Take care of your tires, and they will take care of you
RV travellers who ignore tire checks could face dire consequences when their towables and motor-homes are driven over long-distances at highway speeds
Remember when you used to wheel your vehicle into service stations to be greeted with a friendly, “Fill ‘er up?” Did you often reply, “Yes, please – oh, and can you check the tires?
Then along came self-serve gas and the regular tire onceover went out the window.
But the convenience of gas-up-and-go self-service comes at a price. Gone are the checks for low tire pressure, uneven tire wear or those little shimmies that warn us the vehicle is out of alignment. Gone, too, are regular service checks for the gradual wear and tear on sidewalls that warn of a weakening tire strength that may end up causing serious trouble.
RV travellers ignore those checks and warning signs at their peril because that serious trouble can turn deadly when their towables and motorhomes are driven over long distances at highway speeds, especially when they’re out of range of the nearest full-service gas station or emergency personnel.
My chat on the topic with Kal Tire Lower Mainland zone manager Jeff Reed was illuminating.
He said that although most RV owners are diligent about checking their rigs before leaving on a trip, some aspects of RV ownership make them more vulnerable to problems than other drivers.
“RVs often sit idle for much of the year, and when it comes to tires, eyeballing their condition isn’t enough,” Reed explained.
So if your RV has been sitting in the driveway since last fall, or if you’re thinking of buying a used RV, Reed recommends you have a trusted tire expert inspect the tires – including the spare– for previous repairs, sidewall strength, tread wear and tire pressure before you commit to a purchase or set out on a trip. That half-hour could save lives.
Although Kal Tire says it’s essential to have the right type of tire on your rig, tire selection for a layperson can be confusing. With hundreds of brand names, sizes and specifications to choose from, for RVers to buy tires based on price alone is an unwise decision.
“Many drivers don’t realize that although light truck tires are OK for Class A and Class C motorhomes, towables should be equipped with special trailer (ST) tires that help to eliminate dangerous trailer sway at highway speeds,” said Reed.
“Travellers also need to map out their routes and equip their RVs to account for the road and weather conditions they may encounter,” he said.
Recalling his days in the Kelowna office, Reed said rescuing RVers from the side of the road was a regular occurrence.
“After being on the road for five weeks in a rented RV, one family of German tourists – four kids and their parents – were stranded by a flat on the shoulder of the Coquihalla Highway, miles from anywhere. Luckily, someone thought to call us and we took a tire out, changed the flat and dealt with the paperwork after the immediate emergency was over. One more happy family,” he said.
When discussing load, it’s important to distribute the weight of your possessions evenly throughout. Make allowances for the weight of full water and waste tanks and match tire choices to the maximum load rating of the rig.
For legal liability and insurance reasons, once you have packed the RV with everything needed for the trip, it’s a good idea to go to your nearest weigh-scale to be sure you haven’t exceeded your RV’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
So there you are – choose the right tire for the job, treat them well and they’ll be there for you when you need them.