A caravan, like any other vehicle, must be equipped with quality tyres. This is important so the driver has good road-to-wheel contact. The quality of the tyres also affects handling. You must be extremely careful about your choice of caravan tyres since your safety and your vehicle behaviour depends on it. Tyreleader.ie has created this guide to give you practical tips about selecting your caravan tyres and increasing their lifespan.
How to identify a caravan tyre
With their imposing size, caravans are designed to withstand higher loads than small cars. Their tyres are exposed to high pressures and are therefore different from standard tyres. Caravan tyres can be easily recognised by the “C” marking on their sidewall. This certifies that they are suitable for supporting very heavy loads on long journeys. Tyres with this type of marking are used on caravans, motorhomes and commercial vehicles.
You can also fit motorhome wheels on a caravan. Motorhome tyres are made to fit motorhomes so they can support much heavier loads. They are the best solution if you want to an exceptionally big safety margin.
When should you replace your caravan tyres?
Most specialists agree that the lifespan of caravan tyres is around 6 years. Therefore they advise you to change them within this period. However, you may need to replace a tyre when it is worn out. This can happen any time. What you use the vehicle for and the way it is maintained are also determining factors in a tyre's lifespan. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide whether to replace your tyres or not.
The age of the wheels is an important indicator. Age here does not refer to the duration of use, it needs to be worked out from the date of manufacture. This information is marked on the tyres' sidewall. The last four digits of the DOT code give you the manufacture date.
Whether a vehicle is used frequently or not, its tyres deteriorate with age. After a certain stage, the rubber loses its effectiveness, so it is important to check your tyres regularly.
Here is a foolproof indicator to help you make the right decision. Apart from the duration of use, several other factors can cause caravan tyre deterioration:
- The loads supported;
- The state of the roads;
You should also factor in how long the tyre has been stationary. When your vehicle is stationary for long periods, there is increased wear on the tread that is in contact with the ground. This leads to disproportionate deterioration in the tyres. This is one of the reasons that may mean they need replacing.
The average tread depth of tyres currently available from most manufacturers is 8 mm. As soon as it reaches 3 mm, it is advisable to change your tyres. Don't wait for the 1.6 mm limit required by law. Why? Rubber that is only 1.6mm thick has already lost its braking performance. The longer you delay replacing it, the greater the risk of an accident.
Do not ignore the other signs of old age such as splits, cuts, cracks, etc.
Loss of pressure
If you are used to driving caravans then you know that their tyres usually lose between 1 and 2 PSI per month; this is normal. However, if that number reaches 50 PSI or more, that's a bad sign. Caravan tyres that are losing an unusual amount of pressure can make driving difficult. So make sure you make the necessary checks regularly and especially before each trip. If you're losing pressure too often and too much, then it is definitely time to think about changing your tyres.
How to choose the right caravan tyre
The most important criteria to consider when buying a caravan tyre are:
- The dimensions;
- The load index;
- The speed index;
- The choice of brand.
Dimensions vary depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, you should choose tyres that have the same dimensions as the originals. This applies not only to the dimensions, but also to the load and speed index. Driving on tyres with the wrong load index is very dangerous. Your tyres may burst if the weight of the vehicle exceeds what they can support.
Where do you find all this information?
Don't know how to read these different values on a tyre? Inspect the sidewall and you will notice a code like this: 205/55RC16 91V.
The number 205 represents the width (and therefore the size) in millimetres. 91 indicates the load index and means that the tyre cannot support a weight exceeding 615 kg at maximum speed. The speed index is indicated by a letter (here V). If you search for these criteria, you'll find the right tyre to suit your vehicle.
Note that these are standard markings for tyres that are fitted one by one. On certain caravans, you have to fit the wheels in pairs (twin wheel mounting). In such cases, the caravan wheels will have double indices. Here's an example: 195/50R15 104/102R. This means that for a single fitting, the tolerated load is 850 kg (index 102). While for twin mounted wheels, it is 900 (104) kg.
The most important thing to remember is that the chosen speed and load index must comply with the regulations and fit the manufacturer's instructions.
Which caravan tyre to choose based on season
The choice of your tyres also depends on when you plan to go on a trip. If, for example, you want to go to the mountains or travel in the winter, you must opt for special tyres. Fit your wheels with tyres with the M+S (Mud and Snow) marking and the 3PMSF (Three Peak Mountain Snowflake) certification. It isn't compulsory to use these in France, unlike other countries (Germany for example), but it is strongly recommended. They are designed to give you better grip on the ground during the cold season. This means driving is a lot smoother and it also reduces the risk of skidding.
How to increase the lifespan of caravan wheels
You should always know which criteria are critical in your choice of caravan tyres. But it's even better to know how to use them to ensure they last a long time. Here are some tips that will help you.
Never drive on wheels with the wrong pressure. You can inflate them with nitrogen to reduce losses of pressure. It is very important that you comply with the recommended ideal pressure values for caravan tyres: between 3 and 4.5 bars. An increase of 0.3 bar is recommended for compensating for a quick loss in pressure if you plan to travel far.
If you want to leave the vehicle stationary for a long period, use jacks to lift it up to protect the treads (you can also use other special metal supports). Once a month, turn the wheels by a quarter turn to stop them warping.
Our selection of caravan tyres
Tyreleader.ie provides you with a selection of high-performance products so you can choose just the right tyre. You will find the following tyres in our catalogue:
- Agilis + from Michelin;
- Vantra LT RA18 from Hankook;
- Bridgestone Duravis R660;
- Goodyear EfficientGrip Cargo
Nokian Cline Van, Achilles Multivan, General Tyre Eurovan A/S 365, Michelin Agilis Crossclimate and Apollo Altrust All Season are also among the high-performance caravan tyre models that we stock.
The Hankook Vantra LT RA18 is one of the most requested by our customers. These tyres give you particularly good stability and optimum safety while supporting heavy loads. Michelin's Agilis + is also very efficient even on wet tarmac.
What should you always remember?
Caravan tyres can be recognised by the "C" or "CP" marking on their sidewall. Pressure and wear should be checked regularly.