.
- If your RV is not fitted with shock absorbers, conventional tires are recommended because their construction makes them less prone to bouncing. However you can still install conventional tires when your RV has shock absorbers.
PLAN AND FORESEE THE TYPE OF ENVIRONMENT YOU WILL ENCOUNTER
Your choice of tires also depends on the conditions that you expect to drive in. Some tires are more heat resistant while others offer superior adhesion in the rain or better traction in snow. Your driving environment will influence significantly your choice of tires.
For example, if you’re planning to visit the southern US in the middle of summer, severe heat conditions are a distinct possibility, so choose your tires accordingly. The reason is simple. Heat can cause rapid tread wear and increase the risk of tire failure on the road.
TAKE OUT YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL
The owner’s manual found in your RV provides a wealth of information concerning parts and specific maintenance guidelines.
This small guide provides information concerning the maker’s recommendations relative to tire size or other important elements. You should refer to this guide to save time whenever researching any question regarding your vehicle.
RV Tire Sidewall Markings
DATE CODE BRANDED ON EACH TIRE
To determine the age of your tire, begin by verifying the date branded on the tire’s sidewall. Appearing after the series of characters beginning by the three letters DOT, the date code is 3 or 4 digits long.
- The first two digits indicate the manufacturing week (from 01 to 52).
- The last two digits represent the manufacturing year.
For example: 3416 appearing on your tire means it was produced on the 34th week of 2016.
Even tires in storage or not in use will deteriorate with each passing year, hence the importance of keeping track of their manufacturing date.
You will also find on the tire’s sidewall branded information concerning the tire size; it is essential to comply with size requirements since taller or shorter tires could put your safety at risk:
- The first letters indicate the tire type:
- P for passager,
- LT for light truck
- ST for special trailer
- No such classification exists for buses and medium trucks.
- The digits that then follow and precede the slash correspond to the tire’s section width in millimetres.
- The digits following the slash represent the aspect ratio; after these digits the letter R appears for radial or D for diagonal ply (bias-ply).
- The series of characters ends with two digits that indicate the interior diameter of the tire or of the rim diameter expressed in inches.
So ST225/75D16 appearing on your tire sidewall signifies:
- ST : special trailer
- 225/75 : section width of 225 millimetres and a sidewall height ratio of 75%
- D : signifies a bias-ply tire
- 16 : 16 inches interior diameter or of the rim diameter.
LOAD CAPACITY RATING
The numeric code that represents the maximum load capacity authorized for your tire is also branded on its sidewall. This numeric code appears after the tire size code. The number represents the maximum inflation pressure that your tire can withstand.
For example, 96T
- 96: indicates that a tire inflated at maximum pressure has a load carrying capacity of 1,565 pounds.
- T: indicates the speed rating recommended in ideal driving condition. In this instance, T represents 190 km/h, i.e. 118 miles an hour.
Carrying an excessive load increases the risk of tire failure since the tires flattened by the weight will overheat, which will bring about a widening of their treads. Generally, after some time, the pressure build up in the tire will cause a blowout.
TIRE INFLATION PRESSURE
An adequate tire inflation pressure is essential when you take the road with any type of vehicle. In addition to boosting fuel efficiency and lessening tire wear, ensuring optimal tire pressure will also will enhance driveability as well as the vehicle’s overall performance.
Sidewalls are the first to suffer when tires are inflated improperly. Much like when the maximum load carrying capacity is exceeded, an under-inflated tire is somewhat flattened, which causes a widening of tires treads and increases drastically your risk of tire failure.
Generally you can learn about tire inflation pressure by checking your owner’s manual or the sticker in your vehicle’s door.
PRICES, QUALITY AND WARRANTIES
The tire that you return to the store under warranty will be meticulously examined. The specialist will be able to verify if the tire wear or failure was caused by a human error, a manufacturing default or any other type of problem related to the tire construction materials. The warranty will be voided if any anomaly is detected.
It goes without saying that the purchase and the maintenance of your RV represent a major investment. This is why compromising on tire quality to save a few pennies can prove unwise when you factor in safety considerations. Remember that the tire is the only contact your RV has with the road. In this sense, it is imperative to understand that when purchasing tires for your RV, the amount that you’re ready to spend will equate to a given tire quality and durability.
Of course, to guarantee a certain quality it is critical to comply with inflation pressure ratings and maintenance recommendations, driving speeds and other characteristics that impact tire lifespan. In addition, during periods of inactivity, your RV’s storage conditions could well prolong tire service life. To ensure an adequate environment, prefer a dark area where the RV is raised to limit the weight supported by the tires to keep them from eventually cracking.
In short, before setting off on the road, it is critical for both your safety and the avoidance of an array of problems to verify the condition of your tires or to purchase tires that are suited to your driving requirements. Tire pressure, tire type and size, as well as load capacity are all elements that you must carefully consider before purchasing. For more information on this subject, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts who will be happy to assist you.
Have a great summer !