There is endless discussion about RV tire pressures in the online RV forums. There are almost as many opinions about it as there are RVers. But what I am going to share with you in this article is what you need to know about tire safety. And safety is a big factor when we talk about RV tires. The bigger the rig, the more important you monitor your tires and use the correct RV tire pressures for your tires.
This subject really is no joke because your RV tires are the only connection you have with the ground. And if you suffer a blowout while driving, it can be a dangerous and scary situation. So lets find out how you can determine the best RV tire pressures for every rig out there.
What Is The Correct Tire Pressures For Your RV?
You will hear a lot of thoughts about what the correct RV tire pressure should be for every rig. Some will say to just go by what is printed on the tire sidewalls. Some say to ignore that and use the tire charts usually found inside the RV. Others have a general idea of what tire pressure they like to use and think it fits everyone else as well. So what is the correct air pressure to use in your RV tires?
The truth is that tire pressure is most accurately determined by the load placed on them. The most correct RV tire pressure is the one where it takes into consideration the weight that is being placed on that individual tire. And you might think that RVs have their weight evenly distributed between the axles, but that is often not the case. And very often the RV owner has used their storage unevenly too. So more weight may be on one side of the RV than on the other. And the only way that you will know that is to weigh the rig and find out.
How To Weigh Your RV
So how do you find out how the weight is distributed in your RV? Many people take the RV to a truck scale like CAT scales found at Love’s truck stops. Or they may use another method that weighs the weight on each axle. This is certainly better than nothing and will give you a good picture of what your axle weights are.
But the most accurate weights for tire pressure are determined by weighing the RV at each tire position separately, instead of just using the overall axle weight. That’s because RVs are not very balanced vehicles to begin with. And then people start putting their cargo in the storage areas without thinking about weight distribution. So the weight on a tire on the left side of one axle can be very different from that on the other side. Only by weighing the rig at each tire position will you know that.
There are two main companies that weigh RVs at each tire position and you usually find them at RV rallies across the country. The two top companies that do this properly are Escapees Smart Weigh and the RV Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF). But Escapees Smart Weigh does have some permanent locations where you can get your RV weighed properly too. Here is a link to those weigh centers.
How To Find The Correct RV Tire Pressures
Once you have the accurate weight that is on each tire, now you can determine the correct tire pressure. To do that, you make use of the tire manufacturer’s tire inflation chart. It will tell you the correct tire pressure for the weight that particular tire is carrying. These charts can be easily found online by just Googling the the tire manufacturer and model of tire on your RV.
The general rule of thumb is to use the tire pressure for the tire with the most weight on that axle. In other words, one tire on the axle may have 3000 pounds on it and the other may only have 2000 pounds on it. So use the tire pressure for the tire that has 3000 pounds of weight on it for both tires on that axle.
What To Do If You Haven’t Been Weighed Yet
So now you know how to establish the correct RV tire pressures for your rig. But what do you do before you get weighed properly? The fail safe approach to tire pressure in this case is to run the tires at their maximum cold air pressure. This figure will be listed on the tire sidewall.
If the tires on your rig are the size and rating that your RV manufacturer recommends, this is a safe tire pressure. This maximum cold pressure for the tire is appropriate for the maximum weight that the tire could safely carry. As long as you are within the safe load limits of your RV, the maximum tire air pressure will be fine. The ride may be a little stiff, but it will be safe.
This is because the main enemy of RV tires is heat. And under-inflation is what causes heat to build up in the tire. If you are a little over-inflated for the weight, that should not present much of a safety issue. Also, keep in mind that the maximum tire pressure is cold pressure. This is before the RV has been driven anywhere. As you go, the tire pressure will exceed the cold pressure limit as the tire warms up. And that is fine. The tire manufacturer has built the tire to be able to safely do that.
But be sure to get your RV weighed properly as soon as possible. Then use the tire manufacturer’s tire pressure guidelines for the weight on each RV tire. That is the best and most accurate tire pressure for any RV rig. I hope this primer on determining the correct RV tire pressure for your rig has been helpful. As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!