VIDEO: Sexy, Controversial, Tire Pressure

Posted In: Airstream, Tires, Video

What, tires AGAIN?

For some reason, I’m thinking of an old Brady Bunch episode. You know, the one in which Jan exclaims, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Except on this day, you, the loyal reader, are in the role of Jan. And you’re exclaiming, “Tires, tires, tires!”

Tires are an ongoing concern for anyone using wheels, and that includes most RV owners. (I haven’t seen too many RVs without wheels.)

Let’s indulge in a “fun” (at least in retrospect) tire story…

A few years ago, Kristy and I found ourselves in the Czech Republic. It was November. The weather was cold. We decided to rent a car and drive it down to Italy. So we took a train to a nearby town, a taxi to a car rental company, and selected a small Skoda (Eastern European econobox). After repeatedly assuring the company that I was a competent driver, we signed the paperwork and drove away. Within 20 minutes I had blown my first tire.

How did this happen? A few minutes after leaving the rental company, we stopped to consult our map. (No GPS luxuries in those days.) When backing out of our parking spot, the tire scrubbed BARELY a nearby curb — and it exploded. These particular Skoda tires had the strength and consistency of helium party balloons. They gave me a new appreciation for the steel-belted radials that are standard in the United States.

After changing the Skoda tire in FREEZING weather, we returned to the rental station. We needed a new fullsize tire, as the dinky spare looked as if it belonged on a children’s toy. After examining the destroyed tire/balloon, a company employee said, in broken English, “YOU … did… this…”

Ummm, yes I did. Fortunately, a brand new Skoda tire was as cheap as it should be. It cost less than $40!


Now let’s return to RV tires. Yes, my friends, TIRES. Our topic once again is tires. If you are planning to go anywhere with your RV, you’ll find that tires are a quite necessary part of the experience. You will inevitably suffer flats. You may suffer blowouts. Our goal is to minimize these events to the extent possible.

The mission of today’s episode is to consider TIRE PRESSURE. You may have wonderful tires, but if they are overinflated (or as is more common, underinflated) then you will have problems. Improperly inflated tires suffer all sorts of negative handling and wear issues.

Even more troubling is the danger of a BLOWOUT. Yes, an UNDERinflated tire is actually a strong candidate for a blowout. Underinflation causes the tire walls to buckle, strain, and suffer uneven weight distribution. If a tire wall actually blows out, you may find yourself in a scary and dangerous emergency situation.

So go check your tire pressure, for goodness sakes.

We carry a Campbell Hausfield air compressor with us on the road. I’ve owned the thing for at least a decade. It does what it’s supposed to do. It’s loud and obnoxious, but it inflates tires. You might consider getting one of these yourself.

To determine recommended tire pressures, LOOK TO YOUR MANUFACTURER’S RECOMMENDATIONS for your specific vehicle. Ours are printed on a metal tag that’s affixed to the side of our Airstream.

The tire pressure reading on the sidewall of the tire itself is the MAXIMUM LOAD pressure, and not the recommended pressure. Although in our case, oddly enough, they are one and the same — 65psi.

Secondly, with regard to ST (Special Trailer) tires, there are some unique considerations that add to the confusion. Based upon industry standards, if ST tires are used at speeds between 66 and 75 MPH, it is necessary to increase the cold inflation pressures by 10psi above the recommended pressure for the load.

Click here for more information on GOODYEAR MARATHON SPECIAL TRAILER TIRES.

With that said, increasing tire pressure ABOVE the maximum rated load doesn’t sound like a good idea. So if you are using an Airstream and Goodyear Marathon ST tires, what to do? The easiest, if not most realistic, recommendation is to maintain speeds of less than 65 MPH.

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