Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let's Check Those Tires

While most of us are still digging out of the winter storms, some of us are dreaming about the first warm weekend of the new camping year. So what do you do first with your stored RV?  Check the tire pressure with a good tire pressure gage.  The tire's max pressure is located on the side wall of the tires on your RV.  Do not use the pressures recommended by the RV manufacture UNLESS the RV has the original tires that it came with from the factory.






I use both a screw-on tire pressure indicator, such as Quick-Pressure-PSI-50-Monitor , which at a glance can tell you that you may have a problem [use only if your tires are supposed to have 50 lbs of air when cold. Other pressures are available]  and the traditional pencil like guage, such as Pencil-Pressure Gage .  Be sure to test or look at the tire pressure gage before you have moved your RV a mile. 

You need to check the tire pressure when the tire is still cold
Another good, but pricey, system for monitoring your tire pressure as well as the tire temperature is the  Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring System . I am saving for this one.

Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring System

The system will tell you of an overheated tire, in most cases before it blows, and of course tell you of low pressure in any monitored tire, even the spare,  in real time no need to stop every 20 miles and check those darn tires - LOL.  When you stop for gas or a bathroom break you should do a tire check of the RV as well as tow vehicle. My daughter was checking the tow vehicle for me and found a large cut in the sidewall of the truck tire.  We were able to get the tire replaced before the large accident occurred.  I did not even remember hitting or running over anything on the highway.
Be sure to carefully look at the tread, and the side walls both on the front and the back of the tire.  Most RV tire experts agree that if your tiers are more than five years old from the date of manufacture you should replace them.  Most tire failures occur when the side wall of the tire is under inflated or rots out from the inside where you can not see.  You can thank Mr. Sun for sidewall failure in some cases.  Most tires have a Mr. Sun inhibitor built-in but when a tire sits and sits the inhibitor does not get moved to the outside of the tire by the tire going round and round.  Now you see why you need wheel covers right? Trailer Wheel Covers   for less than $25.  To protect the tires in storage from Mr. Sun and any other nasties that come along.  You can also use an RV tire protective spray which is applied, as directed, to the tire side wall that is exposed to the sun.
I have used RV Tire Protection Spray with good luck.  This spray is not designed to make the tire side wall shinier, it is not a decorative spray, but something that is designed to put back into the surface of the rubber what Mr Sun is taking out.
RV Tire Protection Spray
Also note that if you are going to store the RV for an extended period of time you should protect the tread from the surface that the tires are sitting on.  Nasty things can leach out of your tires into the blacktop or concrete that your RV sits on while being stored. Or from the blacktop or concrete into your tires during storage.  You can use an  Office Chair Mat that sells for less than $20, for each side of the RV and just back onto it as you are putting the RV away, Or you can Go to Tractor Supply or any farm supply and pick up horse stall mats. Cut to the size you need for just $40.  Now that is easy.

If you are supposed to replace your tires every five years how do you know when your tires were made?  There is a code date molded into the side wall of the tire. (you can thank our government)   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that Tire Identification Numbers be a combination of the letters DOT, followed by ten, eleven or twelve letters and/or numbers that identify the manufacturing location, tire size and manufacturer's code, along with the week and year the tire was manufactured.  Since 2000, the week and year the tire was produced has been provided by the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number with the 2 digits being used to identify the week immediately preceding the 2 digits used to identify the year.

Below is an example of a tire manufactured since 2000 with the current Tire Identification Number format:

In the example above: DOT U2LL LMLR 5107
DOT U2LL LMLR 5107  Manufactured during the 51st week of the year
DOT U2LL LMLR 5107Manufactured during 2007
While the entire Tire Identification Number is required to be molded onto one sidewall of every tire, current regulations also require that DOT and the first digits of the Tire Identification Number must also be molded onto the opposite sidewall. Therefore, it is possible to see a Tire Identification Number that appears incomplete and requires looking at the tire’s other sidewall to find the entire Tire Identification Number.
I know you are saying to yourself,  but the RV is only three years old.  We are not talking about the year your RV was built, but the year the tires were manufactured and they maybe not the same so please check.   If your tire's serial number can not be read by you, then you need to take the tire or RV to an RV dealer or tire shop and have the tires read.  Please do not be pulling your RV with old tires that may jeopardize your families safety as well as others.   [If you want more information on tire markings and such go to Tire Tech Information]

Ok, you have checked the date code of your tires and they are in fact only three years old.  Tire pressure is up and you're ready to go.  Not so fast!

We need to discuss lug nut tightness.  Each Spring or before a major trip you should check the tightness of the lug nuts on each of the RV tires.  You need to check your owners manual for the correct setting.  My KZ Spree has the specifications of 100ft LBS.  I use a inexpensive torque wrench, which I keep in the RV tool box, to confirm the setting. 1/2' Torque Wrench  To keep the wrench outside of the tire rim I also use an extender. 1/2" Socket Extension The socket size depends on your lug nut size.

Tire Check Quick Guide 
1. Check all RV tires for max pressure listed on tire sidewall.
2. Check tire tread and sidewalls for ware and cracks.
3. Cover tires from sun damage when not using.
4. Keep tires off of storage surface during storage.
5. Check age of tires yearly.
6. Check your tires every time you stop.
7. Do maintenance on your tires as needed.
8. Check lug nut tightness.


So what's next?  How about fire, smoke, and gas safety!









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Until Next time.


                                                                            

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