Buying A Used RV? If The RV Has Been Parked In The Sun, Better Check The Tires… Again!

by Curtis

Longterm RV Storage, Sun And Heat Issues, Tires

rv-motorhome-tires.jpg What a deal… after looking at motorhomes for months, you finally found just the one you want!

It was owned by an elderly couple that bought it new in 1995.  After traveling around the country for a year or so their health started to slip.  They parked it under the carport where it has barely turned a wheel for almost 5 years.  Now they need to get rid of it so they can move into a small apartment.

Because it was semi-protected from direct sunlight, the interior is still in pretty good shape.  The exterior has been waxed occasionally and overall, the condition of this rig looks pretty good.  With complete maintenance records, and after a half hour drive around town you make the deal.  Giving the couple a hefty check, you are now the proud owner of a very low mileage motorhome.

Now all that’s left is that 5-hour drive back home — straight down the freeway.  About 2 hours into it, you experience an explosive blowout on a rear tire.

Fortunately, you were able to keep it under control as you pulled over, but now you’ve got a real problem!…

When Old Tires Look New

When the outside dual let go, it took the inside tire with it.

Two flats at once!

How can this be?  The tires had plenty of tread left!

Ultraviolet rays, when combined with time, will destroy your tires while they set.  The sun weakens the rubber and makes it brittle.  That means that the tires become unable to flex as the wheel turns and flexes under load.

The scary part is:  you looked the tires over thoroughly before you even took it for a test dreve, and you saw no sign of cracks or dry rot.

This is where an old tire can fool youThe fact that the RV hadn’t been used for a couple years allowed the tires to deteriorate with no outward change in appearance.  If you had re-inspected the tires after your test drive, you probably would have seen some cracking and checking starting to develop.

What really happened?  Once you got up to highway speeds, heat started to develop.  After a period of time, the tire could no longer handle the stress and let go, very suddenly.  Because the interior tire was equally weakened, when parts of the outside dual struck it, a second failure happened almost instantly.

It Almost Happened To Me

When I bought a used fifth wheel trailer awhile back, I noticed the shredded remains of a tire on the rim that was mounted on the rack on the back bumper.  Covered with a hard shell enclosure, if I hadn’t looked closely, I would have assumed it was a good spare tire.

The remaining 4 tires were a miss-matched set, indicating more then one had failed at some point.  I proceeded home cautiously at a reduced speed, and before I moved that 5th wheel trailer again, I had invested in 4 brand new tires at a cost of over $400.

I knew the tires would be untrustworthy and took this into account when I made the deal.  Naturally, I also inspected and repacked the wheel bearings at the same time I installed the new tires.

Imagine the cost to replace all the tires on a large motorhome with a tag axle.  That comes to 8 tires, easily amounting to $1,500 when balancing and installation are considered.  Be sure to figure that into the price when you’re shopping.

If the RV is over 5 years old, there’s a good chance they need to be replaced.  Here’s what to look for.

How To Make Your RV Tires Last Longer

You can greatly extend the life of your tires with a little preventative care.  Of course, the best option would be to garage your RV whenever possible.  But this option may not be available to you, so the next best thing is to simply protect the tires from the rays of the sun.

Wheel covers are cheap and readily available at any RV dealer.  They are simple vinyl covers that slip right over the tire and keep it covered when the RV is in storage.  There are tire cleaners and tire care products that will somewhat protect the tires, as well.  But the best way to protect your tires is to simply block out the rays of the sun with tire covers.

Parking on blacktop driveways is better for the life of the tires than leaving the RV on dirt or grass for long periods of time.  If you know the RV will be stationary for many months, then jacking the wheels up off the ground will help to maintain their correct shape.

Here are more great RV tire tips from Goodyear tire.

Maintaining proper tire inflation and taking some simple steps to protect your tires will help you avoid early tire replacement from neglect.  Be safe… make sure your tires are always in good condition and keep them protected from the sun.