Monitoring tire pressure is something that every trailer owner has to do. It is very important because it’ll help prevent tire blowouts and other tire related problems. Also, when the tire pressure is not right, the trailer can become shaky when moving at high speeds, affecting your entire experience. Therefore, making sure you have the correct tire pressure is essential for your road safety.
Usually, the ideal tire pressure is between 40 to 65 psi. However, these numbers are gotten from a broad range of travel trailer weights: between 1,500 to 15,000 lbs. Just take this as the average figures.
Some tire manufactures will also give their own specifications. However, a lot of times, these may not be accurate. Since under or over inflated tires can be dangerous, knowing how to find the right tire pressure is important to ensure a smooth, safe drive.
How to Determine the Proper PSI for RV Tires?
All tire manufacturers adhere to the load rating chart. This is a letter code that informs the purchaser how much weight a tire can carry. RV manufactures provide a loading chart that indicates the weight of the trailer and tire specifications that show what the tire pressure should be at a specific weight load.
In order to get the right tire pressure, each axle should be weighed. The axle weight is then divided by the number of tires on the trailer. 10% is then added in case of extra weight. The weight indicated should then provide the right pressure on the inflation table provided by the RV manufacturer.
Weight should also be determined at each tire position to get the correct pressure. Imbalance sometimes occurs during packing or improper weight distribution during manufacturing. Therefore, the position of the load will also determine the correct pressure for each tire.
RV Tire Inflation Basics
RV tires come in different varieties to fit the wheel diameter and width. This will require different pressures but in accordance to the weight ratio. The load capacity of the tires should therefore meet or exceed the maximum weight load.
It is important to keep the RV weight balanced so that the tires carry a proportional load. All tires in the axle should be inflated for the highest weight in cases where the weight is imbalanced. It is thus important to weight each load. This should include water in the RV, the fuel and all supplies to determine the weight distribution.
It is also important to follow the sidewall codes found on the tires for the purpose of achieving the correct tire pressure. The code indicates the country of manufacture, the date of manufacture and the maximum inflation pressure.
When the RV is at full load capacity it is necessary to inflate the tire in accordance to the indicated maximum pressure. It is improper to reduce the tire pressure to get a softer ride because this can be dangerous. Always carry a tire pressure gauge to monitor the pressure.
Other factors that affect tire pressure include temperature and altitude. As the temperature increases so does the tire pressure. This is about 1psi for every 10 Fahrenheit.
Similarly as the altitude increases, the tire pressure decreases. The loss is about 2 or 3 for an ascent of about 5000 feet above sea level. It is therefore advised that you set cold tire pressure before and after reaching your destination.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
The main purpose of this system is to warn the driver when at least one or more tires are under inflated. It is represented by a yellow symbol that appears on the dashboard panel and has the shape of a tire cross section with an exclamation point.
Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) has two different working styles. The illumination indicates the final step in the process for either direct or indirect TPMS.
Indirect TPMS relies on the wheel speed sensors used by anti-lock brake system. The sensor measures the rate of revolution on each wheel and this data is used by on car computer system to show when there is a change or sudden difference in speed which can be as a result of under inflated tires.
Direct TPMS has tire pressure monitoring sensors found on each tire and measure precise pressure levels. The sensor can also provide data on tire temperature. The data is later sent to a centralized control module that interprets it. In case of low pressure the indicator lights are triggered and they illuminate.
The tire pressure monitoring systems should be checked that they function correctly and accurately. The TPMS is a very important safety tool in the RV since it monitors the tire temperature and pressure and gives digital warning in case the tire has any damage. The system can monitor up to 18 tires with a single receiver unit and multiple sensors.
RV Trailer Tires: Tips & Safety
Regular tire inspection should be conducted for the purpose of detecting wear and tear that can lead to tire damage. Tire damage can be an outright indication of suspension or steering system fault. RV vibration can also be a sign of tire damage.
Front end alignment should also be done annually. Cases of flat spots, cupping or signs of excessive tire wear are associated with front end imbalance. Tire balancing and rotation should therefore be done to protect the tires from wearing. Rotation should be done on a regular basis to get the maximum tire life. RV manufacturers provide the tire rotation intervals. The tire balancing should be done when they are first placed on the wheel or after tire replacement.
Tire pressure should be regularly checked on the travelling day and throughout the entire journey. Fuel consumption increases when the tires are under inflated. Similarly overinflated tires have fewer grips and can cause a blowout. A tire gauge is need for this purpose to ensure the correct pressure at all times. Air compressor is also an important tool for any RV in case of underinflated tires.
In case the RV is not in constant use the tires should remain covered for the purpose of extending their life. The covers protect the tires from harmful UV rays from the sun which leads to degradation. Correct covers should be used in the case of multiple RV axles.
Tires should be washed properly with a brush and water based or solvent based products. Petroleum based products should never be used for this purpose since it leads to tire damage by prematurely cracking the rubber. The products should be used to scrub oils and tar on the tire sidewall and only plain water should be used when cleaning the tire threads.
Should Trailer Tires Be Run at Max Pressure?
Trailer tires should always be inflated to maximum PSI when the temperature is cold. This is because at maximum pressure, the tire is at full capacity and less heat is generated inside the tire. There will also be less flex on the sidewall thus making the tire wear evenly and fuel consumption moderate.
Why Do My Trailer Tires Keep Blowing Out?
Tire blowouts are as a result of heat buildup that causes the tire to fail. The main reasons for heat build are overloading the trailer and under or over inflation. The trail load capacity is normally indicated on a sticker plate found on the trailer and maximum tire pressure is also indicated on the tires.
The sidewalls of trailer tires are thicker to handle excessive vertical weight load associated with the trailer and in the case of under inflation this leads to heat buildup.
Why are My Trailer Tires Wearing on the Outside?
Over loading the trailer as well as an improper or damaged suspension can cause a significant damage to the outside of the tires. Damaged suspension is a result of the extra weight and this allows too much movement hence the wear out. Alignment issues can also lead to such damages on the tire.
How Often Should I Replace My Trailer Tires?
Trailer tires should be replaced every 5 to 6 six years after they have been mounted. Their storage also indicates when they should be replaced. When tires are exposed to UV rays from the sun, they crack, clearly showing that they need replacement.
Regular checks for cracks and spills on the sidewall should be conducted in order to know whether replacement is needed. Tire covers should be used when the trailer is not in use to reduce the chances of environmental damage.
Should You Balance Trailer Tires?
Since the primary job of trailers is to carry load it is not necessary to balance the wheels. This is unlike the cab section of a vehicle that carries passengers where an imbalance would cause uncomfortable vibrations.
When the trailer is not balanced the driver will feel a slight vibration when passing on rough roads or when the trailer goes through a bump or pothole. However, there are no hard and set rules that demand the balancing of trailer tires.
Trailer Tires VS Truck Tires
The main difference between trailer tires and truck tires is the thickness of the sidewall and the steel wires in the tires. Truck tires have softer sidewalls while trailer tires have thicker ones. Truck tires also have smaller steel wires than trailer tires. These differences make the trailer tire stiffer on the road and also allow it to retain heat buildup, reducing the chances of blowouts.