Caravan Tyres – what you need to know
The condition of caravan tyres is often overlooked because they can be half hidden under the vehicle. Additionally, the annoyance or difficulty involved in manoeuvering a caravan in and out of a tyre depot or garage meant for many years that replacing caravan tyres was not a job for the faint-hearted!
The free mobile fitting service offered by etyres makes all of that a thing of the past and means that you don’t even need to move your caravan to have new tyres fitted. To find new tyres for your caravan, simply enter the tyre’s size into the search tool above or call us on 0800 028 9000.
Caravan tyre care
Before any trip make sure you look carefully for signs of aging in or damage to your caravan tyres, including cuts, lumps, embedded objects or cracks in the sidewall. Watch our video here on how to check if your tyres need to be replaced.
When checking the tread depth remember that caravan tyres, like all car or light commercial vehicle tyres, must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in order to be legal and roadworthy. However, due to relatively low mileage and infrequent use, the rubber and tyre quality may deteriorate before this tread wear depth of 1.6mm is reached. It is therefore good practice to replace all caravan tyres every three years, and it is essential that they are replaced before they are five years old. The ‘how old are my tyres?‘ section of this page gives a step by step guide on identifying tyre age.
Having correctly inflated tyres on both the towing vehicle and the caravan is essential for safety and stability. Incorrectly inflated tyres are more likely to suffer from a blowout, resulting in loss of control of the vehicle and potentially a serious accident. Maintaining the correct tyre pressure will increase the life of the tyre by ensuring even tread wear and increasing fuel economy. When a tyre is under-inflated, the force needed to make the wheels turn is greater, meaning that the engine needs more fuel to work harder.
It is best to check your caravan tyre pressures before each journey and to always do so when the tyres are cold. The correct pressure per square inch (psi) settings can be found in your vehicle handbook. Always note the different pressure settings required by an empty and fully-laden caravan.
All caravan tyres are designed to carry a specific maximum load or weight. An overloaded caravan tyre will quickly overheat, greatly increasing the risk of tyre blowout – particularly dangerous in single-axle caravans. On all caravan tyres, the load index is shown on the sidewall immediately after the size coding and in front of the speed coding letter. For example, a tyre might be marked 175/80/R/13 97T. Here 97 is the load index, something which is critically important in terms of the handling, stability and overall safety of the vehicle. To be legal and safe, a single axle caravan must have tyres designated by load index as suitable to carry at least half of the maximum allowable weight or Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM). Details of this can be found in the owner’s manual. A tyre with a load index which is lower than the caravan maker’s specifications can easily become overloaded.
Tyre impact damage
Sidewall impact damage is quite common in caravan tyres because of the relative ease with which kerbs can be clipped while towing. Sidewall impact can cause the plies within the tyre sidewall to delaminate. This is sometimes – but not always – visible if air escapes and forms a bubble between the plies. During cornering the load on caravan tyres can be up to one and half tonnes, meaning that a weakened tyre may suffer from a blowout. A bulge in the sidewall of any tyre cannot be repaired and calls for immediate replacement. If you have noticed such damage on your own vehicle click here to buy tyres online or call our national sales team on 0800 028 9000.
Storing your tyres
When preparing your caravan for storage over the winter months don’t forget to ensure that your tyres are protected to help extend their life. Make sure that you examine each tyre for signs of damage and that they are cleaned with water to remove traces of any chemicals and petrol that can cause the rubber to deteriorate. If possible, jack the caravan up to release the pressure on the tyres and turn them frequently. It is also advisable to cover the tyres to protect them from harmful UV rays.
Older tyres are more prone to blowouts irrespective of the tread left on them. As a result it is recommended that tyres are changed before they are five years old.
It is very simple to find out how old your caravan tyres are. The date of manufacture is shown on the sidewall of all caravan tyres, close to the wheel rim. Please see the image below
for the DOT (US Department of Transport) code. DOT codes are tyre identification numbers. Since the year 2000, tyre manufacturers have used a code consisting of four digits to show a tyre’s age: the first two digits indicate the calendar week of production and the second two the year of production. In the example above, this tyre was manufactured in week 47 of 2012. Tyres manufactured in the 1990’s have a small triangle after the DOT code. If your tyre has a three digit DOT code or a triangle then it is definitely too old now and should be replaced.
In summary make sure you do the following:
- Check the manufacturing dates of your caravan tyres. If they are over three years old consider replacing them, and if they are five years old be sure to replace them before your next journey.
- Inspect your caravan tyres for cuts, sidewall cracking or embedded objects, making sure that you check both the inner and the outer sidewalls.
- Check the pressure of all your caravan tyres, including the spare, regularly.
- Check the tyre pressure of the towing vehicle: some vehicle manufacturers specify slightly higher rear tyre pressures when towing.
- Check tread depths. If they are less than 3mm consider replacing the tyre, particularly if you are planning a long trip.
- If possible, use a torque wrench to check the caravan wheel bolts are tight.
- Check your jack: most will need a drop of oil on the screw mechanism. It is also worth having a suitable piece of board available to prevent the jack sinking into soft ground when parked off road.