The subject of caravan tyres and how long they last may not be the most interesting topic I could think to write about, however, it is one of the most important. When discussing how long caravan tyres last, what we are really talking about is at what point are the tyres not safe to tow on?
With regards to safety, there are differences between new and old tyres in terms of braking performance. However, the key concern is blowouts. If your not sure what a tyre blowout is, just watch the video below to see:
As you can see, with a tyre blowout there is really nothing you can do to retain control of the trailer. Travelling at speed is the most likely scenario for a blowout to occur, and obviously, that also carries the most significant chance of serious repercussions.
What Can Cause a Caravan Tyre Blowout?
There are various reasons why caravan tyre may blowout. For instance, over or under inflation of the tyres over time can lead to damage which results in a blowout. However, there also some other factors which can negatively impact on tyre safety.
Caravans Sitting Idle
So as you would expect, most people don’t use their caravans over winter. Therefore the caravan is sat idle for several months of the year. The weight of the caravan bearing down on one specific point of the tyre. This can distort the tyre and create a weak point. However, that week point doesn’t become apparent until you get the caravan on the road. Once up to speed and the temperature of the tyres rise that’s when the damage can become apparent.
Therefore it’s best practice to rotate the tyres each month that the caravan is sat idle. You can also consider the use of caravan tyre savers. These are a curved pad, typically made of plastic. The idea of the tyre saver is to support the weight of the caravan over a greater surface area of the tyre, avoiding flat spots.
If you do want to go down the tyre save route make sure they are well supported and made of a good quality UV stable plastic. We have purchased tyre savers in the past that became brittle over just one year and the edges snapped off. Alternatively, the wheels could be removed and the caravan left on axle stands.
Caravan tyre savers can help to avoid flat spots on the tyres when left idle: Image – Amazon.co.uk
UV Tyre Damage
Another factor which can lead to more rapid deterioration of caravan tyres is UV damage. Now, in the UK how much of an additional effect UV radiation plays in ageing the tyres, I’m not sure. Tyres will age and become less flexible over time no matter what. But, covering the tyres to protect them from UV radiation while the caravan is stored/idle is not difficult.
While your caravan is sat idle fitting some tyre covers is not a bad idea: Image – Amazon.co.uk
According to CaravanGuard apparently, 90% of their tyre related claims are to do with blowouts, with the average repair cost at £2,500! As you would expect, those claims raise considerably in the summer months. There are various choices you can make to help reduce your insurance by fitting a tyre pressure monitoring system or tyre bands, more details on those below.
How Often Should You Replace Caravan Tyres?
When it comes to how long do caravan tyres last, it will very rarely be when the tread is worn out. Most people simply don’t do the number of miles to wear down the tread that quickly. The main reason you should change your caravan tyres is down to their age. So to answer this question I thought I would include quotes from various organisations on their perspective on how often you should replace your caravan tyres:
“We recommend that you replace your caravan tyres when they reach five years old and should never be used when more than seven years old.” – Caravan and Motorhome Club
“Irrespective of the tread left on them, it’s advisable to change tyres before they reach 5 years old.” – Caravan Guard
“The generally accepted rule within the caravan industry is that tyres should be changed when five years old, even if they appear in perfect condition. Indeed, in The Netherlands, a caravan will not pass its MOT if a tyre is six years old or more.” – Outandaboutlive.co.uk
“Most expert commentators recommend that tyres are changed when they are five years old and that they should never be used after they are seven years old.” – Caravanwise.co.uk
So, as you can see, there is a pretty clear consensus that at 5 years and at most 7 years you need to change your caravan tyres. Its a similar rule for motorhome tyres. However, if you can see damage to the tyre sidewall you should seriously consider changing the tyres before this point.
Tyre Wall Cracks and Bulges
The video below from Blackcirles tyres provides a good quick overview of the various issues a tyre can suffer from and how to spot them. Tyre wall cracking and bulges are a particular concern for caravan tyres.
How can you tell the Age of Caravan Tyres?
In most (but not all cases) you can find out the age of your caravan tyres by looking for the DOT code. If the tyres don’t appear to have a DOT code, look around the tyre sidewall for a 4-digit code. It’s this 4-digit code either on its own or at the end of the DOT code which will tell you how old the tyres are.
The first two numbers indicate the week, and the second two numbers indicate the year. So in the example above those tyres were made on the 14th week of 2015.
Are Caravan Tyres different from Car Tyres?
There is no such thing as tyres ‘specially’ designed for caravans. There are tyres branded a ‘trailer tyres’, however, the sizes of these tyres are not really suitable for most caravans. The most important thing about the tyres that you purchase for your caravan is their load rating or load index. Once you know the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your caravan, you can work out the load rating of the tyres you require.
So in the case of the MTPLM rating of 1415kg as shown in the image above, each tyre needs to support just over 700kg. The general rule is to add another 20%, so you’re looking for the tyres to support just under 850kg each. If you check the tyre load index charts online that means a load rating of 102. You can compare this number to the load rating of the existing tyres on your caravan using the diagram below:
What should the Pressure be on Caravan Tyres?
Your caravan handbook should state what caravan tyre pressure you need to inflate the tyres too. However, if you have lost your handbook there is a useful tool provided by Tyresafe.org. You need to know your caravan’s MTPLM and tyre size. You then enter that information into the tool along with the number of wheels, depending on if its a single or double axle caravan.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems
You can fit a tyre pressure monitor system which will give constant feedback on your caravan tyres. Not only can this provide you with the reassurance that the tyres are properly inflated, but it can also lower your insurance. It’s worth checking with your insurer which tyre pressure monitoring systems they will provide a discount on. Autoexpress has recently done a review of tyre pressure monitoring systems which is worth checking out. However, its also a good idea to have a portable tyre pressure gauge within your caravan or motorhome.
There are various tyre pressure monitoring kits available. They are primarily used for cars, but you could use them for your caravan. Just make sure the wireless signal range is sufficient: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Tyre Safety Bands
Another option to consider for your caravan is tyre safety bands. Tyre safety bands help to keep the tyre on the rim in a blowout situation. It is worth noting, however, with a tyre safety band fitted it is more difficult to have the tyres changed. Therefore some fitters will charge more because of this.
A common brand of safety bands for caravans are Tyron. They are a product that some people love, and some people think they create too many issues when changing tyres. The video below provides a good overview of Tyron bands:
Do Caravan Tyres need Balancing?
It’s better to get the tyres balanced if you can. At relatively low speeds (below 50mph) you probably wouldn’t notice an unbalanced tyre. However, above 50mph on the motorway, that is where you may notice some vibration coming from the caravan. So if you do a lot of motorway miles in your caravan I would definitely consider getting the tyres balanced.
Quick Note on Caravan Movers and Tyre Damage
It is worth noting that a caravan mover which has not been properly fitted or adjusted can potentially cause damage to the tyres. The mover needs to engage against the tyre with sufficient force to move the wheel while not slipping. However, if it engages with too much force they can potentially distort the caravan tyres. This is less of an issue with motor movers which automatically engage.
Conclusions on How Long Do Caravan Tyres Last
So, in summary, really whatever your caravan tyres look like, you need to be changing them between 5-7 years. If you can see a significant amount of cracks or a bulge in the sidewall of your tyres, don’t wait, get them changed. Every caravanner should be giving their tyres a good inspection as part of their caravan maintenance schedule. You should also know how to change a caravan flat tyre.
You shouldn’t be judging how long your caravan tyres last based on tread depth. It’s highly likely after 5 years you will still have plenty of tread left on the tyres. The main problem is from the moment their made all tyres age and denature. They progressively become stiffer and less flexible, developing cracks and weak points. While I’m on the topic of tyres, you may be interested in my post on the best tyres for tow cars.
I hope you found this post useful and feel the urge to go and check the condition of your caravan tyres as a result. I also hope at some point you consider coming to visit us and our fully serviced hardstanding caravan pitches here at Horton Common. 🙂