Turn RV tire blowout fears into confidence. Explore our safety guide for preventing and dealing with tire issues on the road.
You’re cruising down the highway, the sun is shining and your favorite song is playing on the radio.
The open road is calling, and you’re ready to answer with an epic summer road trip in your trusty RV.
But then, without warning…BAM! The dreaded tire blowout.
It’s a scenario no RVer wants to experience. It can turn a carefree adventure into a stressful ordeal in a matter of seconds.
But here’s the good news: with the right knowledge and preparation, you can minimize the risk of tire blowouts and handle them efficiently if they do happen.
In this post, we’ll arm you with the information you need to ensure your safety on the road.
From understanding the causes and signs of a potential blowout to preventive measures and recovery tips, we’ve got you covered.
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What is an RV Tire Blowout?
An RV tire blowout is a sudden and rapid loss of inflation pressure in any of the tires.
This typically happens when a tire is underinflated, overloaded, or damaged and can’t handle the stress of the vehicle’s weight, resulting in a burst or rupture.
When a blowout happens while you’re driving, it can feel like a heavy force hitting the side of your rig.
You might hear a loud boom or bang, followed by a violent shaking or wobbling of your vehicle.
The RV may start to pull strongly towards the side of the blown tire, making steering and control challenging. Scary, right?
What Causes a Tire Blowout on an RV?
RV tire blowouts are relatively common and are one of the leading causes of RV-related accidents.
Why so frequent, you ask? Well, our trusty RV tires shoulder a hefty responsibility.
They carry our homes-on-wheels over hill, dale, and everything in between, often for miles on end.
And when they’re not on the move, they’re kicking back in storage, which can lead to issues like dry rot.
Add in some heat buildup, a dash of underinflation, a pinch of overloading, and a sprinkle of aging – voila, you’ve got a recipe for a blowout.
The key to avoiding a blowout in the first place is understanding their most likely causes.
- Underinflation: This is the leading cause of tire blowouts. Underinflated tires flex more, generating heat and potentially causing the tire to fail.
- Overloading: Exceeding your RV’s weight limit puts extra pressure on the tires, making them more susceptible to blowouts.
- Heat Buildup: Tires can overheat from friction, especially during long drives in hot weather or at high speeds. This can weaken the tire structure, leading to a blowout.
- Aging Tires: Even if they look fine and have plenty of tread, tires degrade over time. Most manufacturers recommend replacing RV tires every 5 to 7 years.
- Poor Maintenance: Neglecting regular inspections and maintenance can lead to unnoticed damage or wear, increasing the risk of a blowout.
- Impact Damage: Hitting potholes, curbs, or road debris can damage tires, sometimes causing slow leaks that eventually lead to a blowout.
- Improper Storage: When not in use, tires can suffer from dry rot or other damage if not stored properly, which can lead to blowouts when you hit the road again.
How to Avoid an RV Tire Blowout?
Keep a Close Eye on Tire Pressure
Keeping your tires properly inflated sets them up for success!
Use a reliable tire pressure gauge to check your tire pressure’s PSI regularly, especially before long trips.
Don’t forget, temperature changes can affect tire pressure too.
A portable air compressor is an invaluable tool for managing your RV’s tire pressure.
Consider investing in a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) for real-time updates and peace of mind.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Keeping Your RV Light & Your Tires Right
Keeping to your RV’s weight limit isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a key ingredient in the recipe for tire health and longevity.
Not to mention, it’s crucial in preventing those dreaded blowouts.
So, how do you ensure you’re not overdoing it?
First things first, get to know your RV’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
This is the maximum your RV should ever weigh, and it includes everything from passengers and cargo to that last-minute souvenir from the roadside stand.
You can typically find this information in your RV’s manual or on a label inside the vehicle.
Now, knowing your limit is one thing, but how about keeping tabs on your actual weight?
Take your RV to a public weigh station. You’ll find these at certain truck stops, commercial garages, and even some rest areas.
It gives you a precise measurement of your RV’s current weight, including all your belongings, passengers, and yes, even that full tank of water.
It’s a simple and efficient way to ensure you’re not unknowingly overloading your vehicle.
Remember, each gallon of water weighs approximately 8.34 pounds, so a full freshwater tank can add significant weight.
If you’re heading to a campsite with water access, consider traveling with a partially filled tank to save on weight.
Understanding & Mitigating Heat Buildup in RV Tires
Heat buildup in tires, particularly in large vehicles like RVs, is a significant concern.
This phenomenon occurs when the air inside the tires expands due to increased temperature, leading to greater internal pressure.
If not properly managed, this can result in a tire blowout, posing a serious safety risk.
In an RV, factors like a heavy load and high-speed travel, especially on hot asphalt, can intensify heat buildup.
As the tires work harder to carry the weight and maintain speed, they generate more heat.
If this heat isn’t dissipated effectively, it can lead to an over-inflation situation where the excess pressure causes a blowout.
You can use the back of your hand to feel how hot the tires are.
If they’re too hot to touch, it could indicate an issue such as over or underinflation, overloading, or high-speed driving.
However, for a more accurate and safer method, consider using a portable digital temperature gun.
It allows you to measure the surface temperature of your tires without physical contact, providing a precise reading and helping you identify any potential issues early.
There are several strategies you can employ to prevent heat buildup in your RV’s tires:
- Monitor Tire Pressure: Maintain your tires at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Underinflated tires flex more, thus generating extra heat, while overinflated tires are more prone to damage.
- Control Speed: High-speed travel generates more heat in tires. Stick to the speed limit and take breaks on long trips to allow your tires to cool down.
The Impact of Aging Tires on RV Blowouts
As tires age, the rubber starts to degrade and can develop cracks, losing its elasticity and strength.
This process can be accelerated by various factors such as climate, road conditions, and how the vehicle is used.
In an RV, the risk can be higher due to the heavy loads they often carry.
Aging tires may struggle under the added strain, leading to faster wear and tear.
Plus, if the RV isn’t frequently used, the tires could age without showing much tread wear, creating a false impression of their true condition.
To prevent blowouts caused by aging tires on your RV, consider the following strategies:
- Regular Tire Inspections: Regularly inspect your tires for signs of aging, such as cracks in the sidewalls, tread distortion, or discoloration.
- Timely Replacement: Most manufacturers recommend replacing tires every 6 to 10 years, regardless of tread life. This timeline can vary based on usage, storage conditions, and maintenance, so it’s best to consult with a tire professional.
- Proper Storage: When not in use, store your RV in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Exposure to UV light can accelerate tire aging. Using tire covers can also help protect them from environmental damage.
- Regular Use: Tires that sit unused for long periods can develop flat spots and other issues. Regular use helps maintain the flexibility of the rubber and can prolong the life of the tire.
Neglecting regular tire care can lead to several issues such as
- uneven wear, and
- overall degradation.
Underinflated tires, for instance, flex more and generate excess heat, which can lead to a blowout.
Overinflated tires have less contact with the road, causing uneven tread wear and making them more susceptible to punctures and blowouts.
Here are a few tire care tips to help you stay safe on the road:
- Schedule regular tire rotations & wheel alignments: Rotating and aligning your tires regularly helps maintain a balanced distribution of weight across all four tires. This ensures optimum contact with the road and even tread wear.
- Pay attention to wear and tear: Monitor your tires for signs of uneven wear, bulging, or cuts. If you notice any abnormalities, take your vehicle to a certified tire shop for an inspection.
- Check & adjust tire pressure: Check the pressure in all tires monthly (including the spare) and adjust accordingly.
Tire damage occurs when a tire hits a solid object, such as a pothole, curb, or road debris, causing immediate harm or creating weak spots that can lead to future issues.
In an RV, the weight and size of the vehicle can amplify the impact, potentially resulting in more severe damage.
This, coupled with the fact that RVs often travel on various terrains and in different weather conditions, increases the risk of encountering road hazards that can cause impact damage.
Here are a few tips to help avoid damage to your tires and some strategies for keeping you safe:
- Safe driving practices: Always maintain a safe speed and keep a lookout for road hazards. If you spot a pothole or debris on the road, safely maneuver around it if possible.
- Regular tire inspections: Regularly inspect your tires for signs of impact damage, such as cuts, bulges, or punctures. Early detection can prevent minor damage from escalating into a blowout.
- Use quality tires: Invest in high-quality, durable tires that are designed to withstand impact. While these may cost more upfront, they can save you from costly repairs or replacements in the future.
- Proper tire inflation: Maintain your tires at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Both overinflated and underinflated tires are more susceptible to impact damage.
When an RV is stored improperly, its tires are exposed to a variety of detrimental conditions such as:
- extreme temperatures,
- moisture, and
- constant pressure from the vehicle’s weight.
Over time, these conditions can cause the tires to degrade, leading to potential blowouts when the RV is used again.
Here are a few tips to help you protect the tires while your RV is in storage:
- Store your RV in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If indoor storage is not possible, consider using a high-quality RV cover to protect it from the elements.
- Specifically designed tire covers can protect your tires from harmful UV rays and extreme weather conditions, slowing down the aging process.
- Consider relieving some of the pressure on the tires by using RV-specific jack stands or blocks to support the weight of the vehicle.
- If lifting the RV isn’t an option, it’s a good idea to move your RV every few months to prevent the formation of flat spots on the tires.
- Before storing your RV, clean the tires and check for any signs of damage. Addressing these issues before storage can help prevent further degradation.
Read more: RV Winter Storage Tips
Recognizing the Signs of a Tire Blowout
Identifying the signs of a tire blowout can be crucial in preventing accidents and maintaining safety on the road.
While a sudden blowout may occur without warning, there are often indicators that a tire is at risk.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Vibration or thumping: Unusual vibrations or thumping noises while driving can indicate a tire problem. This could be due to an under inflated tire, damage, or uneven wear.
- Pulling to one side: If your vehicle starts pulling to one side while driving, it could be an early sign of a potential blowout. This usually indicates a problem with tire pressure or alignment.
- Rapid decrease in tire pressure: A rapid decrease in tire pressure, as indicated by a TPMS, can be a sign of a puncture or significant damage that could lead to a blowout.
Being aware of these signs and taking immediate corrective action can help prevent a tire blowout and ensure a safer journey.
What Should You Do if You Have a Tire Blowout while Driving?
Experiencing a tire blowout while driving your RV can be a terrifying incident.
However, knowing what to do in such a scenario can significantly increase your safety and minimize potential damage to your vehicle.
- Stay Calm: The first step is to stay calm and maintain control of your RV. Panicking could lead to abrupt actions that may worsen the situation.
- Maintain Your Speed: It might seem counterintuitive but do not immediately hit the brakes. Instead, maintain your speed or even slightly accelerate to counteract the pulling effect of the blown tire.
- Steady Steering: Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and steer straight. A blowout, especially on one side, can cause the RV to pull towards that side.
- Gradual Deceleration: Once you have control of the RV, gradually decelerate by lifting your foot off the accelerator. Do not attempt to brake aggressively as it could lead to loss of control.
- Signal and Move to Safety: Signal your intentions to other motorists and carefully move towards the shoulder of the road or a safe area where you can stop.
- Inspect the Damage: Once safely parked, inspect the damage from a distance. If the tire is severely damaged or on fire, get away from the RV and call for help.
- Call for Assistance: Unless you’re experienced in changing large vehicle tires, it’s safer to call roadside assistance. Changing an RV tire can be dangerous due to the size and weight of the vehicle.
Remember, the key to handling a tire blowout is staying calm and maintaining control of your RV.
Read more: RV Recovery Kit & How to Use it
Damage Limitation with Rettrobands
RettroBand is a revolutionary tire safety product designed to provide an additional layer of protection for RVs.
It is specifically engineered to counter the dangerous effects of front tire blowouts, which can often result in loss of vehicle control and severe accidents.
The RettroBand acts as a built-in spare within your tire that’s designed to withstand being driven on for short distances.
This means that even if a front tire blowout occurs, the RV can remain elevated and stable, so you can maintain control and safely steer the vehicle to a stop.
It’s mighty expensive – you can expect to pay between $3-$5000.
However, if you own a large Rv, they may be something you want to consider.
Larger RVs can suffer more during a blowout compared to their smaller counterparts.
A larger RV has more mass, which means more momentum.
In the event of a tire blowout, this extra momentum can make the RV harder to control, increasing the risk of swerving or even tipping over.
Additionally, the heavier load on each tire of a large RV means that a blowout could have a more significant impact, causing more damage to the vehicle.
The Rettroband can significantly enhance safety while driving, reducing the risk of crashes caused by tire blowouts.
It’s clear that taking care of our tires is not just about prolonging their lifespan, but primarily about ensuring our safety on the road.
But remember, even with all the precautions, unexpected incidents can occur. That’s where knowing what to do when you have a blowout and innovations like RettroBand come in.
But prevention is better than cure.
Make sure you regularly check tire pressure, keep an eye on the load we’re carrying, and stay vigilant about tire maintenance and storage.
And most importantly, let’s continue to educate ourselves and share our knowledge with the wider RV community. Because when it comes to safety, every bit of information helps.
Safe travels, everyone!