Motorhome Tire Life Expectancy

The risk of tire failure with RVs and motorhomes is very real. How long do RV tires last?

Motorhome tire life expectancy a fixed number of years with no exceptions or variances between tires either.

For owners of RVs, campers, and travel trailers, tire safety is both difficult to achieve and requires making a judgment call.

How long do RV tires last? The motorhome tire life expectancy is 5-7 years. Some manufacturers or RV mechanical workshops may suggest 5 years for the front tires and 7 years at a maximum for the rear tires. Or, if a tire has a crack that’s 2/32″ deep or there’s less than 6/32″ tread depth left, replace the tire immediately.

As an RV renter or owner, it’s important to know the answer for how often should you replace RV tires? This is because it’s your responsibility to ensure the RV you drive is safe.

Read Also: How long do camper tires last?

How long can an RV tire be useful? Does it depend on the mileage, usage over time, or whether it’s been a spare tire for the first 4 years of its life until it was fitted on?

These kinds of questions – and more – will be answered in this comprehensive article on RV tires.

How Often Should You Replace RV Tires?

As indicated in the introduction, RV tires don’t have a set RV tire age limit.

Actually, they have no expiry date at all. This makes it tough for RVers to be sure about when to replace their motorhome tires.

We feel your pain!

Choose a Reliable Tire Brand

Every RVer has a favorite tire brand. Often, they’ll swear by it.

So much so that when they purchase another RV to replace the last one, they may be unhappy with the brand of tire on the vehicle.

If it’s a camper, maybe they don’t like the tires fitted to it if they feel it’s an inferior brand.

RV tires are their own type. Indeed, the ones for a Class A motorhome aren’t suitable for a smaller Class C.

Also, regular tires for automobiles should not be used.

The weight of a fully-loaded Class A, B, or C RV is too much for car tires and they usually won’t fit properly either.

Some of the best RV tires and the most popular brands include:

  • Goodyear
  • Michelin
  • Toyo
  • Roadmaster
  • Continental
  • Firestone

In most cases, Michelin motorhome tires and other highly respected brands would sell a Class A tire for around $300 per tire. But the less expensive brands offer ones for under $150 too.

It’s normal to expect to be on the shorter end of the RV tire life expectancy with the less expensive brands.

They may also be subject to greater wear and be less able to withstand limited boondocking and being used on uneven terrain within RV campgrounds too.

More expensive RV tires can usually take more of a pounding. Maybe they even survive the odd nail in the road and come away reasonably undamaged.

Read Also: How to Open RV Emergency Window from Outside?

RV Tire Safety and the Importance of Not Waiting Too Long

Motorhome tires are very reliable but problems do occasionally occur.

A tire blowout or a situation where the tread around the wheel literally peels away can be dire.

In either situation, especially when traveling at the maximum RV speed, it’s extremely easy to lose control of the RV, or truck towing a trailer or camper that suddenly gets a blown tire.

In a worst-case scenario, it can and has led to fatalities. Sometimes, sadly whole families in a motorhome have lost their lives which was attributed to a faulty tire or one that should have been replaced years ago.

Tire Tread Depth and Tire Cracks

From a safety standpoint, a tire that has a crack that’s 2/32″ deep should indicate replacing the tire immediately and not driving with it on the RV.

When checking the tread depth, you want to see at least 6/32″ of tread depth still on the tire.

When it’s not that much remaining, then the tread is too low.

At that point, the tire should be replaced because the tread no longer offers an appropriate amount of grip on the road (which will worsen quickly).

In both situations, replace the tire before driving the RV, trailer, or camper any more miles.

how long do RV tires last

Read Also: Deeded RV Lot

RV Tire Age Limit

Depending on where you look, the general guidance with RV tires is a lifespan of 5-7 years.

Some err on the side of caution and suggest 4-6 years. RV tire replacement should be taken very seriously. if you’re likely to forget, set a Google Calendar reminder to prompt you.

There is the so-called “10 year rule” or “10 year old RV tires” question that comes up relating to whether that’s too old.

The answer is categoric: yes. Do not drive on tires that are close to a decade old. Fatal RV accidents have occurred with tires just 9 years old and younger.

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How Long Do Michelin RV Tires Last?

We’ve heard of cases where mechanics have suggested that Michelin branded RV tires could have a 10-year lifespan (please see our previous answer above!).

The truth is that even with the best tire brands, the life expectancy of their tires isn’t necessarily longer.

For instance, Michelin’s XPS RIB truck radial model technically has a life expectancy of 10 years.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you should skip regular inspections of every tire on your RV or camper, or expect this tire model to last that long. It’s better to be cautious with your safety, and that of your partner and/or family.

Also, with an inferior tire brand – Michelin is a highly respected one – the number of years they can be driven may be shorter.

By comparison, better-quality tires tend to be more durable over rocks, smaller debris on the road, or when rolling through the RV park on the way to the deeded RV lot.  

Read Also: Should I Leave My RV Plugged in all Winter?

RV Tire Lifespan Isn’t a Constant

The compound used in RV tires is different from other manufacturers’ tires. It’s designed specifically to protect the rubber to handle ozone damage and possible weather cracking from sun damage over the years.

However, it’s necessary to drive a reasonable amount both after they’re fitted on and then each year to keep the tires in good condition.

Otherwise, counterintuitively, RV tires will get older and more weathered as they age with less or a lack of use.

Because of the nature of recreational vehicles, many RVers aren’t full-time ones.

Instead, they may only take their RV out a few times a year when they can get away.

This will lead to a likely shorter tire lifespan compared to a regular user, all other things being equal. You might be shaking your head and going, “Huh?” at that, but we swear, it’s true!

This leads us to a good question as a follow-up…

How Many Miles are RV Tires Good For?

Typically, a good-quality RV tire can last for at least 8,000 miles and possibly up to 12,000 through a 3-4-year period.

That would be a fair amount of usage for an RV with a considerable weight compared to a regular automobile.

Each tire is different in this regard. Tire manufacturers extensively test their tires before releasing them to provide as accurate guidance information as possible.

However, it’s important not to conflate how many miles RV tires are good for with how many years they will last.

It’s possible to drive so much that you reach the maximum recorded miles on each tire within a few short years.

However, usually occasional RVers who take periodic trips will use up the years before the miles on each RV tire before it becomes an issue. Still, it’s not something to ignore either.

RV Tire Date Code

The RV date code is particularly important. Since around 1994, RV tires sold in America have had a date code added to at least one of the sidewalls.

This code has confirmed the week and year that the tire was manufactured.

Check the Tire’s True Age

Before purchasing a second-hand RV – or when purchasing new RV tires – check the manufacturing date.

It will confirm the true age of each tire and in the case of tires in an online store or mechanic’s shop, how many months (or years!) it’s been sitting on the shelf unsold.

It’s not uncommon to see tires that are years old being sold as “new” ones because technically, they are. However, if they’re already two years old, then you need to subtract that from your estimate of their useful life.

It’s in the DOT Number…

The DOT number is a 3 to 10+ digital code on the sidewall of the tire. It can provide some other manufacturing information, but its main purpose is to confirm the age of the tire.

3-digit DOT numbers – For older tires, it may only be a 3-digit code. The first two digits indicate the week of the manufacturer and the last digit indicates the year. This applies to tires up to 1999.

This system was only used from 1994 to 1999. Then it was upgraded to the four-digit DOT number system. For example, a tire DOT number of 498 indicates the tire was produced in the 49th week of 1998.

4+ digit DOT numbers – For newer tires from 2000, these use a 4-digit or longer DOT number. When the DOT number is longer, then only the last 4-digits are important.

Here, the first two (from the last four digits) indicate the week number, and the final two digits indicate the year. For example, a tire DOT number 0316 confirms that the tire was made in the 3rd week of 2016.

With this information, it’s possible to quickly confirm the age of every tire on an RV, camper, or trailer.

Pay Attention to a Tire’s Load Rating

Every tire comes with a load rating.

This is a specification about the expected maximum load that the tire can hold.

The information is supplied in pounds. However, use care with this information typically found on the tire’s sidewall.

There are some calculations involved to get the final, correct load rating to confirm the weight of RV that the tires can handle.

Check with the tire brand’s respective websites for more information on this.

Common Factors That Affect a Tire’s Useful Life

Here’s a rundown of what can shorten the life of your RV’s tires:

Milage & Age

As we touched on early, covering 8,000 miles or even 12,000 miles (or a little more) is not uncommon with a single set of quality tires. Sometimes, you hear about someone with RV tires that have 20,000 miles on them.

It should be understood that this is not normal and is risky to drive on tires with this much mileage too. We wouldn’t recommend it.

For tire duration, on the lower end, some RV owners play it very safe and replace their tires every 3 years.

Others, when seeing one tire on a matching set with overly worn tread below a safe level will go ahead and replace all tires to be safe. This avoids unpredictable handling borne from older and younger tires on the same recreational vehicle too.

Some RVers choose to keep the same set for 5 years or even 7 years.

They do include regular inspections of all their tires and get them checked annually when they get their RV serviced too. However, going beyond that time is risky and not advisable.

Playing it safe is the best plan. Budget for semi-regular tire replacement as part of the running costs to avoid financial or other unwanted surprises.

Choice of Route

Taking a Class A, B, or C motorhome over uneven terrain is problematic for the tires.

While the underside of the chassis may withstand some bumps and bruises along the way, it’s the tires that will bear the brunt of it.

For this reason, it’s useful to plan the route to any destination with care. Look for better roads, fewer sharp turns, or dirt tracks.

While this may take you slightly out of your way, the tires will thank you later.

Driving Habits

Whether driving a truck and towing a travel trailer or camper behind, or crossing the country in your motorhome, driving slower and more carefully to avoid potholes and other potential road hazards prove beneficial.

It’s certainly true that motorhomes cannot go off-road very much.

Trying to follow a campervan equipped with off-road tires, improved shocks, and a raised suspension into a hard-to-reach spot is a great way to get a tire blowout or a nail in the tire and become stranded.

Optimal Load & Weight Distribution

Every RV has a weight limit and an optimal load.

These apply to its standard weight for the model and what it usually weighs with passengers, possessions, and so forth. Pay attention to these limits to avoid overloading your tires. This can cause blowouts.  

Air Pressure Levels

Also, pay close attention to the recommended PSI tire pressure for the RV tire make and model.

Don’t either overinflate or underinflate your tires. Neither has a good outcome.

Check the tires regularly as they can periodically lose tire pressure for a variety of reasons. Use a handy portable tire pressure gauge [affiliate link] to do it yourself at the side of the road.

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Atmospheric Facts & Geographic Ones

Depending on the weather and seasons in the states that your RV will be in or travel through, your tires bear the brunt of it.

The ozone damage and UV rays can be harmful in hotter climates.

The sun can dry out the rubber earlier than expected compared to temperate climates making it vulnerable to weather cracking. This can reduce a tire’s lifespan considerably.

Not parking the RV on hot tarmac and covering the tires when staying for a while can protect tires from weather cracking.

Protecting the tires during winter is equally important too.

Frequency of Use & Storage Conditions

A tire that isn’t rotated through use can become a problem.

Similarly, as mentioned earlier, infrequently used RV tires fair less well than used ones.

While the tread on the tire will become more worn down with daily use, tires deteriorate from lack of use too.

It leaves the rubber compound more vulnerable and depending on how or where the RV is stored, this can severely affect how viable those tires are.

For storage, create a barrier between the floor or ground and the tires. Reduce the RV’s total weight during the storage period.

It’s also useful to drive the RV a short distance periodically during its storage to avoid sidewall cracks due to complete inactivity.

Also, don’t store spare tires on asphalt surfaces or other floor types that absorb the heat.

In winter, keep tires covered and off the ground that’s frozen.

For any RV that hasn’t been used for a period, you as the owner must inspect each tire for cracks and other damage.

Move the recreational vehicle forward a tad to also make the top and underside of the tire visible for checking too.

RV Tire Care and Safety Guide

It doesn’t hurt to wash each tire using a specialized tire cleaning solution [affiliate link].

Bear in mind that the tire sidewall contains antioxidants and other elements that will reach the surface of the tire.

Excessive washing or using an overly strong cleaner risks removing the compounds which will shorten your tire’s useful life.

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Avoid leaving your RV in the sun. Use wheel covers that deflect the sun and block UV rays.

It protects the rubber compound from weather damage which would otherwise lead to a higher risk of tire failure.

Follow the guidance above relating to storage. This includes adding air to properly inflate the tires to their recommended PSI. It protects them from damage while carrying the load.

Empty the RV of all unnecessary items before putting it into storage to reduce the overall weight too.

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