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The best RV tire

Beware of cheap RV tire deals that are actually old stock. It’s easy to check. The sidewall has a DOT code like this: DOT V4 CC 00 0D 2217. The last four numbers tell you the week and year it was made. So here, it’s week 22 (May), in the year 2017.
Beware of cheap RV tire deals that are actually old stock. It’s easy to check. The sidewall has a DOT code like this: DOT V4 CC 00 0D 2217. The last four numbers tell you the week and year it was made. So here, it’s week 22 (May), in the year 2017. (BestReviews)

The easiest option when it comes to buying new RV tires is to swap like-for-like. After all, they’ve been doing a decent job up to now, right? OK, but shopping around could save you money, give you better mileage, and improve handling and braking.

So, we've been looking at the latest offerings from all the best brands, and we've put together a concise review. At the end, we've also picked a few favorites for your consideration. Top spot goes to the Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude RV Tire, a durable all-rounder that gives comfort and confidence, whatever the weather conditions.

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Considerations when choosing new RV tires

Size and load index are key, and some manufacturer's range of RV tires can be limited. So first off, you need the details from your tire sidewall (it should also be in your owner's manual). With that, you can compare size and performance characteristics.

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Let's use our favorite as an example:

265/70 R17 115T

265 is the tire width (in millimeters) 70 is the aspect ratio (or profile) R is for radial (B for bias ply) 17 is the wheel size (in inches) 115 is the load index (vital on RVs), in this case, 2,697 pounds T is the speed rating (this one is a maximum of 118 mph)

Size is obviously important -- it either fits or it doesn't. Additionally, it's absolutely vital that you don't go lower than recommended for your RV when it comes to the load index. Doing so would compromise safety.

Tire construction

RV tires are normally rated as either ST or LT. ST tires are a trailer tire -- so they're fine for fifth-wheel RVs, tent trailers, etc., but they don't have the necessary strength for wheels that are on a driven axle, or that are steered. For that, you need LT tires. You can use LT in place of ST, but never the other way around. The other designation you'll see is P -- for passenger vehicles -- and those are standard auto tires not suitable for RVs. They may fit some camper vans, and some people do use them, but they aren't as strong as proper RV tires, so we strongly discourage you from doing so.

ST tires are often bias-ply but can be radial. LT are invariably radial. The main difference is that bia- ply have a stiffer sidewall that reduces ride comfort. That's not a problem on trailers. The flex of a radial not only makes for a better ride for the passengers, it also provides for more progressive braking. Some tires have polyester added to the rubber compound, which manufacturers claim reduces tire wear.

Tread design also has an impact. Blocks are usually small to reduce road noise, with clear grooves around the circumference that help straight line stability and clear water. All-weather tires are popular with those who use their RV year round because of their improved performance in rain or when highways are colder. They have deeper tread, and so also offer better traction on dirt or grass. However, they are softer, which may result in lower mileage. We couldn't find specific snow tires for RVs, snow socks and chains being the main options.

Price

The cheapest RV tires are the ST type, with prices starting at around $90. LT models can be found at a little over $100, though you'll pay anywhere from $140 to $300 for well-known brands.

FAQ

Q. Is there a way to increase the mileage I get from my RV tires?

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A. Yes, there is. The Rubber Manufacturers Association says rotating your tires regularly (approximately every 8,000 miles) can improve mileage by as much as 50%. Making sure the pressures are correct also helps.

Q. Is there an age limit for RV tires?

A. It's recommended they're changed every seven to 10 years even if they still have usable tread. Rubber does degrade over time, and there could be damage you're not aware of, leading to the possibility of a blowout.

RV tires we recommend

Our take: A great all-season radial from a brand that's known for quality tires.

What we like: High-tech construction results in a smooth, quiet ride with excellent tread life. Good traction in dry, wet, and even light snow. Low rolling resistance should help fuel consumption, too.

What we dislike: Nothing, but unfortunately sizes are limited.

Best bang for your buck: Hankook's Vantra RV Tire

Our take: Hard-wearing radial particularly popular with Westy and VW camper owners.

What we like: Reinforced sidewalls and steel belts provide stability and increased mileage. Good ride comfort with low noise. Excellent value for the money.

What we dislike: A few people are critical of wet-weather performance.

Our take: Highway terrain tires reinforced with polyester for extended mileage.

What we like: Versatile tire with good wet-weather traction. Tread designed to reduce road noise. Ribbed shoulders help protect tire from curb damage.

What we dislike: Not much, though some notice a drop in ride quality.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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