RV care and upkeep
RV tire inflation affects safety and fuel economy
By Russ and Tina DeMaris
Jul 8, 2008, 16:29
One of the simplest and yet most critical RV maintenance issues is that of checking tire pressure. With fuel prices plenty high, we all can stand to see less of the fuel pump. By keeping your RV and tow vehicle tires inflated properly, you can gain as much as a whopping mile per gallon in fuel economy.
But a lot more is at stake: Under-inflation is a leading cause of RV tire failure. An under-inflated tire is a tire that will run hot. Running hot leads to dramatic expansion, and sidewall blowouts often results. Tires are expensive, but losing control and blasting Mo-Mo the Motorhome into oncoming traffic can just ruin your whole day.
What’s the Proper Inflation Level? First check your rig owner manual–it will show the specific recommended tires and their inflation rates. Lacking that, read the data stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
How to Check Tire Pressure: Get a good tire gauge. Experts recommend the “dial” type gauge (pictured) as they’re more reliable than the shirt-pocket-stick gauge. You can expect to pay a few dollars more, but the price is worth it.
Check your pressure with the tires COLD–that is, several hours after they were last driven on. Driving as little as a couple of miles can lead to erroneous readings. Read the tire pressure for each tire, and compare it to the recommended pressure. Write down the specific tire, and the difference between the actual pressure and the recommended pressure. For example, the reading in our picture shows 64 pounds. The recommended pressure for this tire is 80 pounds, so the tire is 16 pounds low. So, in our case, we’d write down the specific tire, and that it needs 16 more pounds.
Now drive to wherever you obtain air, and using your gauge, check the tire pressure again. Most likely it will read higher than when you started out. ADD the precise number of pounds each tire was low–even if this might appear to “over pressure” the tire. Tire readings are all based on “cold pressure” and allowances are made for road heat. NEVER deflate a hot tire to bring the pressure down “to what it should be,” just test them COLD and adjust as needed.
And on a related note: It seems like the more "storage" space we have in our RV, the more we tend to 'load it up.' Loading up the RV over the allowable gross vehicle weight puts you at odds with all types of equipment safety, including tires. We've known RVers who just keep sticking stuff in their rigs, heedless of how much they can really carry. If a tire blows, they want to blame the manufacturer, when the finger pointing may actually be better directed at themselves.
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