Tires and Brakes - Keep Your RV Safely Rolling Along

Welcome to the first edition of “Ask Dave” where lifetime RVer and former RV dealer Dave Helgeson answers readers' questions. A reader named Ron recently asked, “On a typical Class C 25 – 30 foot motorhome, how long do brakes and tires typically last?”

RV TIRES

RV Tires will typically “age out” before they “wear out”, while wear is typically the determining factor on when to replace brake pads or linings.

Since most RVs are not driven / towed excessive miles over the course of a year replacing RV tires is a matter of time, not mileage.

The common rule of thumb for changing RV tires is anywhere between four and six years. The better care you take of your tires the more likely they are to remain serviceable to the six year mark. It’s worth noting that tire shops typically will not service ANY tire that is ten years old or older regardless of condition or what type of vehicle they are mounted on.

How do you know how old your tires are?   

 - Tires have a date code stamped into them when they are manufactured.

How should I care for my tires?

 - Use your RV more often as more frequent usage will result in longer tire life

 - If the RV will be stored for long periods of time, take it for a drive once in awhile as a tire bearing a load with little or no rotation is not healthy for any tire

 - Keep them covered while not in use as direct exposure to air and sunlight will cause tires to age faster

 - Avoid excessive washing or dressings using alcohol or petroleum based products

 - Just like the tires on your personal vehicle, proper inflation and rotation will increase tire life

Even if your tires aren’t that old, replace them if:

 - They have noticeable sidewall cracking

 - They have bumps or bulges

 - Internal components of tire (steel or fabric body plies) become visible

 - Tread is worn to less than 2/32” remaining as indicated by tread wear indicator bars or by using the Penny Test.

If in doubt of your tire conditions, have them inspected regularly by a qualified tire specialist, such as a tire dealer, who will assess the tire’s suitability for continued service.

Tires that have been in service for 5 years or more should be dismounted and inspected internally by a tire dealer.  

Final thought on tires is it is better to be safe than sorry and replace them before they become questionable as blowing a tire while you are on the road can result in one or more of the following unpleasantries:

 - Damage to your RV, possibly putting an end to your trip

 - Loss of control

 - A blown tire from your RV can cause damage to other vehicles and possibly the occupants too

 - Having to change a tire in unfavorable locations, traffic or weather conditions 


Visually Inspect Brakes Annually

RV BRAKES

RV Brake pads / lining wear is strictly determined by stopping as brake material is slowly worn away each time the brakes are applied. Since RVs typically aren’t driven nearly as often or as many miles as personal vehicles, you are likely to go many years before they need replacing. Brake life can also be lengthened by personal driving habits like driving long sections of interstate freeway for hours on end and downshifting when descending steep grades. If your brakes pads have brake wear indicators on them you will know the pads are due for replacement when you hear the squeal, otherwise you will have to inspect the brakes to know when replacement is needed.

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to trade your RV in on another one before the pads or lining ever wear out. Regardless of miles driven or if you have wear indicators it is a good idea to visually inspect the brakes annually. In a future installment we will take a look at the braking system of a travel trailer / fifth wheel as they contain another part that is subject to wear in addition to the brake linings.

QUESTIONS FOR DAVE?

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Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lifetime RVer and former RV dealer, Dave Helgeson, answers readers' questions. To submit a question for Dave, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send us a message through our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/northwestrving.

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