“Kicking the tires” on a vehicle to test their soundness is an idea from the 1920’s & 30 when tires usually didn’t last more than a few thousand miles or a year or so. I do think the idea of checking the tires on any vehicle is a good one but “kicking” should not be taken literally!

What should you consider with a new RV or tow vehicle? When buying new, you can ask the dealer if they will be submitting the tire registration forms or if they will be providing the registration form for you to complete and mail in. In either case the dealer should read the DOT on each tire and provide the full serial, in writing to you. Don’t be surprised if the dealer says you are the first person to ask for this, as the law stipulates “Dealers are required by Federal Law to offer registration to all tire customers. The tire registration law also stipulates that this information can be used for recall purposes only but many consider this just a requirement for tire dealers.”

Another item to consider with a new vehicle purchase is the spare tire. Is there one? If so how do you get to it so you can check its inflation pressure. Doesn’t do you much good to have a spare that is flat.

Now if you have a pick-up, Class-B, or Class-C you probably have LT type tires which should be relatively easy to obtain or have changed if you have a flat. Trailers may have ST type tires and sometimes they are an odd size or have a non-standard load capacity. ST applications are complex enough to warrant a separate post which I will do next month.

The big question is what to do if you have a Class-A? You probably do not get a spare tire with your $200-$300,000 purchase. In fact, there is a good chance you may not have a single space big enough for a mounted spare tire & wheel. While you probably don’t need to carry a mounted spare – as the road service guy should be able to change the tire on the roadside – you really need to consider the question of where you will get a replacement tire if needed.

You probably will plan on having road-side service do the job of changing out your flat as a 22.5 size tire and wheel can weigh well over 150 – 200 pounds, and special tools are needed to get the lug nuts off & on safely. But there are some RVs that have unique size tires and it might take a few days for a service company to get one and you will most likely not be getting any discount. Do you really want to have to wait on the side of the road for hours or days to get your special size tire delivered from 100’s or 1000’s of miles away?

How do you know if you have a special size that will be hard to replace? The only way to learn that is for you to call around to local tire dealers and ask for price & availability of the size, type and load range you would need. If you have a special, hard to find size and if you do have space for just a tire, you could get low cost, used, worn tire of the correct size and carry it along. You can still pack some stuff in the center of the tire so you aren’t losing much space. You will definitely be saving some money if you don’t have to buy a tire that matches the rest of the tires already on your coach. You will also save time as you won’t be waiting days for a new tire to be shipped in but you still need to measure to be sure you have a big enough space. If there is no spare and you don’t have a storage space large enough to carry a spare tire, you just have to hope your tire size isn’t too hard to find or too expensive.

One final point to consider is the tire brand. Is it from one of the major tire manufacturers that have thousands of service dealers across the country or are they a smaller importer and you will need to have the replacement tire shipped in to wherever you are. If you want warranty service you may also have to pay to ship the old tire back to some distributor and hope you get some compensation. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to only have to visit a company store in the next medium size town?

Next time, ST type tires. Then after that we will consider the spare tire situation in the used vehicle market.