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When you first purchase your RV you will have several questions on your mind like Do travel trailer tires and wheels need to be balanced? The answer is yes, you should. Although you may meet RVers and travel trailer owners who disagree, balancing your travel trailer tires is actually necessary for improved performance, tire longevity, and safety factors.
Passenger vehicle tires need to be balanced for ride stability and comfort, as well as for function. Travel trailer tires aren’t balanced to improve the ride for passengers, but they should be properly balanced for a safe towing experience.
Unbalanced travel trailer tires can lead to premature tire and wheel failure, or worse: an accident. As you travel at high rates of speed, an unbalanced tire wobbles which creates an unsafe towing environment.
And to top it off, drivers aren’t likely to feel or notice the wobbling from the cockpit of the tow vehicle. It’s important to have your trailer tires balanced even if you don’t feel like there’s an issue.
In this article we’re taking a closer look at balancing travel trailer tires, answering some FAQ, and more. Let’s get into it.
Should Travel Trailer Tires Be Balanced?
Yes, travel trailer tires should be balanced.
This is a subject that’s really not talked about a lot in the RVing community, nor is it recommended by many people.
And if you ask the vast majority of RV trailer owners if they balance their trailer tires, the answer will probably be “no”.
But we’re here to tell you that: yes, you should have your travel trailer tires balanced.
In an interview done by RV Travel, Wilson Beach, a director with the Tire Industry Association, had this to say:
“Have you ever driven down the freeway and watched a vehicle with an unbalanced tire? The tire can bounce so hard it can actually leave the pavement.”
This bouncing is caused by vibrations and it’s aptly known as “tire hop”.
A balanced travel trailer tire will run smoother, cooler, and increase the overall lifespan of the tire.
Have you ever wondered why some RV travel trailer owners experience blowout after blowout? While blowouts can be caused by many factors, improper tire balance definitely plays a part.
In a passenger vehicle you typically know immediately if your tires need to be balanced. You can feel it in the steering wheel and in the overall ride itself.
However, if you’re pulling an RV trailer, you’re not likely to notice it in your tow vehicle. And RV trailer tires typically don’t come balanced from the manufacturer or dealer, either. Because of these reasons, you need to make sure to have your travel trailer tires balanced yourself.
Do Travel Trailer Wheels Need to Be Balanced?
Just like with your travel trailer tires, you should have the wheels balanced, too.
Improper wheel balance can have a negative impact on your wheel bearings, your axle, and trailer suspension.
Besides the obvious issues of trailer damage and tire blowouts, improper wheel or tire balancing on your travel trailer can damage components inside your trailer, too.
What Are The Consequences of Improperly Balanced Trailer Tires?
There are several potential consequences of improperly balanced trailer tires. Here are few main ones:
- Premature tire wear and tear
- “Tire hop” from excessive vibration
- Wheel bearing failure
- Negative impacts on your trailer axle
- Negative impacts on your trailer suspension
- Damage to components inside your RV
- Trailer tire blowout
As you can see, there are many important reasons to have your trailer tires balanced.
Can I Use Truck Tires on My Trailer?
If you are looking to replace the tires on your trailer you will have a few options available to you. You might even think to use truck tires instead of travel trailer tires, but is this a good idea?
Light truck tires are sometimes used in RVs but generally not on utility trailers. Light truck tires are a type of passenger vehicle tire, and as a result, they are not built with a thick sidewall like regular trailer tires. The thicker sidewall helps significantly with the vertical load. So, with that in mind, it is recommended that you use travel trailer tires in most situations.
One of the biggest reasons that a tire can fail is overloading. If you use a truck tire, you are significantly increasing the chances that it will happen. You are towing a lot of weight with your travel trailer and if the tires are not properly rated, they will fail.
Additionally, heat build up can be a significant problem for a lot of people. Thicker tires build up heat when they are not properly inflated. As a result, you need to constantly make sure your tires are inflated correctly when you are pulling a travel trailer. This is why so many RVers use a Tire Pressure Monitoring System like the one we use on our RV.
How Long Do Travel Trailer Tires Last?
Age is a major factor when you are determining whether you need to replace your tires. Unfortunately, travel trailer tires undergo a lot more wear and tear than regular passenger vehicle tires. As a result, they need to be replaced more frequently.
Each tire manufacturer will have different recommendations on when to replace their tires. However, the average life span of a trailer tire is around five years under normal maintenance and conditions. That being said, you should start to consider tire replacement after three years. At this time you should consult with an expert and see how your tires are faring.
To increase the lifespan of your tires you can keep an eye out for things that cause tire damage and try to avoid them. Tire damage is often caused by improper tire pressure, excessive exposure to sunlight, improper loading, exposure to high temperatures, improper tire balance, and axle alignment issues. If you can avoid exposing them to these issues, then you can maximize your tire’s life span.
How Often Should You Replace Travel Trailer Tires?
Industry experts recommend replacing your travel trailer tires between three to six years of age.
If you’re unsure how to tell how old your travel trailer tires are, you can find out the age by reading the tire date code printed on the sidewall.
Pro tip: learning how to read tire dates can help you negotiate price when buying a used RV or travel trailer with old tires, even if they look new.
If the travel trailer has been left sitting in the sun for extended periods of time, aim for replacing them every three years or so. Otherwise, the general consensus is about every five years.
Why Do Travel Trailer Tires Blow Out?
As we have mentioned several times already, heat build up can cause a myriad of issues for travel trailer tires. As a result, it should come as no surprise to hear that heat build up is the biggest cause of tire blowouts.
There are many reasons that your tires might get overheated, but the two most common reasons are overloading of the trailer and having underinflated tires.
You should be able to check the trailer axle capacity on a sticker or plate on the frame of your trailer. You should not load your trailer beyond its capacity in any scenario. Additionally, you should make sure that your tires are always inflated to no more than 90%the maximum psi indicated on the tire when the tires are cold.
How Do I Identify Trailer Tires?
When you are looking for travel trailer tires you want to look for an ST or LT rating. ST stands for Special Tire, and LT stands for Light Truck. When you see a tire it should have a label and it will say something like ST 205/75 D14. ST of course stands for special tire, but what does everything else mean?
The 205 refers to the width of the tire in millimeters. Then the 75 refers to the ratio of height to width. In this example, the tire’s height is 75 percent of its width. The smaller the aspect ratio, the wider the tire in relation to height. Finally, the D indicates a bias ply tire and stands for diagonal. If there is an R there instead of a D, it means that it is a radial tire. The number following the letter is the diameter in inches. In this case, the tire is 14 inches in diameter.
Should I Use Radial Tires on My Camper Trailer?
One of the biggest decisions you need to make for your travel trailer is which type of tires to use. Your two main choices are bias and radial tires. Generally, bias tires are less expensive, but they do not perform as well. Trailer owners often say that these tires are flowers because they follow behind the vehicle that pulls them. The vehicle up front does all the work, while the tires just keep the trailer moving.
Conversely, radial tires perform much better. With radial tires your ride will be smoother, the trailer will not bounce as much, and they have a longer shelf life. However, the most important characteristic of these tires is that they can carry a heavy load.
So, should you use radial tires? If money is not a factor then radial tires are certainly the better option. However, finances obviously affect the decision making of most people. As a result, you may need to go with bias tires if you think radial tires are too expensive.
What Are the Best Travel Trailer Tire Brands to Buy?
Here we will look at five of the best travel trailer tire brands available to you. There are so many sellers on the market that is important to narrow things down. Otherwise, you will have a long and grueling search for the best option. However, by looking at these five brands you should be able to find your perfect tires much quicker.
1. Trailer King
Trailer King is one of the best options for people that are looking for new travel trailer tires. Their tries are manufactured to provide a high standard of safety, reliability, and comfort. They deliver everything you might need from an expansive ST Radial size lineup while providing incredible value. Here you should be able to find something that fits any type of trailer.
2. Task Master
Since 2003 Task Master has been making tires for light trucks, trailers, and other towable vehicles. They deliver products that deliver exceptional performance while operating under demanding conditions. Task Master is most known for its travel trailer tires. These products feature a double polyester cord body, double steel belts or full steel sidewalls, and nylon overlays that add extra endurance in tough loading conditions. Additionally, these tires are incredibly strong, making them a great choice for drivers that will be driving off road and in rough conditions.
3. Cooper Roadmaster
Another great brand available to you is Cooper Roadmaster. They sell a variety of tires for many types of vehicles and trailers. The travel trailer tires they sell feature a premium, high scrub tread compound that provides improved treadwear and long lasting protection against cutting and chipping.
Additionally, they have stone ejector ribs in the grooves that help preserve the casing for retreading. Finally, the rounded shoulder design helps minimize the effect of high lateral forces on the tire.
Yokohama is another brand that has several travel trailer tires available to you. Their tires have optimized tread depth, ensuring maximum efficiency and an extra long tread life. They also are built with a cut and chip resistant compound that will protect your tires from damage without sacrificing rolling resistance or wear performance.
The cornerstone of their tires is the zero degree belt which creates a consistently stable footprint for long, even wear. They also have funnel shape stepped grooves which prevent stones and other debris from getting to the bottom of the grooves and causing damage.
Finally, the tires have a newly designed tread pattern. This new design ensures that ground contact pressure is evenly distributed. As a result, you will have greater stability, flawless tracking, and better fuel efficiency.
The final brand we will be looking at is Deestone. They have nine tires available for sale that are designed for trailers. Each of these options is built to reduce rolling resistance. Additionally, you will not need to worry about heat built up with these options. As a result, these tires last longer than many other options available to you.
Prepare for Your Next Trip by Finding the Best Travel Trailer Tires for You
Do travel trailer tires need to be balanced? After reading this article, you should know that our answer is an unequivocal “yes”. In addition to having properly balanced trailer tires, you should also have tires that are capable of handling the load of your travel trailer.
It is generally not a good idea to use truck tires on your trailer as they are not strong enough to handle the weight of a large trailer. As a result, you will want to look for tires that either has an ST or LT rating. These ratings indicate that they can handle at least some trailers.
If you use regular tires you will be at a higher risk of overheating. When this happens your tires might blow out which is the last thing you want to happen. Not only can it be expensive to replace your tires, but if it happens while you are driving it is incredibly dangerous.
Finding the best travel trailer tires for you can be challenging. After all, there are dozens of brands out there, and each of them has several options to choose from. As a result, you should start your search by narrowing the field down to a few brands. Some of the best manufacturers available to you include Trailer King, Task Master, Cooper Roadmaster, Yokohama, and Deestone.
What type of tires are you most interested in purchasing? Have you ever had issues with your travel trailer tires in the past? Where do you plan on going on your next trip? Let us know in the comments!