Recreational vehicles are an exciting way to move around the country, bringing the comforts of home to the open road. The RV life saves you from booking hotels and finding restaurants, giving you the freedom to go where you want, when you want.
But with great freedom comes great responsibility, as maintenance is an essential aspect of having an RV. Maintaining RV tire pressure, in particular, is crucial to ensuring safe travels. Here’s how to make sure your tires are ready for the road.
The High and Low of Tire Inflation
Like any vehicle, RVs drive best with their tires properly inflated. Low tire pressure, which begins when the reading is 10% or more below the recommended pressure, can contribute to various problems. As more rubber touches the pavement, the tire temperature rises, which can lead to a blowout that causes you to lose control while driving.
Higher than normal tire pressure means there is less rubber touching the road, which can cause your RV to bounce while driving. This impacts traction and extends the time you need to brake to a full stop.
Both low and high tire pressure increases wear and tear on the brakes, the suspension system and the tires.
What Causes High or Low Tire Pressure?
One reason for tire pressure fluctuations is changing temperature. For every 10-degree shift in air temperature, the tire pressure moves up or down by one pound per square inch (psi). If you started your journey in the morning chill of the upper Midwest and then traveled to the Southwest’s deserts, the temperature difference could be 50 or 60 degrees, representing a 5 or 6 psi increase in pressure.
A slow leak is another possible contributor to air loss. You may need to get the tire patched or replaced before continuing on your journey.
How to Check RV Tire Pressure
Get into the habit of checking your RV’s tire pressure and getting them to their optimal level before any issues occur:
- Check when cold. Rotating tires create heat, which elevates tire pressure, so you should wait until the tires are cold to get an accurate reading. This means checking the tires at least three hours after your last trip.
- Connect the gauge. Check each tire by connecting your tire pressure gauge to the stem and observing the dial readout.
- Fix the pressure. If the pressure is too high, release excess air through the bleed valve. If you need more air, use a tire inflator to increase it to the manufacturer’s recommended level. That information is typically located on the driver’s door jamb or on the inside of the glove box. You can also check the owner’s manual.
- Remember dual tires. Many RVs have dual rear tires. To check the tire pressure on the inner wheels, you need to locate the valve stem through an opening in the outer wheels. Once you do, go through the previous steps again. Note that the recommended tire pressure for the outer and inner wheels may not be the same.
Always check RV tire pressure before you begin a long journey, including the spare. Then, check the pressure each morning before you head out for the day. Rotate and replace tires per the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that your adventures on the road aren’t interrupted by a blowout or a flat.
Check out all the tire maintenance products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on RV maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.