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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Can I mix different brands of tires?

When it comes time to replace one or more of the tires on their RV many shop based on price, so they are
confronted with the questions such as:
Do I need to replace all the tires at the same time or can I just buy one to replace the damaged tire or just a pair for the front axle?
Do I have to keep the same brand or size or design tire or can I make a change?

Lets separate RVs into two categories. Motorized units such as Class-A, B or C and Towables.

Towables normally have one, two or three axles and I believe that baring some mechanical problem such as bent or out-of-alignment axle or having had a puncture you will probably be able to replace two at a time so you can spread out the cost for new tires over a couple of seasons. You should replace both tires on an axle with identical size, brand and design as if you mix tires you will probably end up with the tires fighting each other which can cause irregular wear in extreme cases.
With four or six tires to worry about there is an increased probability for one to suffer a puncture before the rest of the tires wear out or "age out", so there are advantages to keeping all your tires, including the spare identical. That way if you need to replace just one tire you can use your spare and still end up with the same size, brand and design tire on each axle. If you do change brand, size or design on your trailer and then suffer a failure you may want to purchase two tires to keep all tires on that axle identical. If you take this route I would suggest keeping the spare that matches most of the tires on the ground.
A good bit of news for owners of towables. Since you don't have tires mounted in a "dual" position (dual means two tires on the same end on an axle) you do not have to worry about OD matching. With the shorter life of tires on towables it will definitely help with your budget if you plan and do rolling change of say one axle per year rather than all 4 or 6 tires at one time. I would also put the tires with the deepest tread depth toward the rear as rears are more prone to puncture and heavier tread will lower the potential for puncture.

Motorized RVs have a bit more to worry about. It is very important that all tires on each axle are the same brand, size, and type as mixing tires can cause steering, handling and even braking un-balance which could present
an unsafe condition. While you can have one type tire on the front and a different type on the drive and even a third type on the tag axle you should NEVER mix tires on an axle.
Previously I have discussed the advantages of confirming availability of tires that are identical to what you are using or you should strongly consider carrying a spare if you have a unique size or brand.
It is also critical that when replacing one tire of a pair of duals that both are within 3/4" circumference. If more different in actual measured size one tire will be forced to carry a greater portion of the load from that end of the axle and by now you should know that increased load can contribute to hotter running and in extreme cases.

Bottom Line  Yes you can change tire Brand or Size or Type but I strongly suggest you do your research in the comfort of your home or at a campground rather than on the side of the Interstate and on the phone with the tire service company. BUT if you change tires you need to be aware of the potential for different and possibly unbalanced handling on motorized RV if you make a change, and the smaller (lighter) the RV the more pronounced this performance difference can be.
Having a TPMS is a good investment as it can warn you if you get a puncture and you may be able to stop soon enough that you do not damage the tire beyond repair-ability.


  1. Curious as to why the rear tires on dual axle towable would be more prone to pucture than the front. I seem to have more front tires have problems.

    1. If a nail is laying flat on the road its not a problem for the front tire. But the front tire can flip up the nail to a position that will puncture the following tire.

  2. I live in a farm and ranch area. Trailers are very common here for hauling all manner of things and for recreation. We combine tires of different brands on our trailers almost every time. We just stick the the same size tire, and don't worry about the brand. This is common knowlege at tire shops all around the area. You don't need to replace 2 tires on an axle at the same time, and brand doesn't matter. Just my experience over 46 years of trailer driving, the experience of my agricultural neighbors, and the experience of the 4 tire stores where I shop.

    1. Are you running duals for hours at a time at highway speeds with those farm wagons? Please note that the more significant issue of mixing is with motorized RVs not tandem axle trailers.

  3. I'm sue that it's great to be able to change several tires at a time, but that isn't always possible because of budget or even what is available in the area you have the tire failure.

    I think the point is to try and get the same size tires. It may not be ideal, but I'm pretty sure that an RVer could continue on with their trip, and enjoy the rest of it without any problems.

    1. Pap
      Again the issue is more significant with dual application on a motorized RV. Mixing brands may work but that is when measuring the actual OC of the tires is more important. Yow really do not want tires of different actual diameter paired up in a dual application if you want to minimize internal structural damage to your tires.
      Please remember I am trying to provide guidance on what is technically the best thing to do not suggestions on combinations on what might be just good enough to get you by.
      Sometimes people make changes and if the tire doesn't fail immediately they incorrectly assume all if OK. It may be days, weeks or even months later when the cumulative damage of running one tire with 10% more load results in a failure. At that point the owner says. "The tire must be defective" forgetting that they ignored the advice on the proper way to match duals.

      Re tire availability. I addressed that in the post on "Best tire" when I suggested getting a tire that is widely available might mean you don't need to worry about having a spare or having problems matching tires while on the road.


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