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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Be Prepared

I am pretty sure the Boy Scouts were not thinking about RV tires when they selected the motto of "Be Prepared".
However that motto does provide good guidance for RV owners when it comes to their tires and being prepared in the event of a failure or even better yet being prepared for travel in a way that can decrease the chance of having a failure.

Right now most RV owners either have their rig parked under cover for the winter or are keeping relatively warm in our southern states. In either case there are not many RVs on the road this time of year. But in another couple of months it will be time to get the cover off the rig, dig out the campground guides and start planning their adventures.

I would like to offer some suggestions on a few things to do that can make your life a bit easier when it comes to maintaining your tires and steps to take that may possibly save you grief down the road.

1. Have your tires inspected
       You should be able to find a dealer for your tire brand that is willing to give your tires an external visual inspection. I covered this in detail in this post.  They should look for bulges in the sidewall or an out of round tread. Cracks or cuts that exceed the specifications provided to the dealer by the tire manufacturer of your brand of tires. I believe that all competent and properly trained dealers should have a guide with specifications on what would be considered an "adjustable" level for depth or width of crack or cut. Even if the tire is out of warranty those levels would be a good guide for what the manufacturer considers safe or not.

2. Inflate the tires to the level required for your unit.
     For trailers this usually means to the inflation on the tire sidewall. I covered my suggestion for trailers in depth in a post just for trailer owners. I would include all towable units, even dollies in this category. For motorized units this would probably mean the minimum needed to carry the highest expected load plus 5 to 10 psi "cushion". You can refresh your memory about the importance of proper inflation here. If you haven't had your RV weighed and calculated the individual tire loads I strongly suggest you read this post. You can check the RVSEF web site for the schedule of locations they will be doing RV weights. Here is a site with downloads and worksheets on how to calculate actual loads.

3. While at the tire dealer confirm your tire gauge matches the calibrated master gauge the dealer has.
     It doesn't do you much good to check your tires if your gauge is off by 10%. I covered gauge accuracy in a post and you can see the high failure rate observed based on actual calibration checks..

4. Record your full DOT serial, including the date code.
     If you write this information in your record book and file it along with other important papers such as insurance and registration you will only need to do this once in the life of the tire. If you have this you can easily calculate the tire age and even check if the tire is on a recall list in the event of a recall or safety campaign.

5. Install your TPMS and confirm the batteries are working.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable 2013 RV season.

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