You got your car or truck’s tires rotated before, possibly many times depending on how old your vehicle is. Your RV needs the same treatment. Given the size of many RVs compared to cars or trucks, you’re not sure if you need to rotate the tires more frequently or less so. How often should you rotate your RV’s tires?
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 depth and wear evenly across all four wheels so one tire is less likely to fail prematurely.
We have lots of great information to share ahead about RV tire rotation, including how to do it and more reasons why you should. Whether your RV is brand new or you’ve had it for a while, you’re not going to want to miss this!
What Is a Tire Rotation?
First, let’s talk about the basics of tire rotation. As we alluded to in the intro, rotating your tires is something you must do with any vehicle you frequently drive, from everyday cars and trucks to RVs of any size.
To rotate the tires of a vehicle means to change their positioning. For instance, your left rear RV wheel might now become your right front wheel or vice-versa. You can even make the tires switch sides.
Tire rotation isn’t done at random. Rather, there are specific patterns you should follow when rotating your tires to ensure efficiency. Let’s discuss those patterns now.
Basic Rotation Pattern
The most basic tire rotation pattern involves side-to-side and diagonal tire rotation. The front wheels would become the back wheels. You’d also switch the back left wheel with the top right wheel and the back right wheel with the top left wheel.
Alternate Rotation Pattern
The alternate rotation pattern entails the front and rear wheels shifting sides, but you don’t do a diagonal exchange with this pattern.
Directional Rotation Pattern
To accommodate for tire tread, the directional rotation pattern moves the tires on the same side of the vehicle they were on. You can either exchange the left front and rear tires or the right front and rear tires.
Five-Tire Rotation Pattern
No vehicle drives on five tires, yet a five-tire rotation pattern exists. This puts the spare fifth tire into play.
With a five-tire rotation, you take the front left-side tire and switch it with the rear left-side tire. Then the rear left-side tire exchanges with the front right-side tire. The rear right-side tire switches with the front left-side tire.
The spare tire goes where the new front right-side tire is and that tire becomes the new spare tire.
Side-Staggered Rotation Pattern
The side-to-side staggered tire rotation pattern entails switching tires from one side to another. For instance, the front left tire and the front right tire go on opposite sides, as do the rear left tire and the rear right tire.
Dual-Wheel Rotation Pattern
The last tire rotation pattern is for dual-wheeled vehicles such as commercial trucks. Even though you don’t use this tire rotation pattern for your RV, it’s still good to know about it in case it ever becomes applicable to you.
With a dual-wheel rotation pattern, the front left wheel switches with the first back left rear wheel. You also exchange the first and second back rear wheels with one another. The front right wheel switches with the second back right rear wheel. Again, both rear wheels on the right side swap as well.
How Often to Rotate RV Tires?
Now that you better understand the ins and outs of tire rotation, how often should you rotate your RV tires?
When your odometer hits 6,000 to 8,000 miles, it’s time for a tire rotation. It just so happens that you should get your RV tires rotated as often as you should your everyday car or truck. Thus, it’s easy enough to remember when to schedule a tire rotation!
Why Rotate Your RV Tires? 5 Reasons to Schedule Your Tire Rotation
RV tires are available in a multitude of types, from Special Trailer or ST tires to Light Truck or LT tires, radial tires, and bias tires. Even still, none of these tire tires are impervious to the damages of the road.
Rotating your tires will help you get more years out of them. Here are five benefits you can enjoy.
Create Even Wear
One of the biggest benefits of rotating your RV tires is distributing wear more evenly across all four or five (or six) wheels. Since the rear and front axles of your RV don’t weigh the same, the wear will be heavier on whichever side of the tires sustains the most axle weight.
In cars and trucks, that’s usually the front set of tires since the engine is in the front. For many RVs though, it’s the rear tires that sustain more weight since the engine in these vehicles is in the rear.
Besides axle and engine weight, how you drive can also wear down your tires. Every time you make a turn, the outside front tires experience more wear than the rear tires. If the traffic in your country is mostly in the right lane, then the left front tires bear the brunt of your right-hand turns.
There’s no way to prevent certain tires from experiencing more wear than other sides. What you can do is switch the tires that are more worn to fresher ones. This way, all the tires experience wear more evenly.
This indeed means that you’ll have to replace all four or five of your RV tires at the same time rather than two at a time, but it’s what’s best for the wheels.
When your RV tires are past their useful lifespan because they’re unevenly worn, they begin to drag on the road each time you use them. This requires your vehicle to work harder on all your road trips.
You might notice that your RV’s fuel consumption begins to drastically decrease. Also, behind the scenes, your poor engine is ailing. RV engine failure is not an issue you want to have to deal with if you can avoid it, which you can with a tire rotation.
You log some seriously long hours driving in your RV. You enjoy being behind the wheel, but the fatigue you can experience makes it hard sometimes. You know what can make driving even harder? Uneven tire wear, especially considering it affects your vehicle’s performance.
What do we mean by that? Well, when your front or rear tires are unevenly worn, they can’t work seamlessly in conjunction with the fresher tires. This can lead to vibrations that you will feel in your steering wheel.
Driving is going to be even more uncomfortable and possibly painful. You’ll take frequent breaks and spend more time at rest stops than you will at national parks or campsites.
Saves Your Tires from Popping
It’s an RVer’s worst nightmare: one (or more) of your tires blows out when you’re on a four-lane busy highway. A tire blowout causes you to lose control of your vehicle. Your RV could go careering into other motorists or you could hit a tree, a guardrail, or whatever the nearest obstacle is. Your RV could even venture off the road.
We’re sure we don’t have to tell you what a dangerous situation this is, but we’ll do so anyway. Tire blowouts in an RV can lead to severe injuries and even loss of life.
Now, we’re not saying that tire blowouts can’t happen with fresh tires, especially due to poor driving technique or obstacles. However, a blowout is far less likely to occur with evenly worn tires.
Keep up Traction
All tires have grooves throughout that provide traction. Once those grooves disappear due to wear and tear, your tires can skid on slick surfaces such as wet roads. Driving during weather events becomes far riskier. You might have to curtail your RV travel, leaving it in your driveway more often than it’s out on the road.
How to Rotate RV Tires
You watched your odometer and determined it’s time to rotate your RV’s tires. You don’t have to do this yourself if you’re not comfortable. The mechanic who usually services your RV should be able to rotate the tires for you, no problem.
If you’re strictly a DIY type, here are the steps to follow to rotate your RV’s tires.
Step 1: Park your RV and Chock the Wheels
Select a place for tire rotation where you can work without interruption, such as your garage or a friend’s driveway. Once you put your RV in park, you want to insert wheel chocks under the four wheels to ensure your vehicle stays stationary.
Step 2: Determine Your Tire Rotation Pattern
How will you rotate your tires? That’s your choice, but we recommend reviewing the tire rotation patterns from the first section and selecting one that makes sense for your RV. At the very least, do the basic tire rotation pattern.
Step 3: Raise the Tire
Now that you know how you want to rotate your tires, it’s time to get started. With an RV leveler or a jack, elevate the tire. You want the tire high enough so that you can spin the wheel without the tire colliding into the asphalt or concrete.
Step 4: Remove the Tire
Since tire rotation is about repositioning your RV tires, none can stay attached where they are. You’ll need a standard tire wrench for undoing the lug nuts on each tire.
Step 5: Follow the Tire Rotation Pattern
Using your tire rotation pattern as your guide, put each tire on your RV in the correct position.
Step 6: Tighten the Tires
We hope you held onto those lug nuts, as you’re going to need them! Reattach them one by one with your tire wrench.
Step 7: Lower the Wheels and Remove the Chocks
Go one jack at a time and bring your RV tires back to ground level. Take off the chocks before you start driving.
Tips for Making Your RV Tires Last Longer
Rotating your RV tires is one task of many you can do to prolong their lifespan. The following tips will help you milk the most years out of your tires, saving you hundreds of dollars in the interim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RV tires require rotating every 6,000 miles and no later than 8,000 miles. You have your pick of tire rotation patterns, so select one that works for your RV and commit to rotating the tires. You’ll experience better performance, excellent traction, and more even wear for your time and trouble!