Caravan tyre safety is a topic I’ve written quite a lot about on our blog. Its a topic I’ve been asked about many times in the past by our guests. Therefore, I feel its important to highlight the best practices to maintain caravan tyres in good condition. So with this post, I wanted to discuss caravan tyre savers. To explain what they are, when they should be used and to what degree they can ‘save’ your caravan tyres. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of the some of the common caravan tyre savers I’ve seen our guests using. I will also discuss other methods that some people use instead of tyre savers. One method as I’ll discuss below while effective may actually invalidate your caravan insurance.
The image above shows some typical examples of caravan tyre savers. You would be forgiven for thinking they are just levelling ramps. Essentially caravan levelling ramps and tyre savers are very similar. However, the key difference with tyre savers is the curve instead of a flat surface. Whether you can use levelling ramps and tyre savers at the same time is a tricky one. Below I’ll discuss some levelling ramps and tyre savers which can be used together, however that solution has its drawbacks.
Introduction to Caravan Tyre Savers
So how exactly can a curved piece of plastic help to ‘save’ your caravan tyres? Well, its to do with tyre flat spots and trying to reduce the risk of caravan tyre blowouts on the road. If you are not familiar with the risk and implications of a caravan tyre blowout please read my post on caravan safety and security advice. Within that post, I reference an example of a caravanner detailing their experience of a caravan tyre blowout. In that instance, as is the case in many others, the cause was thought to be a tyre flat spot. Hence, the purpose of using caravan tyre savers is to try and reduce the chances of the tyres developing a flat spot.
A typical example of a pair of caravan tyre savers from Fiamma: Image – Amazon
What Causes Caravan Tyre Flat Spots (Ovalization)?
Caravans spend a lot of their life sitting idle. Hence, all the weight of the caravan is pushing down on a relatively small surface area where the tyre contacts the ground. The longer the caravan stays in a stationary position the higher the change the rubber will form a more pronounced flat spot. You may also hear this issue referred to as ‘tyre ovalization’. Older caravan tyres are more prone to developing flat spots as the rubber is less elastic. Furthermore, as you would expect, the heavier the caravan is the higher the chance of a flat spot forming. A heavy caravan on a single axle is at the most risk, as a twin axle caravan is going to spread the load over four tyres, not two.
How Do Caravan Tyre Savers Help?
The curved profile of caravan tyre savers helps to distribute the load placed on the tyre over a wider footprint. With a wider footprint to distribute the load placed on the tyres due to the weight of the caravan its less likely a flat spot will develop. However, everything is relative. If the caravan is left idle for an extended period of time the tyre may still become misshapen. Therefore, my personal recommendation is even with caravan tyre savers you should rotate the tyres at least once over winter storage. If you are not using caravan tyre savers I would recommend rotating the tyres at least several times while it sitting in the storage yard over winter or while on your driveway.
Even when using caravan tyre savers its a still a good idea to periodically rotate the caravans tyres: Image – Amazon
Why Not Just Take Off The Caravans Wheels While in Storage?
Instead of using caravan tyre savers I know at least a few of our guests who while their caravan is in winter storage, jack up the caravan, take off the wheels and use axle stands. They then store the caravan wheels under the caravan over the winter months. This solution will indeed protect the tyres from flat spots and protect them from UV damage. However, before you take this approach you need to check the terms of your caravan insurance. Many insurance providers state that a wheel lock must be fitted at all times to reduce the chance of theft. Therefore, if you remove the wheels and place the caravan on axle stands you may be invalidating your insurance. Furthermore, outside of the winter months its generally impractical to remove the wheels each time the caravan is stationary, hence the benefit of caravan tyre savers.
While jacking up your caravan and removing the wheels during storage can avoid tyre flat spots it could also invalidate your insurance: Image – Amazon
Using Caravan Tyre Savers Along with Levelling Ramps
If you are staying on a seasonal pitch or staying at a caravan site for more than just a few weeks you may want to consider using tyre savers. However, if the site isn’t perfectly level how can you level the caravan while at the same time using tyre savers? You will not be able to use most tyre savers with most levelling ramps. However, the one exception that I’m currently aware of is the Milenco tyre savers. I’ve included a short video below from Martin ‘The Caravan Nut’ on his experiences with the Milenco tyre savers.
So if you notice in the video above on the front of the box it states:
“Can be used in conjunction with the Milenco Stacka Levels”
Now, I must admit in my post on levelling ramps I didn’t reference the Milenco Stacka levels. The reason being I’ve never actually seen any of our guests use them and I didn’t actually know they existed. So after watching Martins video above, I got curious what the Stacka levels were, especially as they can be used along with the Milenco tyre savers.
The Milenco Stacka wedges can be linked together to form levelling ramps of sufficient height and also link together with the Milenco tyre savers: Image – Amazon
In their basic principle, I do like the idea of the Stacka wedges. Not only because they are the only levelling ramps which I’m currently aware of which you can also use a tyre saver with, but because you can build a ramp to suit the specific ground levels. However, after reading the reviews for the Stacka wedges some people are experiencing problems. If you were trying level the caravan on hard standing I don’t think you would have a problem. However, if you were on a softer subsurface the joints between the Stacka pads may apparently fail. Placing a wooden board/plank under the whole length of Jacka pads should resolve this issue. But then you are also having to carry those in the caravan as well.
Alternatives to Using Caravan Tyre Savers?
If you are trying to both level the caravan and protect the tyres from flat spots at the same time are there any other alternatives? Well, you could consider an hydraulic caravan self-levelling setup, but that’s just not financially viable for most people. The other alternative you could consider is the Lock-n-Level inflatable airbags. If your not sure what these are I’ve included a video below filmed by popular YouTuber Dan Trudgian a few years back.
The Lock-n-Level was made specifically to simplify an issue that many caravanners including ourselves and our guests have. That’s been able to level a caravan and then fit the AL-KO wheel lock. Some caravan insurance companies may state you have to fit the AL-KO wheel lock and no other lock. The issue is trying to align the lock while pulling the caravan up onto a levelling ramp. This can be challenging to say the least.
Besides being an easy means to fit an AL-KO wheel lock and level a caravan, the Lock-n-Level also servers as an excellent tyre saver to avoid flat spots: Image – Amazon
However, if you observe the video and image above what you will notice is that due to it being an airbag the tyre does not have a small load contact point. In fact, with a Lock-n-Level airbag, the load distribution on the tyre is even better than that provided by the solid plastic caravan tyre savers. Therefore, the Lock-n-Level is arguably one of the best means currently available to level a caravan and protect the tyres from flat spots at the same time.
Conclusions on Caravan Tyre Savers
Something I do want to reference with regards to tyre savers is they are not a reason to ignore general caravan tyre best practice. In other words, you should still be changing your caravan tyres every five years. Furthermore, you need to know your caravan tyre pressures and have a suitable 100PSI rated tyre gauge to check them. Tyre pressure monitoring is also worth looking into and your insurance company may actually provide you with a discount for using one. Specifically, with regards to caravan tyre savers, I do think they are a good idea while your caravan is in storage. However, if your caravan is sat idle for more than a couple of months I think tyre rotation is still important. In terms of using tyre savers while on-site and when levelling is needed I do think the Lock-n-Level is currently one of the best options. However, if your caravan is stationary for less than a couple of weeks I’m not sure tyre flat spots are that likely.
I hope the information above on caravan tyre savers has been useful. I do think doing everything you reasonably can as a caravanner to look after your caravan tyres is very important. Not just for your own safety but for the safety of other road users. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common caravan site. 🙂