At Fretz RV, we always remind our customers that the only thing between their RV and the road are their tires. It is imperative that you do regular checks on all of your tires before you hit the highways. Here’s why. If you have a tire that begins to wear in an irregular way, and if that wear isn’t stopped, you can kiss that tire goodbye long before its time. How can you tell if your RV tires are suffering irregular wear? Read them–not with your eyes, but with your hands.
Many RVers take the time to regularly check their tire pressure. That’s great. Of course, checking for tire wear takes a little more time, but when combined with your air check, routine will give you the “bigger picture” of the condition of your tires. Now STOP! Before you get to business, I need to remind you that tires may contain steel or nylon cords which, if coming out of the tire surface, can cause a nasty injury to your hands. When “reading” your tires with your hands, always use the flat part of the palm, and move your hands lightly across the tire surface, or better yet, wear a thin glove…you have been warned!
Now, that being said, here are a few hints I picked up along the road:
First, run your hand across the tread surface from one side to the other. Now move your hand back the opposite direction. Does the tire feel rougher in one direction as opposed to the other? If it does, it’s likely tire feathering, and that’s NOT normal for tire wear. Tire feathering has several causes, one of which can be an alignment problem. Most likely found on the steering tires of a motorhome, if you find it on a motorcoach rear wheels or trailer tires, then alignment is the most likely culprit. On the steering wheels, it may have been caused by driving for a long duration in a cross wind, and having to combat the wind’s effect by steering “off straight.”
The next “reading,” is done by moving your hand from forward and backward along the available surface of the tire. You’ll be “looking” for abnormalities like bumps, ripples, cupping, or chopping. Ripples near the edges of the tire are called “river wear,” and is said by some to be caused by long miles of straight line driving. Big trucks often experience this issue, and there doesn’t appear to be much to be done about it. Find any of the other irregularities anywhere, or rippling in the center of the tread, you’ll want to visit a tire shop because something is out of whack.
If you do find abnormal wear, get the cause corrected. A tire rotation then may be in order, provided the tire still has acceptable life left in it. What’s acceptable? The common thinking is at least 4/32″ of tread on a “steering” tire, and at least 2/32″ on a non-steer. But how old is the tire? Also, if it’s five years or older, be sure to have a tire man look it over closely for signs of ozone damage.
By regular “Braille” reading of your tire surface, hopefully none of your tires will ever reach the stage show in our photo above. If you have any questions, or comments feel free to post them or give Fretz RV a call