For people who own a camper, they often ask: How long do camper tires last? It’s not a simple question to answer because there are ST tires for lighter loads and LT ones for heavier ones. Several other factors affect how well the camper tires survive too. It’s not all down to tire tread and nothing else!
How long do camper tires last? Five years is standard advice. With camper tires, it’s a battle between the wear on the tread and the condition of the tires. If the camper tires suffer due to scorching desert conditions, they can dry out the tires in record time. Similarly, if driving more than 5,000 miles annually, the tread will wear down to unsafe levels years before the manufacturer’s expected life of a camper tire.
The total mileage capacity is usually around 12,000 miles in total (guidance from tire manufacturers varies, so check with your preferred brand). Ultimately, camper tires might need replacing in less time, like only 3 years.
Read Also: Motorhome Tire Life Expectancy
If you’re someone who only takes occasional trips by towing your camper trailer to vacation spots on the weekends or for weeklong trips away, then the tires may stretch to the 5-year point. However, when frequently traveling and packing on the miles, then it might be sensible to plan for a three-year lifespan.
Other factors also play a significant part in when you’ll need to look for a new set of camper tires. This is what we’ll now discuss.
Read Also: How Long Do Travel Trailers Last?
How Long Do Camper Tires Last?
There is no single right answer with camper tires. Even though a tire model may be manufactured in the same way as a batch, the identical rubber compound can deliver different results.
Why is this? Life happens. That’s the honest answer…
A camper owner who drives faster causing their lightweight camper to bounce around more may find their tires are less durable than expected. Or someone with a heavier, sturdier camper trailer using Special Trailer (ST) model tires may drive over rockier terrain or in the heat and still get a few good years out of their camper tires. It all depends.
When to replace trailer tires? The maximum number of years that a tire should be used for a towable camper is five years. However, we feel happier using a starting point of only three years and then adjusting upwards for terrain, driving style, heat and wear, and other factors to arrive at an expected duration that we’re personally comfortable settling on.
It’s also worth acknowledging the fact that tires used on towable trailers lose strength over the first three years of their life. By their fourth year, they are commonly 30-40% weaker than when first fitted to the camper. This impacts their ability to roll over potholes, handle rocky side roads, or to survive a stray nail. The longer that you drive on a tire this old, the greater the concern.
Also, bear in mind that RV tires last longer than camper ones.
Also Read: How to Increase Space in a Pop Up Camper
Camper Tires 101
Campers follow the direction that the towing vehicle is going in. Accordingly, they’re not built or shaped the same as the rugged tree trunk of a tire that’s fitted to the typical truck or SUV. It’s important to bear that in mind.
It’s possible to use one of several types of camper tires for your towable. Here’s a rundown.
Special Trailer (ST tires)
ST tires are designed for camper trailers (and also travel trailers too). If you looked at them in comparison to a regular vehicle tire, they are notably heavier. Just like with an RV tire, this is necessary to provide amble enough support for a camper’s weight and full load.
Notably, ST tires aren’t that flexible. There’s not much give in them because they have substantial polyester cords compared to the LT tires (or P-metric ones too). This design is necessary to prevent the camper from bouncing around or swaying from side to side while on the move.
Essentially, you want your camper to travel behind your tow vehicle like it’s on rails. Direct. Straight. And undeterred. ST tires are designed to do just that.
Light Truck (LT Tires)
LT tires are quite different from ST tires.
Only some camper trailers will be suitable to have LT tires fitted. It’s important to check the specifications of your camper trailer to be sure which tire type is correct. If your model requires ST tires, don’t fit LT ones (and visa versa). Take this advice seriously.
This type of tire is supplied in many sizes and shapes to accommodate different campers and terrain. Some are even intended to let a camper trailer to be driven off-road too. Despite the wide selection available, be certain your camper is right for LT tires before purchasing them.
Radial or Bias-ply
Radial and Bias-ply are two types of tire designs.
Can you use radial tires on a trailer? Actually, the most common type is Radial trailer tires! As mentioned earlier, camper tires usually have polyester cords within the tire. The idea here is to help adjust performance characteristics. With the Radial, their cords are positioned at a 90-degree right angle (perpendicular) to how the tires will roll forward. This provides a better driving experience, reduced tread wear, and keeps the tires cooler during use. Combined, this ensures these tires last longer.
With bias-ply tires, their cords point at a 60-degree angle to the driving direction. They have a crisscross pattern which is quite noticeable compared to the Radials. The bias-ply tires are more durable over rougher roads and make for a better off-road tire for a camper. Particularly, they avoid punctures to the sidewall from small stones getting collected and impacting the tire when underway. However, for everyday travel, they don’t offer as smooth of a ride.
Camper Tire Weight Load
Before selecting and purchasing a tire for your camper trailer, check its weight load.
You can usually find this on the sidewall of the tire or look-up the tire statistics online.
Validate the information to ensure it’s correct. Some tires like P-metric or Euro-metric ones often have somewhat different weight load information which often needs reducing by up to 10 percent to make it conform to American standards.
Be especially careful about the weight load limit information on camper tires to ensure you don’t exceed load capacity. A camper trailer that’s overcapacity risks a tire failure.
Age of the Tire – Know the DOT Number
The DOT number is an American system of verifying the week and year that the tire was manufactured.
The camper tire date code is a sequence that’s usually added to a tire’s sidewall. The modern DOT number which has been in use since 2000 has a 4-digit ending sequence. The first two digits at the end of the sequence (the DOT number can be over 10-digits) signifies the week number. The final two digits signify the year from 2000 onward.
For example, if the DOT code were 0817, this would confirm that the tire was manufactured in week 8, 2017.
Also, understand that just because a tire was purchased new two months ago, it doesn’t mean the tire itself is two months old. It could have sat on a shelf in the dealership for six months or longer. So, check the DOT number on your camper’s tires to see how old they really are!
Camper Tire Lifespan: Factors That Can Reduce It
How long do RV tires last? Some factors can lower or significantly impact the viability of a camper tire. Here we run through these to provide some insight on both what to avoid and ways to extend the useful life.
Excessive heat or extreme cold can damage a tire.
Tires release antioxidants from the sidewall which helps them to stay moist and protected from UV rays and the Ozone. Weather factors can dry tires out too soon which leads to weather scorching and cracking sooner than expected.
How to keep trailer tires from dry rotting? With camper trailers that are infrequently used for trips away or mini-vacations, the problem is that this prevents the tire from self-care. Tires can develop dry rot or dry out and become cracked when underused.
The semi-regular use of a tire keeps the rubber compounds in better condition. Additionally, the natural release of protective lubricating compounds from the tire serves to better protect it. Inactivity from infrequent use do the opposite and often shorten its life considerably.
Inspect all the tires on a camper before towing it when it’s been left for a period without use. Also, inspect them yearly for issues too.
On the flip side, driving considerable distances every year with your camper in tow puts a serious amount of wear on ST or LT tires alike.
Because of this, a tire will likely need replacing in 3 years instead of later due to tread wear issues.
What Causes Trailer Tire Blowout?
Tires need to be properly inflated to the recommended PSI that the tire manufacturer has indicated. Do not guess, underinflate, or overinflate. This can lead to tire failure.
The tire pressure needs to be checked when the tire hasn’t been used and isn’t warmed up. Use a tire pressure gauge [affiliate link] to confirm the current tire pressure to validate which tire may need its tire pressure adjusted before driving a considerable distance on it.
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A tire that’s underinflated by 20-25% and used can lead to risks of tire failure. Getting an inspection of the tire before getting properly underway is important if this is your situation.
Also note that camper trailers with more than one axle much use an identical make, model, and size of tire. This ensures the camper’s weight load is properly distributed for balance without risking causing either excessive tire wear or pushing a tire over its approved weight load.
Camper Trailer Storage
When storing the camper trailer for a time, elevate each tire to get it off the ground.
Avoid the risk of water, oil, or the remnants from snow or ice being absorbed by a tire. This could lead to its deterioration and you wouldn’t even know.
Don’t leave the camper outside where its tires heat up or suffer from UV damage. Weather cracking to tires is quite common in hotter climates and a leading cause of tire problems. Use tire covers to protect their sidewalls from the heat when they must be parked outdoors in warmer climates.
A tow-able like the Pioneer travel trailers range are high-quality and offer value for money too. Storing a Pioneer trailer well is going to help retain its long-term value in case you wish to sell it later. Something to always remember too.
What Else Changes the Durability of a Camper Tire?
Here are some other things to consider:
Camper Trailer Alignment
If the camper trailer alignment is off, then it can put additional wear on the tire tread.
Areas of interest should include that twin-axles are lined up properly and that the hitch is at a right angle to it. The toe-in and camber should also be checked too. If you ask the dealer, they’ll know.
The alignment can be checked by the main dealer. It’s not overly expensive and is relatively quick to check.
Tire Balance Adjustment
Should the balance on the wheels in case it’s off. That will put additional tire wear on one side. Additionally, it will cause the trailer to shudder or shake the whole journey which cannot be good.
By getting the wheels perfectly balanced, the camper’s tires, wheel bearings, and the whole structure will not be put under undue strain.
Most camper trailers are fairly light – compared to a tow vehicle or RV anyway.
ST tires that most campers will use are rated to go up to 65 MPH. Excessive speeds will overheat the tire compounds. It will also put extra pressure on the axle, etc. Campers just aren’t designed for speed or to go over rough terrain. They’re not a 4X4!