You put your RV tires through a lot each season, which is why you try to treat them like gold whenever they’re not rolling along the latest stretch of highway you’re exploring. Even still, you know the tires won’t last forever, but you’re not certain when it’s time to change yours. What is the average lifespan of RV tires?
RV tires will wear down and need replacing in about three to six years. Through care and maintenance, you might be able to moderately extend their life, but beware of leaving the same tires on for too long. They won’t offer suitable traction.
In this guide to RV tire duration, we’ll cover the types of RV tires and how long each lasts. We’ll also tell you how you’ll know when it’s time for new tires and how to change RV tires. There’s lots of great information to come, so let’s get started!
How Long Do RV Tires Last?
As you set out onto the open road yet again, the condition of your tires is always in the back of your mind. Provided you don’t drive into a deep pothole or get a nail punctured into your tire, how long will your RV tires last?
That depends on a multitude of factors, but the general lifespan of motorhome tires is between three and six years.
What are the factors that allow some tires to last twice as long as others? Let’s go over them now.
If you purchased your RV brand-new, then you know the tires that come with it are new as well. For those who sniffed out a great deal on a used motorhome, now the age of your tires is a mystery. They could be two years old or seven years. Unless the seller disclosed this information to you, then you’re not at all sure.
This goes without saying, but the older your RV tires are, the less time you have with them.
Proper RV weight distribution is integral from a safety standpoint, but that’s not all. When one side of your motorhome bears the brunt of the weight, the tires on that side wear down at a much faster rate than the tires on the lighter side of the vehicle.
Even if you rotated the tires (which you really should if you’re not doing so already), this wouldn’t necessarily help them last longer. The fresher tires would wear down fast too. Before you know it, all four tires would necessitate immediate replacement.
When the weight on your RV is distributed correctly, the tires will still wear down, but not more on one side versus the other.
The type of weather your RV tires are exposed to plays a big difference in their lifespan as well. It’s one thing to drive through regular precipitation such as rainfall, but in snow and other more serious weather events, driving can put a strain on your tires.
Sunlight can also degrade the rubber of RV tires, wearing them away until they rot or develop cracks and holes. Keeping your tires protected from UV light is a must.
The world is such an exciting place, and you’d love to see it all. The roads that pave our country, as well as adjacent countries, are not the same. You might find yourself going from paved stretches of highway to dusty dirt roads and then back again. This does a number on your motorhome’s tires.
The terrain can also cause premature tire wear. When you’re traversing mountains or hills frequently in your RV, your tires have to work harder to ascend. Even braking down long hills can wear down the tires.
Many RVers give their motorhomes a break between the end of the year and early into spring of the next year. Before your vehicle idles, you’re supposed to winterize it, and that requires caring for the tires too.
You shouldn’t keep RV tires directly on the ground or dirt, as the ground temperature is close to the frigid air temperature. As the ground freezes and thaws and then freezes and thaws again, the rubber of the tires can become damaged.
Remember, your RV tires should be kept away from UV light, so they should ideally be covered. You also must test the air pressure every couple of months, even if you’re not using the tires.
Yet another factor that can influence the life of your RV tires is your personal driving style. Do you put in long hours on the road to reach your destination faster or do you take lots of breaks? Are you a pedal-to-the-metal type of driver or do you ride easier?
Depending on how you answer those questions, your tires could be in great condition for quite a while or need replacing sooner.
Types of RV Tires and Their Lifespans
There is technically one more factor that can determine the lifespan of your RV tires, and that’s the type of tires you have. The various types of tires are as follows so you can choose the right tires.
1. Nitrogen-Filled Tires
Since nitrogen molecules have less permeability and a greater size compared to oxygen molecules, the new fad is to fill RV tires with nitrogen rather than gas.
Outdoor temperatures don’t affect nitrogen-filled tires to the same degree. Even in extreme conditions, these tires are supposed to be just dandy.
Nitrogen tires maintain their air pressure for longer since the nitrogen drains out slower than oxygen does. You’ll have to refill your tires far less frequently.
However, before you can start filling your motorhome tires with nitrogen, you have to completely purge them of oxygen. This means filling, draining, and filling again two to three times (or more).
Nitrogen-filled RV tires last about as long as average RV tires.
2. Bias Tires
Bias-ply or bias tires feature nylon belts that crisscross at angles between 30 and 45 degrees from the centerline of the thread and then overlap. The result is an X-shaped tread.
If you’re looking for RV tires that can handle a lot of weight, the design of bias tires strengthens their sidewalls. However, putting all that pressure on bias tires isn’t healthy for them long-term. You might only get 12,000 miles out of these RV tires before they’re no good.
3. Radial Tires
The third type of RV tire is the radial tire. This time, the cord plies are at 90 degrees rather than 45 degrees, which provides a radial travel direction, hence the name. Radial tires are known for their excellent stability and durability.
The sidewalls of radial tires are quite flexible and built for wear and tear, although not as much pressure as bias tires. Radial tire sidewalls can even reduce your rolling capacity and sometimes the fuel consumption of your RV as well.
Although they’re more expensive (especially when compared to bias tires), radial tires can last for up to 40,000 miles, which is not too shabby.
4. LT Tires
LT is short for Light Truck, a type of RV tire that’s also applicable to SUVs and pickup vans. The ability to withstand stress and high loads makes LT tires a standout for certain. That said, the durability and reliability of LT tires are less than ST tires, which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
LT tires can last upwards of six years.
5. ST Tires
That brings us to ST tires, which means Special Trailer. Despite the name, ST tires are usable on RVs.
The sidewalls of ST tires are durable enough that the tire can’t shift from the rim, even if you turn hard on the road. Heavy loads are no big deal for ST tires due to the inclusion of polyester cords throughout. Steel wires support ST tires as well to increase their tensile strength and diameter.
All this makes for one durable RV tire that can withstand up to 12,000 miles before you need to get new ones.
How do I Know if my RV Tires Need Replacing?
Besides the age of your RV tires, several other indicators can let you know that you need to buy new tires ASAP. Regular inspection is key to preventing tire failure.
Deformities and Damage
The next time you inspect your motorhome tires, keep your eyes peeled. Do you see any cuts or bulges? Is one end of the tire very bald compared to the other? This tire is no longer in usable condition even if it’s not all that old.
Valve Stem Damage
You can’t inflate your RV tire if the valve stem is broken, cracked, or otherwise damaged. While inspecting your tires, always give the valve stem a once-over as well. You will have to replace your whole tire if the valve stem is destroyed.
Did you roll over a nail on your last road trip without even realizing it? Maybe it was a sharp stone or a thick branch that punctured your RV tire. You can get the tire patched depending on where the damage occurred. If it’s a sidewall puncture though, you’ll need to buy a new tire rather than patch it.
Low Tread Depth
All tires have a tire tread, which allows for traction and grip. If the tread of your RV tires is at 2/32 of an inch, the tires are too worn down to continue driving on. You should always have at least 4/32″ of tread depth.
You can use a penny to test your motorhome tire’s tread. All you have to do is insert the penny into the tread so its front faces you. If Lincoln’s head shows, the tire tread is too low.
How Much Does an RV Tire Cost?
You’ll inevitably shell out for a new RV tire or two, but exactly how much are you going to pay per tire? The price for motorhome tires starts as low as $165 and can cost upwards of $400.
If you replace the RV tire yourself (more on this in the next section), then you only have to spend money on the tire. For those who’d rather let a pro take care of it, you’ll also have to pay additional labor and installation fees.
How do you Extend the Life of RV Tires?
1. Regular Tire Rotation
Rotating RV tires is one task of many you can do to prolong their lifespan. Plan to rotate your RV’s tires every time you rack up 6,000 to 8,000 miles on your road trips. Rotating the tires can maintain the tread wear evenly across all four wheels so one tire is less likely to fail prematurely.
To read more about tire rotation, click here.
2. Don’t Let the Tires Lose Air Pressure
We’ve discussed this on the blog before, but we want to mention it again now. Before you embark on any road trip and whenever you come back, you want to test the air pressure of your RV tires. Use a tire pressure gauge. Check the sticker on your RV, as this will tell you what psi you want it to be at.
If the pressure is lower than it should be, inflate the tires. Even one underinflated tire can snag on a stick or a loose piece of asphalt in the road and then deflate, more than likely causing an accident
When you store your RV for the offseason, your tires can’t be out of sight and out of mind. You need to continue testing tire pressure at least monthly and reinflating if necessary.
3. Watch Which Cleaners You Use
RV tires, as we’ve established, are far from impervious to damage. Harsh chemical cleaners with petroleum or alcohol can begin to degrade the rubber, which will force you to replace your tires sooner than later.
If you must use something more than soap and water on your RV tires, buy a gentle cleaner. Limit the amount of elbow grease you put into cleaning the wheels too, so you don’t damage them.
4. Keep Your RV Tires Active
You might assume that leaving your RV tires in storage will prolong their life, but it’s just the opposite! Drive your RV whenever you can. You don’t want to leave the tires idling in storage for more than six months.
5. Use Tire Covers
Purchase quality waterproof, UV resistant tire covers to protect them from the elements and weather cracking.
Related Reading: How to keep tires in good condition?
In Case of a Blowout
In the unfortunate chance that you get a flat tire on the side of the road, you should routinely check your spare tire to ensure it is in working condition if needed. In addition, make sure have jack stands to assist you in tire changing.
RV Tire Replacement
You’re a DIY type of fellow or lady, so replacing your RV tires sounds exciting to you. Plus, acquiring this skill will make it easier to maintain your RV, so you’d like to learn.
Before you get started, you’ll need tools and equipment such as a tire wrench or lug wrench, an RV leveler, and RV jacks.
Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Park Your RV in a Quiet, Spacious Area
Whether it’s an empty parking lot, your driveway, or the cul-de-sac you live on, you want a quiet, generously sized area to exchange your RV tire. Traffic should be at a minimum so other motorists aren’t obstructed by your RV. Avoid campsites and parks if you can.
Step 2: Raise the RV
You can’t take the tire off at the elevation your RV is parked. Using your leveler or jacks, raise up the motorhome little by little until the tire is completely off the ground.
Step 3: Detach the Lug Nuts
Each of your RV tires is held together with lug nuts. Your tire wrench can easily undo each lug nut. Be careful about where you store the nuts in the interim, as you’ll need them again very soon.
Step 4: Remove the Tire
With the lug nuts detached, the tire should come off easy-peasy. Now that it’s no longer attached to your RV, you can see much more easily what bad shape it was in. Set aside the tire, as you’ll have to find an environmentally conscious way to dispose of it.
Step 5: Put the New Tire into Place
Where the old RV tire was, your new one should go. Take each of the detached lug nuts and screw them back in to secure the new tire.
Step 6: Lower the RV
The last step is to bring all four tires of your RV to ground level. Take off the jack or leveler and you’re ready to start driving.
RV tires can last between three and six years, sometimes longer if you care well for yours. The best way to maintain RV tires is to test their air pressure monthly, rotate the tires once or twice per year, store them away from the elements, and avoid harsh cleaners with alcohol. Good luck!