Travel Tips & Tricks

RV Tire Lessons: We learned the hard way!

Here are five things we think every RVer should consider when starting out on a full time, short term or long distance adventure. Granted, we’ve only been at it for two months, but we’ve learned how important tire maintenance and prevention is to a happy and successful trip.

1. Buy New Tires

When buying a used RV, buy new tires. This is true even if they look new. The only exception would be if your rig is less than three years old. You really don’t know how much traveling your RV has experienced and while the salesperson or former owner might share those details, you need to be very careful. Even if the rig hasn’t traveled much, starting off on a long term trip with tires that have set in the hot sun is a disaster waiting to happen. Take it from us! 

We bought a used Airstream that was six years old. We mistakenly thought the tires looked brand new. They weren’t. They were six years old, and based on the condition of the Airstream, hadn’t been driven much. Less than 500 miles from home, we had a blow out on a major interstate. Thankfully, our double-axel provided another tire for our rig to ride on until we stopped.

The horror stories we’ve heard since that time is that often the second tire blows when the first tire shreds. Once we got our tire changed, we took the tire store owner’s advice and replaced all the tires on our rig. We even bought a new spare, as well. We have since learned that the salesperson who sold us the RV should have recommended all our tires be replaced before we pulled out of the dealership. Overall, our tires were not a major expense when you consider the cost of the rig and the damage that can occur when you go sliding down the highway on METAL instead of rolling on your tires.

2. Have a Great Lug Nut Wrench

TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb.) | 24335
Tekton 1/2” Drive Click Torque Wrench

Make sure you have the tools necessary to change a tire effectively.  When we had a blow out, we were unable to change our own tire because the tool that came with the Airstream didn’t provide enough opportunity to apply force to loosen the lug nuts. We were stuck without the ability to change our tire, and we had no roadside assistance to help us.

The first thing we purchased after our five new tires was a wrench and socket that we could stand on to apply the force we needed to loosen the lug nuts. We researched the best one for the job, and we determined that the Tekton ½” Drive Click Torque Wrench was the best. Click on image to purchase your own. You want one you can actually step on or jump on to get the lug nuts loosened. This is key, but from what we know now, even a weaker person can change a tire if they have the right wrench.

Our best advice is to do a trial run and make sure you can manage the task of changing a tire before you set out on the road. We didn’t do this step, and it cost us big time. Do you remember when your parents made you change a tire to ensure you could do it before allowing you to take the family car? Do that again! Look over the tools you have and organize them for easy access in your rig. 

3. Buy a Jack (that’s a fact, Jack!)

Big Red Jack
Big Red Jack 10 Ton

Our Airstream didn’t come with a jack, so we purchased one after our blowout. Make sure you know where a jack can safely be used. You can’t just position a jack anywhere. You must place it in the exact spot your owner’s manual tells you. It is usually marked under your rig but get that figured out before you are on the side of the road. If you have a single axel or you blow both tires, you need a jack. Click on the image above to purchase what we have.

While you might have roadside assistance, you might also be in a location where changing the tire yourself is more prudent.

4. Have an Air Compressor & Gauge

Viair 400 P Portable Compressor
ViAir Compressor & Gauge

The last bit of advice on tires is to have an air compressor and gauge. Checking your tire pressure regularly is an important maintenance task and should be on your checklist. Once you are on your trip, finding stations or truck stops where you have room to pull in and add air can be a headache. We know by the time you get on the road, you’ll feel like you’ve purchased a million things, but this should be on the top of your list. Here’s the one we recommend. Get one that is portable and has a hose long enough to reach your tires. Ones specifically for RVs are best.

5. Have Roadside Assistance

Make sure you have roadside assistance on your rig. We were lackadaisical, and we didn’t think through this one. We had roadside assistance on our towing vehicle, but not our rig. Once our insurance company realized that they had two insured vehicles sitting on a major interstate with hardly a shoulder, they helped us get assistance, albeit we paid the full cost. You can check with your insurance carrier, AAA, or Good Sam. All offer great products.

Final thought…

These are five important considerations when starting out on an RV adventure. We are having a great time, and highly recommend traveling in an RV to see the country. While we’ve had some difficult learning on the road, the adventure we’re having has been so worth it. We are so glad we purchased our Airstream trailer, and we are so pleased with its performance. Of course, there are many more lessons we’ve learned, but these are five of the most important for all those considering buying or renting an RV.

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