Whether you’re a new camper owner or an old hand at it, you need to be familiar with your camper’s tires.
You should be aware how long you can expect your camper trailer tires to last.
A burst tire is not only inconvenient, but can also be extremely dangerous. There are good practices you should be aware of when it comes to your tires.
I’m going to explain about the life expectancy for your camper trailer tires.
I’ll also detail everything you should be doing to keep your tires in tip-top shape. From choosing the right tire to general care, we’ve got you covered.
How Long Can You Expect Your Tires To Last?
No two camper trailers are exactly alike—and neither are the owners.
There are a lot of different factors that influence how long your tires will last. We’ll be discussing those factors throughout this article.
Having said that, five years is the absolute maximum you should keep tires on your camper, even if they seem unworn.
The majority of tires are only built to last for this length of time.
This doesn’t mean you should forget about your tires for years on end. Trailer tires can lose roughly a third of their strength after three years. This is assuming regular wear and tear, nothing extreme.
Even if your tires look perfectly fine, they could still be worn down. You should try to keep three rather than five years as your cut off point for replacements.
Be sure to check them regularly, especially as you approach the three-year mark.
Are My Tires Right For My Camper Trailer?
Using the wrong type of tires on your camper trailer is a bad idea. You are putting yourself, others and your camper at risk.
Your camper trailer is built to follow, not to lead. Camper trailers have less advanced suspension systems than the average car, truck, or SUV.
You need to make sure that you select tires that are suitable for camper trailers. This means purchasing special trailer (ST) or light truck (LT) tires.
Special Trailer (ST) Tires
As the name implies, these types of tire are built with trailers in mind. Compared to a standard tire, they are heavier—this is so they can support your camper’s weight.
ST tires are also far less flexible than the tires we use on our tow vehicles. The extra stiffness added to ST tires will help to keep your trailer straight instead of swaying.
Light Truck (LT) Tires
Depending on your trailer weight, you may be able to use LT tires.
These come in arange of shapes and sizes— including off-road tires. You will have to review which type best fits your camper trailer, if any.
Watch The Weight Load
Always check what weight your tire of choice is able to support. This information is available on the sidewall of the tire.
Take note that Euro-metric or P-metric tires have different load capacities than indicated. Reduce the load capacity by nine percent for an accurate rating.
What Is Ageing My Tires?
It’s useful to have an idea what might be causing your tires to wear quickly. This can give you a better idea of how long you can expect your tires to last for, before they need replacing.
It’s only natural that this is one of the factors that age your tires. If you take long journeys or go on frequent trips, this will wear your tires out faster.
Get into the habit of checking your tires before heading out on every trip, especially if you’ll be traveling far.
Lack Of Use
Did you know that using your tires too little can also make them unsafe for use? Tires left unused for a long time can fall victim to dry rot.
You can check your tires to be sure, but it’s preferable to replace them if the trailer has been stood for a significant period.
Lack of use could also result in a flat spot on the tires, especially on heavy loads. This will affect the vehicle’s handling until the tire has warmed up, but should then rectify itself. Just make sure the tire pressure is correct before driving.
You already know that extreme temperatures can be harmful to your camper trailer. This applies to the tires as well.
Overexposure to sunlight, ice or moisture can cause tires to deteriorate.
This is why camper tires should not be stored outside.
This won’t surprise you, but poor maintenance is a major cause of ageing.
You need to check your tire pressure periodically, no matter what. Badly inflated tires will wear out faster.
Putting more weight on your tires than they can bear could burst them—don’t do it. Remember to check the weight capacity of the tires and be sure you’re not exceeding it.
How Can I Tell How Old My Tires Are?
There’s a simple way to check the age of your tires—there are letters and numbers engraved into each one.
You’re looking for the letters “DOT,” followed by numbers. If you’re interested, this abbreviation stands for the Department of Transportation.
The information includes the location, code, and date of manufacture, as well as the tire size.
All you’re going to need is the week and year of manufacture. How these numbers are arranged depends on the year it was produced.
If your tire was manufactured after the year 2000:
- The last two digits are the year (e.g. 18 for 2018).
- The two digits before that are the week of manufacture (e.g. 23, meaning the 23rd week of the year).
With tires manufactured before the year 2000, it can be tricky. The week and year of manufacture are the last three digits instead of four:
- The first two digits are the week of manufacture (e.g. 17, meaning 17th week of the year).
- The next digit is the year of the decade. (e.g. two, meaning the second year of the decade).
Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell which decade. Three can refer to 1983 or 1993—you can’t tell. Nonetheless, if your tires were manufactured that long ago, they should be replaced, anyhow.
If you can’t see all the numbers, look at the other sidewall. The DOT does not require the full number to be branded on both sidewalls.
How To Care For My Tires?
Taking care of your tires can go a long way towards improving their lifespan. There are a few things you can do that are great for tire health.
Replace In Pairs
Combining old and new tires is not recommended, as they won’t have the same tread and therefore each will grip the road differently.
If your trailer has only two tires and one is damaged, replace them both. With a damaged tire on multi-wheeled trailers, replace two together, e.g. both front tires.
Break New Tires In
New camper trailer tires need to be broken in. Ideally, every tire requires at least 500 miles of travel before reaching this stage.
This is because your new tires still have release lubricant on them. This is a substance that is used during manufacturing, to stop the tires from sticking to their molds.
It will take time for the lubricant to wear off. This means your new tires will not handle the same way as your old ones—and neither will your trailer.
Drive carefully, until the new tires are fully broken in. Avoid speeding or taking sharp turns.
Both under-inflation and over-inflation are bad news for the tires and will cause them to wear out faster.
Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct level. They will last longer and your camper trailer will tow better for it.
Keep Them Covered
If you’re going to be at a campsite for a while, consider your tires. Particularly during the sweltering summer months, they could be exposed to UV light.
Tire covers are a great solution for shielding your tires from the elements.
Here is a video to show you how to make tire covers to protect your trailer tires:
What Are Signs My Tires Need To Be Replaced?
Now that you know how to keep your tires in shape, learn when it’s time to replace them. There are a few signs of tire damage and ageing you should not ignore.
Worn Out Treads
If your tire treads have worn away beyond a certain point, they can be dangerous on the road.
A good way to check is by placing a penny into the groove of your treads. If you can see the top of President Lincoln’s head, that tire is finished.
If you notice that one side of your trailer tires are more worn than the other, this is a sign the axles might be misaligned. Get this checked at a local tire center.
Cracks or cuts on the surface of your tires are not normal. You could be losing air pressure. Don’t forget to examine your valve stem for cracks too.
I hope you feel more confident about your camper trailer tires now. Your tires get you and your camper to where you are going: treat them with utmost respect.
Before you head out for adventure, you probably give your camper trailer a thorough once-over. If you don’t already, get into the same habit with your tires.
Check your tires at rest stops and before you put your camper back in storage. You never know what tolls the road can take on any given day.
Do you have any more advice related to camper trailer tires? Please comment and tell us.
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