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Friday, November 15, 2013

Should I jack up my RV?

I see this question come up each year when some people are parking their RV for the Winter. There is a quick and simple answer and a more involved answer,

Quick Answer:
I do not jack up my Class-C RV over the winter but I do inflate the tires to 80 psi (the pressure on the tire sidewall). I do cover the tires with white covers over the winter (and whenever I camp at a location for more than 1 day).

There are other things you can do such as keeping the tires out of contact with wet sand and dirt. I covered this with pictures in my post on Winterizing” 

More involved answer:
Jacking up the RV and removing the tire is one of those things that in a perfect world would be easy to do but in reality it isn't as many RVs don't have good jacking points or are so heavy you need very HD jacks so it may just not be safe to do..
I do understand the theoretical damage done from long term parking in one spot but again theory and reality clash. Lots of actions can theoretically prevent microscopic problems but if you extend the life of a tire by 1 month if you were to jack it up every time you were planning to park for more than 3 months, would it be worth the effort? Probably not.

There are actions that are easy to do and relatively inexpensive that can provide real "bang for the buck". I have covered these in various posts on my blog but will touch the big ones here.

1. Your actual static load should not exceed 85% of the max load capacity on any individual tire for the inflation you run..
2. You need to weigh and learn the actual load, when fully loaded and not simply take the total axle load and divide by the number of tires. You will NOT get the correct tire load by doing the simple division. You can download a worksheet on how to do the math HERE Or HERE

3. Get a TPMS so you will get a warning when (not if) you start to loose air due to puncture or leaking valve
4. Cover your tires with WHITE tire covers if they will be in the sun for better part of the day. A couple of hours in full sun does about same damage as a full day in the shade in Phoenix.
5. Replace the snap-in valves or rubber parts of your bolt in tire valves whenever you buy a new tire.
6. Get and use a digital hand held gauge at least once a month, even if you have a TPMS. You will probably be adding 1 to 3 psi each month anyway to maintain the tire inflation. This will also serve as a check on the TPMS.
7 NEVER drive on a tire that has lost 20% or more of its air. Structural damage will be done. Such damage is cumulative and this damage does not repair itself. (See post on Potato Salad)

8 Do not believe everything you read on RV Forums. Ask the poster for their actual training in failed tire analysis. Simply having owned tires from company XYZ does not make that person a knowledgeable source.
9. If you have a multi axle trailer your cold inflation should be the inflation on the tire sidewall

10 You might put on your To-Do list to read the posts in my blog (including the ones where I later point out my errors), then you could subscribe so you get a notice when I do a new post. I do about 3 a month so you will not be overloaded.
11.If you have a multi-axle trailer, learn how to do a rotating tire inspection and do your tires at least once a year. Watch this VIDEO  read the background in this POST to see what a failed tire looks like before it comes apart.

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