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Friday, September 10, 2021

Are you qualified to drive an RV if you don't know how to check the air in your tires?

 Quick post on the need to know how to properly maintain your tire inflation.  Another personal opinion piece from this Tire Design Engineer.

Read this question on an Facebook page

Where do you take your motor home to get air pressure in tires checked?

There were a number of comments questioning if the person asking the question should even be driving. Some offered that they could get air at a truck stop. Others felt the person asking the question might not be sufficiently trained in the safe operation of a large Motorhome.

I offered the following.

Safe operation of your RV, and car or truck includes having the tires properly inflated ALL THE TIME. A tire failure is just not an expensive inconvenience but your vehicle on the side of the road is a safety hazard for both you and every vehicle that passes your disabled vehicle. More than half of all tire failures can be traced to their operation with insufficient air pressure. 

In my opinion every RV, 45' Motorhome to 8' trailer should have a Tire Pressure Monitor System or TPMS that have been properly programmed and checked for operation at least once a year. Since 2005 almost all cars have been equipped with this critical safety device as mandated by DOT. 

I can only guess why DOT decided to exclude RVs from this safety requirement. Was there push-back from the RV industry and the importers of lower cost ST type tires? As there might have been when improved qualification tests were implemented on Passenger and Light Truck tires in 2002 when ST type tires were excluded from the requirement to pass more demanding testing? IMO there is no excuse for not having a TPMS on your RV.

While it is true that personal injuries due to tire failures in RV application are minuscule compared to the number on cars and trucks, they are not zero. It does appear that reducing personal injuries are the driving force behind DOT safety requirements and with so few injuries occurring that involve tire failures on RVs there is probably little or no pressure on DOT to improve the safety of tires in RV application (ST type).

 If you check the TPMS each morning you should notice any loss of air pressure and can adjust the tire pressure while at the campground where you don't have a car passing 6' away at 70 mph. No tools are required to install a TPMS. No special mechanical knowledge is needed to program the system either other than being able to read the instructions. 

Claiming that you check your air pressure at each rest stop isn't good enough unless you can let us know how you check the pressure while driving 50 mph down the highway, or guarantee with 100% certainty that no valve core will ever leak after a tire had its pressure checked.




  1. I tow a triple axle 5th wheel with Goodyear G114 tires. The other day ambient temp was 63 and I set the pressure to 120 as the day went on ambient temp climbed to 95. According to My TPMS tire pressure was 140 average and a temp of 105 average. Does that sound normal?

    Also based on what I read do recommend I set the cold tire pressure to 135 psi?

  2. You should set your tire pressure so that the tire load capacity is at least 110% (with 115% being better) of the actual scale load on the heaviest loaded tire. Consult the Load Inflation tables from Goodyear. Only consider the Ambient at the start of your travel day.


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