Are Your Boat and Travel Trailer Tires Safe?
Tires are designed and manufactured differently depending on their intended use. The tires on your car or truck are very different from those on a travel trailer. Passenger vehicles need tires that can corner safely, for example, which is achieved largely by the design of flexible sidewall tires. Passenger vehicle tires must also handle braking and acceleration better than trailer tires.
Towing Vehicle Tires vs. Travel Trailer Tires
Flexible sidewalls allow a tire to expand and contract so that if you take a sharp right turn, the tires on the right side of your vehicle will "lean" into the turn. Passenger tires also have limited shock-absorbing capabilities for a more comfortable ride.
Travel trailer tires are only designed to follow the towing vehicle. Sidewall flexing would cause the trailer to sway back and forth. As the sidewalls flex with the contours of the road it results in the trailer leaning to the left or right. Hence the sway. Which is not only disconcerting but can be dangerous.
Wind also impacts the amount of trailer sway. The flat sides of a travel trailer, even folding models, are vulnerable to high winds. It is considered hazardous to pull a trailer in sustained winds of over 35mph. Even in lesser winds, be aware of gusts. Keep both hands on the wheel and check your trailer in the mirrors often.
Trailer Tire Selection and Maintenance
Use tires rated to easily carry the weight of your travel trailer. The manufacturer will have a recommendation for tires and their proper inflation. Do not try to cut it too close. Account for the extra weight of luggage and gear inside the camper.
It is better to buy tires that exceed your trailer's weight rating than to risk rubber and wheel components wearing faster. Pushing tires to the full extent of their weight limits will decrease efficiency and cause handling on the road to be more difficult.
Most travel trailer tires have the designation ST stamped on the sidewall. Some models may just say "for trailer use only". You will find important information stamped on the sidewall of tires. Such as weight limits, type, dimensions, and inflation recommendations.
Tires on your trailer should be of the same size and type. Do not mix tires of different dimensions, or radials with bias-ply. Bias-ply tires are sometimes called polyester. So, which type of tire is best for your travel trailer, radial or bias-ply?
Stick with the manufactures' recommendation. Bias-ply sidewalls are stiffer and less expensive than radials and are fine if you don't take a lot of long trips. Radials are better for long drives because they do not get as hot. Heat causes tires to wear quicker and increases the risk of blowouts. Radials are also superior in load capacity and make less of a humming noise going down the road.