Tires play an important part in any recreational vehicle. Without the tires, your fancy motorhome can not bring you to desired destinations regardless of how luxury it is or how much horsepower its engine has. If you own a RV camper then it is obvious that you’ll expect your RV tires to last as long as possible and guarantee your safety on any road trip.
However, while they also are essential elements for a safe and enjoyable camping trip, RV tires are often underestimated or overlooked. Too many campers don’t pay enough attention to their RV tires until they have a flat or a blowout while traveling off-road which often comes with serious consequences.
Besides that, using low quality tires which are not compatible with your RV will also leads to safety troubles and reduce the tires’ lifespan.
So your job is to make sure your tires are in good condition at all times and also to choose the right sets of tires for your rig. By observing and understanding the warning signs, you’ll know when is the perfect time to replace your RV tires. That way, you can prepare yourself in advance to avoid the possibility of the tires malfunctioning before your family road trips.
And when it comes to purchasing new RV tires, you should also know the cost of replacing tires on your RV including RV tires price, installation cost, tire disposal cost and some extra cost contributing factors.
When to Replace Your RV Tires
Similar to car tires, RV tires have a limited lifespan. Especially when the tires on a motorhome or a travel trailer that do a lot of dry camping or boondocking have to suffer from extreme weather conditions, RV tires tend to last less time when compared with normal driving tires.
To know whether it’s time for you to do the RV tire replacement, it is recommended to check on your tires conditions on the regular basis to look out for any of the following warning signs:
- Uneven wear in the tread
- Low tire tread: a tread depth is less than 4/32 of an inch
- Sidewall cracks
- Cuts, bulges and blisters on the tire surface
- Tire vibration
- Tires are unable to hold air pressure at the proper level due to a slow leak
Note: Even if your tires work just fine without any of the above signs, you still need to change them every 6 years to guarantee your safety on the road. RV tires tend to last from 3 to 6 years before needing to be replaced.
On average, there are 11,000 tire-related vehicle crashes each year. That’s a good enough reason to properly maintain and then replace your tires once they’re run their course. You need to inspect your tires every month. By doing this regular check, you will see how worn your tires are and if your tread is too low for safe driving.
You can do the quarter test to examine the tread depth of your tires. With the quarter, insert the top of George Washington’s head down into the tread groove. If you clearly see the top of his head, that means it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
You can also use the tread wear bars. These are molded into the tire at a height of 2/32 of an inch, what’s considered the legal limit for a tire to be worn out in most states. When the tread is even with those bars. It’s time for new tires.
Along with wear, you need to look out for cracks, cuts and bulges on the tread or sidewalls. These signal potential weak spots that could lead to tire failure.
And even if your tread is looking fine in one section of a tire, you’ll want to check for uneven wear, which typically indicates a wheel alignment, tire inflation or suspension problem.
You can see a tire which is totally worn out in the center. This can happen when a tire is overinflated. On the other hand, shoulder wear happens when the tire wears at the edges of the tread. And when it happens on both sides, it’s a sign that the tire has been driven underinflated. If you keep your tires inflated at the right level, you should be able to avoid these problems. It’s also recommended that tires should be rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles to help equalize wear between front and rear tires.
Once you see any of the above signs or your tires last more than 6 years, consider shopping right away so you can take advantage of sales and discounts. When a tire fails, you won’t have as many choices when it comes to replacing it and that could cost you money.
If it’s time to replace your RV tires, check our comprehensive RV tires buying guide before you buy.
Factors Affecting Cost to Replace Your RV Tires
Now when you realize damage signs on your camper tires such as uneven tread wear, low tire treads or cracks, cuts and bulges on the tire surface, it’s time to go shopping for a new set of tires.
When it comes to purchasing tire replacement, there are many factors tire shoppers need to consider. These factors will contribute to the cost of replacing RV tires in different ways.
Normally, the RV tire replacement cost includes cost of RV tires, installation cost, disposal cost and warranty. To know how much RV tires cost, you’ll need to take your RV class, tire size and the tire brand you want to buy from into account. Let’s find out the detailed cost as below:
As you already know, RV tires are not all the same. Depending on the RV class you own, the types of tires you need and their cost may vary.
For travel trailers, small campers which are known as lightweight RVs without the extra weight of an engine, you will need special trailer (ST) tires. These tires are designed to carry heavy loads, reduce flex possibility of tire sidewall and dissipate heat.
With the rigid walls, ST tires can prevent trailers from swaying. The tread design also provides low resistance making it the best tires for towing and lower fuel consumption for towing trucks. In addition, the rubber used in ST tires typically has more anti-aging chemicals and UV rays to help the tires better handle extreme outdoor conditions when camping.
- Travel trailers & toy haulers:Tires installed on travel trailers or toy haulers tend to wear even on both sides as it withstands the same amount of impacts from all directions. As a result, when the time comes, you normally need to change two corresponding tires or all four tires at a time. Tires for travel trailers and toy haulers available on the market can range from $160 to $210 for a single unit.
- Fifth wheels: Offering quite similar amenity and interior space as a Class A motorhome, fifth wheels are a large type of RV trailer. To handle the weight of it, you’ll need heavy-duty tires. You can either buy normal tires with the price of $200 or opt for high-end units with up to $350 each.
- Small campers: Lightweight campers like pop-up campers or teardrop campers are favored by small camper families because of the versatility they offer while still providing enough sleeping space for 2-3 people. As these small campers are often towed by regular vehicles like trucks, SUVs or minivans, they are not pressured with too much weight as other camper types. With that, their tires tend to last for a longer time which could save you a good amount in the long term. These campers also come with tires which cost you cheaper for replacement. You can expect to pay around $80- $150 for one tire.
On the other hand, if you’re driving motorhomes like class A, B, and C RVs, you’ll need to buy light truck (LT) tires. These tires are manufactured for heavy vehicles such as vans, trucks or motorhomes that weigh more than half ton.
In addition to handling the heavy load of the vehicle, another primary objective of LT tires is to maintain traction when accelerating, braking and cornering while also providing a decent ride comfort for your camper. In this type of tires, the tread is specifically designed to have maximum traction under various road conditions and grip the road under a powered axle. They also possess the ability to absorb as much energy as possible when the camper runs over bumps or potholes.
- Class A motorhomes: Normally a class A RV is over 30 feet long with the weight ranging from 15,000 lbs to 30,000 lbs. To handle this amount of weight, you may need a reliable set of tires in great quality. Because of the heavy weight, some class A models are dual rear wheel types with two rear wheels on each side. So at max, you may need to replace in total 6 tires for your RV. The average cost you need to spend on a tire for a class A camper tends to be between $250 to $350.
- Class B motorhomes: Also known as camper vans, class B motorhomes are built from automotive vans or panel trucks. A class B motorhome tire can cost anywhere from $150 to $250.
- Class C motorhomes: Not according to the alphabetical order, class C RV tires are smaller than class A RV tires but are larger than class B RV tires. The average amount you need to spend to buy a set of tires is approximately $250 to $300 for a large vehicle.
|RV Type||The average price per tire ($)|
|Travel trailers & toy haulers||160 – 210|
|Fifth wheel||200 – 350|
|Small campers||80 – 150|
|Class A RV||250 – 350|
|Class B RV||150 – 250|
|Class C RV||250 – 300|
Another important factor that affects your tire replacement expense will be the size of the tire you need for your camper. You can find tires in a wide range of sizes to serve different purposes and match with different RV models and types. For example, a lightweight camper will always come with small wheels. This means you need to find small tires to fit those wheels.
On the other hand, if you own a large motorhome, a set of bigger tires are what you should be looking for and those will naturally cost more than small ones. A good rule of thumb is that the bigger the tire is, the more money you have to pay for it.
The cost for the replacement tires also heavily depends on what manufacturer they belong to. And similar to tire sizes, there are a lot of tire brands to choose from. You can either choose cheap tires from a new brand or go for premium tires from a name brand. There are tires with the price as low as $50 each but you can also find RV tires up to $800 per unit.
Like with anything else you buy, choosing tires from a reputable name brand will cost you more money. It’s not easy to gain the name and a good position on the market. A brand has to develop a reputation for high quality with real products for many years. In most cases, it is believed that buying a name brand will result in you getting a high-quality tire with a consistent and long-lasting performance.
When shopping for new tires, most tire shoppers have a tendency to save some money and go with a less expensive option. But it doesn’t mean you’re always benefiting from cheap options. You will spend far less to go with the no-name brand, but you need to think about the quality. After all, if you save money today by choosing this brand, does it really pay off if you have to replace the tires again prematurely? Since tires are usually linked with road safety of any vehicle, you should consider this trade-off very carefully. An unexpected flat or blowout usually results in significant damage.
In fact, there is actually a lot of advanced engineering and technology applied in premium tires production by well-known tire manufacturers. Everything from tread design to rubber compounds is the product of intensive research and invention, and an expensive premium tire from a large manufacturer will provide significantly better performance on a wide range of road conditions than a low budget tire from a random company.
With better braking and handling, lower road-noise, improved ride quality, longer tread life, and even better gas mileage, it is not at all an exaggeration to say that quality tires can give you a safer and more comfortable driving experience.
Despite that, price isn’t necessarily the only indicator of tire quality. It’s undeniable that there are still great products from small brands because they’re still new and on their way to gain their own reputation. If you can find those, it is a great deal for you not only this time but also many next time.
Here are some premium tire brands you can check out for when looking for a new set of tires for your RV:
If you’re looking for LT tires for your motorhomes, Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin, Goodyear or Cooper are the prestigious names.
- Bridgestone: Based in Tokyo, Bridgestone is one of the three largest tire manufacturers in the world. This company offers over 100 different tire models and boasts something for every type of driver.
- Continental: Continental Tire has a great reputation with an especially strong focus on all-season tires. The tire manufacturer puts an emphasis on safe, eco-friendly tires that are easier on the environment, which is an added bonus.
- Michelin: This French company is the world’s top tire manufacturer and leads the industry in innovation and trust. It has an exceptional selection of high-end performance tires as a part of its Pilot Sport series which offers superior quality, durability and handling for driving enthusiasts. Warranties of up to six years for manufacturer’s defects on select tires helps offset the higher cost of its premium tire model products.
In the case you want to replace your ST tires on your travel trailers or small campers, Carlisle and Trailer King are the brands that gain more trust from buyers.
- Carlisle: Carlisle is most known for trailer tires, as it manufactures the marketplace’s most comprehensive line of specialty tires. As a leader in the trailer tire market, their specialty trailer tires use advanced technology that offers protection and durability for both work and play. Carlisle trailer tires are designed to carry heavier loads for your boat trailer, camper, utility trailer or toy hauler.
- Trailer King: Trailer King’s tires are manufactured to provide a high standard in safety, reliability and comfort. The tires from Trailer King feature a modern tread design manufactured using segmented molds to provide exceptional uniformity and appearance, while the optimized tread design delivers superior strength, durability and resistance to heat build up.
|Tire Brand||The average price per tire ($)|
Installation and Balancing Cost
In the professional tire shops, the installation process doesn’t take long and the price can often be included with the price of the tires. However, if you buy RV tires in one place and have them installed on your RV in another then you can expect to pay about $14-$36 per tire for the installation on average.
This installation cost could be even less if you visit a warehouse club to have them installed. Sam’s Club is the place which charges this the least at only $14 while car dealerships usually charge the most for installation with up to $36 per tire.
To save cost you can also do it yourself. But replacing a tire is not something that anyone can do. Without the machines and tools, this process will take a lot of time and effort. You’ll need to remove your old tires from its rim before installing their replacements.
In addition to the new tire installation, it’s recommended to do a wheel alignment to ensure your tire spins smoothly and evenly on the road. But the actual physical act of balancing a single tire is quite simple with the help of tire balancing machines. Therefore most tire shops only apply a minimal charge.
Sometimes, the tire shops offer buyers these services free of charge as a promotion program. So do not hesitate to ask for it. If they agree, you may save a small amount of money.
After having your tires replaced at the shops, you can not leave your used tires there without paying a fee for disposal. Because normally these shops must pay to have them recycled, so that cost will obviously be on you. Depending on where you live, this tire disposal cost can be included in either the cost of new tires or in the service charge. On average, the tire disposal fees will range between $2 and $10 per tire to dispose of them.
If you would rather save this money, you can get rid of them yourself. But there is still another way to deal with it. There are several creative ideas to reuse the old tires. With some effort and DIY skills, you can make several products out of used tires such as rubber chairs, tables, tire swings for kids or hanging planters.
Tires are an item that can wear over time and must be replaced every few years to keep their functionality at optimum levels. But sometimes, a tire lasts only a few thousands miles before it stops functioning and leaves you liable for an unexpected cost.
There are various reasons why your tires fail sooner than expected, including the damage occurring on the road while driving and occasionally because of the low quality of the product from the manufacturer.
Normally, reputable tire brands will offer their buyers a warranty coverage which recompense a part or the total cost of the replacement tire in the case it fails after a short time of usage.
The most popular type of tire warranty you can find is a tread life warranty. This is a type of warranty offered by manufacturers on some tires. It guarantees a certain amount of mileage for the tire’s tread wear. Tread life warranties vary by manufacturer, but they typically range from 40,000 to 80,000 miles.
Some companies require that you have your tires regularly serviced in order to keep the warranty valid. If you’re considering purchasing tires with a tread life warranty, be sure to read the fine print carefully. Pay attention to the excluded conditions and services that could void the warranty.
Another type of tire warranty is a road hazard warranty. When your RV tires can be damaged by the everyday hazards of driving, such as potholes and curbs, a road hazard warranty protects your tires against these common hazards, and can save you money in the long run.
Different from tread life warranties offered by the tire manufacturer, road hazard warranties are usually offered by the tire shop where you have your tires replaced.
This warranty is optional and if you choose to buy it, you’ll need to pay an extra cost separately from the cost of the new tires. The tire shops often charge around 10-15% of the tire selling price. You can also find some great plans offering a fixed price of $10 that covers tire replacement regardless of its cost.
How to Save Money When Buying Replacement Tires
Buying a new set of RV tires isn’t a cheap investment. Fortunately, by inspecting your tires every month, you can soon recognize the signs and know the time you’ll need tire replacement. This gives you time for getting prepared and doing a thorough research on the tires you need.
It not only makes the RV tire shopping less stressful but also ensures you’ll have time to find discounts or sales programs which could save you a handsome amount of money on this.
There are a few steps you can follow to save money on the purchase. Shopping around for the best deal on the model you need is a good place to start.
You can also look for discounts and special offers from reputable tire retailers. There are often discounts available from the tire manufacturer and tire retailer websites, most often in the form of savings on a complete set.
Finally, be sure to compare the cost of new tires with the cost of having your current tires repaired. By following these tips, you can get the best price on replacement tires and keep more money in your pocket. And remember, it can’t hurt to try negotiating.