There are plenty of tires on the market, running the gamut of sizes, types, brands and so many other factors. When it comes to choosing the best tires for your RV or travel trailer, the key to making the right choice is knowing all the facts. You’ve spent countless hours choosing and maintaining your rig. Let’s spend a few minutes finding out more about how to choose the right tires for your RV travel trailer.
P Tires versus LT Tires versus ST Tires
P (Passenger) or LT (Light Truck) tires are just fine for daily drivers and tow vehicles but, when it comes time to look for new tires for your rig, ST (Special Trailer) tires are the only way to go. ST tires are made specifically for RVs, cargo trailers and travel trailers to meet the rigorous industry standards and manufacturers guidelines and provide you with the safest ride possible. The majority of the information and guidelines that you will need to select your ST tires will be found in your rig’s owner’s manual. By choosing tires that meet these manufacturer guidelines, you’re likely to enjoy a longer tire lifespan as well as improved safety and handling.
Benefits of ST (Special Trailer) Tires
While ST tires are specifically designed with your RV or Travel Trailer in mind, they can also be used on a variety of towables like boat trailers, utility trailers and other campers. ST tires are constructed with the higher load requirements and demands of trailering in mind. ST tires have thicker, stiffer sidewalls than P or LT tires due to the addition of bigger polyester cords in the tire’s construction. The steel cords in a ST tire also have a large diameter and greater tensile strength to further support additional load requirements.
By minimizing sidewall flex, ST tires are less susceptible to sidewall puncture and less likely to roll under the rim during turning. ST tires also allow the trailer to track better behind the tow vehicle and reduce trailer sway.
ST tires are made with a greater load carrying capacity to handle the weight of your travel trailer but there are still many weight-related factors to keep in mind to ensure maximum safety and performance.
In order to properly manage the weight of your RV trailer, all tires must be identical in size and the combined capacity of the tires must equal or exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the axle. In fact, the combined capacity of all of the tires should exceed the loaded trailer weight by 20 percent. Too much weight on your ST tires, or any tires for that matter, greatly increases the risk of a tire blowout or even bending the axle.
In addition to load capacity, you will also want to consider the load range of your ST tires. Load range refers to how much load the tire can safely carry at a specified inflation pressure and is identified by letters or numbers on the side of the tire’s sidewall.
LT (Light Truck) and ST (Special Trailer) tires both designate ranges in ascending alphabetical order, with load range ‘B’ representing a 4-ply rating at 35 PSI; C representing a 6-ply rating at 50 PSI, and so on. As you can see, the further down the alphabet you go, the stronger the tire will be.
Tire inflation and tire pressure is important for any vehicle but especially so for the ST tires on your RV travel trailer. Underinflation is the number one cause of ST tire failure so always be sure to keep them inflated to the maximum inflation indicated on the sidewall. Underinflation can also cause excessive heat buildup and quicker or more uneven tread wear. The best time to check the inflation levels is when your tires are cool and have not been exposed to the sun. If you must check your ST tires when they are hot to the touch from operation, be sure to add three psi to the max inflation. A tire-pressure monitoring system can be used to report real-time information of the pressure of your tires directly to your vehicle or your smartphone. There’s always the old-fashioned method of checking your tires with a manual or digital pressure gauge.
Wear and Tear
Due to their special construction, ST tires are designed for significantly less use than regular passenger tires. They are constructed to be incredibly durable … but not invincible. Time and the elements can weaken your ST tires, which have a projected lifespan of 3 to 5 years. In approximately three years, roughly one-third of the tire's strength is gone and should be very carefully monitored. The rubber of ST tires can become brittle with age and begin to rot, especially when exposed to excess sun or heat. ST tires are generally only speed rated to 65 miles/105 kilometres per hour. Any time spent travelling over that speed will result in heat buildup and fatigue on your ST tires. If your RV or travel trailer is parked or stored outside for a long period of time, you may want to consider tire covers when stationary to protect your tires from the harsh elements.
The average ST tire has an expected lifespan of 5.000 - 12,000 miles / 8,000 - 19,300 kilometres. That is a large travel range but it is based on the average RV travel trailer usage of a few short trips per season. Longer hauls don’t necessarily mean that you will have to replace your tires every year but they do mean that you will have to keep a close eye on their tread levels and inflation.
Now that you know what to look for, and how to maintain them, i’s time to start shopping for your RV travel trailers’ new tires. To see all of the available brands and sizes of RV and Travel Trailer tires, visit RV Part Shop Canada’s selection of RV Trailer Tires.