Just recently we published the Ultimate Guide to Rv Living, and 33 Reasons Why Full Time RV Living has become so popular, and everyone just loves those articles!
In both of these detailed and informative posts, I mention the importance of tire maintenance, and go into a bit of detail about it.
In this post I will give you more detail, and a cautionary tale about why RV Tire Maintenance is so important.
So important in fact it could save your life.
Here is our story.
In 2014, as newbie RV travellers, what we realized early on was that we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we started to keep a log – a diary of sorts when things wouldn’t work, needed repair, heck anything at all.
Sometimes it was just going through the instruction booklets that came with the trailer – our previous owners kept it all and we are very thankful for that! Other times we searched the web and popular forums such as xxxxxxx.
But life does have its ups and downs, and sometimes, well sometimes you just have to earn your experience the hard way. You know what I mean? Well here’s what happened.
What’s the harm in buying more insurance?
When at Camping World, the sales staff told us about the special roadside assistance package that was being promoted with Good Sam, only $65.
When my husband reminded me we already had a package with a well know roadside assistance company, I said “it’s such a good deal. Besides, you can never have too much insurance.”
I would remember that statement many times over during the next few weeks.
Our trip had begun 10 days earlier, travelling from home in southern Ontario, in our 2008 Titantium Fifth Wheel, (pulled by a Chevrolet Silverado 1 ton Dually Diesel )to Myrtle Beach, SC. Along the way we stopped at a KOA in Fredericksburgh, while we visited family in the Washington, DC area.
Travelling on to Mebane, NC we stayed at the Jones Station RV Park, a delightful RV park, with wide open spaces and lots of room to run the dogs. We would spend several days here while visiting our good friends, Skip and Nancy in Mebane, and spending a day at the US Open Golf Tournament at Pinehurst, NC.
Our final leg was Myrtle Beach, SC and we stayed at the Ocean Lakes Resort, a huge resort, with campsites, cottages, condominiums. It was a bit of sensory overload for us and our three pooches, Max, Millie and Barkley. But we played lots of golf, and had fun walking the beach every night.
We were heading north and east to the Maritimes – our next journey, and had been asked by my cousin Alyson to pick up some trailer accessories at Camping World. There was a huge store very close to our campsite, so on our way out of MB, we stopped in to check it out.
And of course that’s how we ended up with Good Sam Roadside Assistancepackage. And a bunch of other RV stuff, but I digress.
So with sunburns, tired pooches, and a brand new roadside assistance plan from Good Sam, we headed our Fiver (RV talk for a Fifth Wheel) north and east – destination Prince Edward Island, Canada.
The trip up through the States was an experience in itself. Following our GPS, we ended up in some pretty interesting places. We were so grateful to the officer at one of the toll booths on a turnpike – the Jersey Turnpike I think?
She told us to get off the turnpike (it was costing a small fortune) to stick to lessert travelled highway and we would end up at the Maine/New Brunswick Border. And we did, several days later, enjoying the drive, but we were now anxious to get to our destination- Twin Shores RV Park near Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
We decided to make a run for it this day – still plenty of daylight left, but as we arrived near Fredericton, NB, we pulled off the road to have a real meal and relax for a couple of hours. Beside the dogs needed a good stretch too.
Relaxed, refreshed and with full bellies , we were now ready to finish the final push to PEI. But as we got ready to load up – all five of us, we stood beside the Fiver and stared down at one of the wheels – it was completely flat.
It appeared that we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. My hubby pulled out his travel card – from the well know roadside assistance company and called the number. RV roadside assistance is a specialized service and when the person on the other end of our cell phone asked if we had a jack in our car, we knew we were in trouble.
I believe the words my husband used were “Son, you want me to jack up 15,000 lb worth of trailer by myself?” They really didn’t have a response for that and said they would call us back.
Looking at each other with a “what do we do now?” look, it was obviously time for Plan B. And so we called the number on the Good Sam Roadside Assistancecard we had just purchased less than a week before. I even think I might have held my breath while waiting for the call to go through.
We were shocked. We immediately were connected with someone very knowledgeable about RV’s – she asked what type of unit we had, length, weight etc. and the exact location that we were sitting in.
But the very first thing she asked?
“Are you and family safe, sir?”
We assured her we were and within less than 20 minutes a Tire Repair Tow Truck arrived, jacked up the trailer and put on our spare. We were cautioned, however, to get a new tire as we were now traveling without a spare and upon arrival in PEI at 4 a.m., we made arrangements to do exactly that.
I won’t go into details here about our time on the Island. PEI is glorious in the summer and if you haven’t been, you really need to go. Our time there was way too short, and as all good things must come to an end, we packed up and with a brand new tire firmly installed on the Fifth Wheel, and all wheels balanced, we turned westward and bid our Island vacation a tearful goodbye.
Well not really, but it sounds good doesn’t it? ?
Remember what I said about having to learn some experiences the hard way?
Relaxed, happy and looking forward to getting home, we made excellent time as we passed Moncton, New Brunswick, travelling the Trans Canada 2 and making our way west and north. W were getting near the capital Fredericton. The highway through here is in really good shape, and we were really motoring – probably doing about 120km/hour (65 mph). The dually is so powerful, you really don’t know you are pulling a Fifth Wheel.
When we stopped shortly after to fill up with diesel – I decided to give the dogs a stretch. This was an Irving station and there was a nice little picnic area. While the pups were enjoying the sights and smells of fresh grass to sniff, I looked up to see Mark waving at me frantically, so headed over to the diesel pumps.
He was pointing at the wheels. Well he was pointing to where the new wheel used to be. At some point, during the past 3 hours, the new wheel had completely shorn off the axle and we had been driving with only three wheels!
The scary part is that we had been driving 65 mph (120 kmh) and we are convinced (and the tire company confirmed this) that if it hadn’t been for the dually truck we were pulling the trailer with, we would have been experienced a very serious accident. Or worse.
A quick call to the “RV specialist” who sold us the tire and installed it resulted in a full refund. And a confession that ‘maybe I didn’t torque the tire enough’. He also didn’t tell us to check the tire every few hundred miles to make sure the bolts were good and snug.
Good Sam to the rescue once again! They dispatched a tire repair company from Surrey – we were out in the middle of nowhere. Because the wheel was completely gone, they had to fabricate the bolts needed to fasten the new wheel to the trailer.
In fact we needed the bolts before they could even put the old spare on! Two days of boon docking at the Irving station later, we had a new wheel, a new torque wrench and were now tired, and very weary.
Again, Good Sam Roadside Assistancecovered the cost of all the service calls (there were several) and we of course paid for a new wheel and tire.
Our lesson learned was the importance of having a torque wrench and checking your tires every so many miles.
Our education about the importance of RV tire care was not over however. We would experience another tire issue as we passed Quebec City – when a motorist flagged us and pointed to a right tire that now had a huge bulge!. At this point I was making lists upon lists of what we needed to do for RV tire maintenance.
Once more we went through the process of sitting stranded, while Good Sam arrived, and put on our spare tire. Exhausted beyond belief, we pulled in to the next campsite and spent a couple of days to calm down and draw breath.
So what the heck happened?
We purchased our Fifth Wheel from an RV Dealer, but it was used, about six years old. The exterior and interior were in awesome shape, but what we didn’t know was the age and wear on the RV tires that the Fiver had experienced.
So the smart thing we could have done before heading out on such a long trip, was to have the tires inspected professionally, and replacing your tires was a good idea when they were showing significant wear and age.
We learned that taking care of your RV Tires, and regular RV Tire maintenance was critical to road safety, and an enjoyable trip.
From our experience with the Tire Shop in New Brunswick, we were taught the importance of the torque wrench, and how it was critical to check tire condition and pressure as well as torque them regularly throughout the trip.
By that time we were so paranoid, we were checking at every stop!
I’ve included some links to RV Tire specialists – that will provide information about tire pressure etc. as well as Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance. Check your warranty with your dealer as well.
I would caution you though, that if you are buying a used unit, like we did, to put new tires into the budget.
As soon as we arrived home, we spent $1500 on four new tires and rims. Had we known to do this at the beginning of our trip, a lot of worry and angst would have been avoided.
So here is our Top 5 List for RV Tire Maintenance!
1. Tire Condition and Pressure
2. Checking your RV tires every time you stop
3. Keeping the tires clean
4. Replacing your tires when you buy used
5. Practice Tire Safety While Travelling
Do you have any RV travel stories to share? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!