When you hit the road in your RV, you rack up many miles and hit high speeds. This can cause wear on your RV trailer tires if they aren’t routinely balanced.
You do not have to balance your RV trailer tires. However, balancing your tires can avoid premature tire wear, prevent axel-bearing damage, and prevent unnecessary vibrations.
The question of whether your RV trailer tires should be balanced can be complicated. It is good practice to do so to ensure the life of your investment.
Why Do RV Trailer Tires Need To Be Balanced?
The role of the trailer differs from that of a passenger vehicle, meaning tire balancing is important for different reasons.
Car tires are balanced to help with gripping the road and prevent passengers from feeling the bumps while riding in your vehicle. A driver can notice unbalanced tires in steering as they accelerate their speed, often feeling hop or wobble in their tire.
Trailers are concerned with carrying a cargo load, not a smooth ride for passengers. However, unbalanced tires can still cause wobble and in turn damage to your trailer or the cargo, it carries.
What Does Balancing A Tire Mean?
Your wheel or tire weight may not be perfectly balanced during the manufacturing process. This requires the need to balance your wheels and tires.
You complete this balancing act via a machine that spins the tire and measures its centrifugal force. Weight is then added to the opposite side, compensating for any unbalanced rubber from your tire. Once the weight tests good, the process is completed.
What Damage Does An Unbalanced Tire Cause An RV?
If one trailer tire is unbalanced, it could cause unbalanced weight in your trailer that is applied to one tire causing it to vibrate or even bounce. For an RV, this could mean sway and loss of traction.
Unbalanced RV trailer tires can cause heat leading to:
- Premature tire wear
- Tread separation (which at highway speed can have serious consequences)
- Blow outs
- Loss of traction, causing erratic trailer behavior
Unbalanced tires can also cause vibration, leading to:
- Rattling rivets, screws, and other items
- Lose of loose items causing extra expense
- Axle bearing failure
- Suspension component damage
Shake and vibration caused by unbalanced tires can also damage cargo being transmitted. Prolonged vibration can lead to shaking and breaking of items being hauled.
How Do You Identify Your Trailer Tires?
Trailer tires are categorized by either Special Tire (ST) or Light Truck (LT).
A typical tire name would be, for example, ST 205/75 D14.
The 205 is the width of the tire while 75 represents the tire’s height being 75 percent of its width. The D (sometimes will be an R), signifies a bias-ply tire. The 14 that follows the D or R is the diameter in inches.
Importance Of Load Range On A Trailer Tire
The load range tells you the load capacity of your tires. It is rated with a single letter, such as A, D, etc.
Load range varies between sizes of the tire. The best practice would be to select tires with a load capacity that matches the load capacity of the tires that came with your trailer.
It is important to keep in mind that other trailer components also have a weight capacity, not just your tires. That means increasing your tire capacity may not change the load capacity of your trailer.
Where Can You Balance Your Trailer Tires?
This can often be a controversial topic. Some believe that most dealerships or tire stores can balance RV trailer tires.
Some trailer wheels have unique designs. Those unique designs could require you to go to a shop that uses an adapter and can balance wheels based on lug holes.
It is important to note that when you pay a dealer to install new tires that you often pay for both a mount and balance.
Calling your trusted RV dealership or the place you purchased your trailer would be a good first step in finding where you can balance your trailer tires.
How Long Do Trailer Tires Last?
You want to replace trailer tires every three to six years. It can depend on the tire.
If you don’t use your trailer often, tires can soak up harmful UV rays, have dry rot, or gain flat spots.
Even if they are in regular use and look ok from the outside, it is good practice to replace trailer tires. Recommendations are between 5 to 6 years old at most or if you’ve run them for roughly 10,000-12,000 miles.
Bad Ride? It May Not Be Your Tires
If you have balanced your trailer tires and still see tread damage or have blowouts, it could be several other factors.
- Underinflated tire causing excessive heat
- Tire overload
- Exceeding the speed rating
- Flat spots
- Bent spindles
If you still have problems, your tires could also be out of round. This is when your tire becomes oval-shaped. It can be corrected by rotating the tire 180 degrees on the wheel.
Balancing your RV travel trailer tires is not necessary, but it is good practice. An unbalanced travel trailer tire can cause catastrophic damage to your road journey, leaving you stranded on the side of the road or in a remote area.