RVers spend a lot of their time on tires; some, moving down the highway and some, parked in a campsite. So the more we know about our tires, the better off we are.
Every tire manufactured for sale in the U.S. has a required Department of Transportation (DOT) number imprinted on at least one of its sidewalls. That number begins with the letters “DOT” and may contain up to 12 additional numbers and letters. Tires produced after January 1, 2000, have a 4-digit code at the end of the DOT number. The first 2 digits represent the week of production and the last 2 digits represent the year of production. So, 2700 indicates the tire was produced in the 27th week of the year 2000.
Why is it important to know when our tires are manufactured? Because most RV tires need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires five to seven years old.
Ozone is the biggest natural cause of tire failure. Ozone is a gas that causes rubber to become brittle, resulting in surface cracks, which become deeper over time. Keeping your tires clean minimizes ozone damage. Tire manufacturers do not recommend any type of cleaners other than soap and water.
High temperatures and ultraviolet light accelerate the aging process. Covering tires when not in use will prolong their life. Long-term tire storage, or storage of seasonal use recreational vehicles, requires special preparations. RVs should be raised on blocks, so weight is removed from the tires. If blocking is not possible, tire pressure should be increased 20-25% from what’s normally required. Special care should be taken to avoid prolonged tire contact with petroleum-based substances like oils, fuels and asphalt.
The RV should be moved every three months to prevent flat spotting and ozone cracking. Flat spotting, which occurs on vehicles not moved for six or more months, could cause early tire failure.
Think about it. If your engine fails, you roll to a stop on the side of the road and you can call a tow truck. If your tires fail, someone else may have to call an ambulance for you.
RV Tips is written by Dave Clodfelter, Final Touch Coach Works specialist. Dave has been in the RV industry for over 35 years. His children are grown, but he and his wife still enjoy life on the road.