How to use, and maintain, your caravan and trailer tyres
Choosing the right tyres for your trailer or caravan takes careful consideration, and the way in which you maintain and care for them also matters a great deal.
It is not uncommon for people to assume that the tyres on their trailer or caravan operate the same way as their regular vehicle. However, this is not the case - when it comes to trailer or caravan tyres you need to ensure that they have the correct load index to carry the load that you intend. Failure to do so can compromise both the performance and safety of your tyres.
When towing a trailer or caravan, the tow vehicle is referred to as the ‘leader’. The tyres required on the tow vehicle are designed with traction in mind. This allows the tow vehicle to accelerate down the road, turn the corner and brake to a stop. Tow vehicle tyres are typically designed for comfort, and this is partially achieved through sidewalls that offer some flex.
The trailer, or caravan, is referred to as the ‘follower’. These tyres do not steer, transmit power from an engine to the road, or swerve to avoid obstacles. They sit underneath stiff suspension and are intended to support both the trailer or caravan itself and its laden weight.
The type of construction you choose for your trailer or caravan tyres will depend on your intended use. We suggest that you opt for tyres designed with a stiffer sidewall and higher operating pressures, which aim to reduce safety issues, such as trailer sway.
The load rating of the tyres must suit the size and weight of your trailer or caravan. In some instances Light Truck, or even Commercial Light Truck tyres may be the best option to ensure that your trailer or caravan is best equipped to handle both the weight of the vehicle and the load it will be carrying.
Overloading your trailer or caravan tyres can lead to a blow out. The maximum load is listed on the sidewall of the tyre. It is important to know your trailer or caravan’s laden weight. The best and simplest way to do this is through a trip to a weigh bridge.
Overloading, or uneven loading, is particularly common with caravans - not only does it increase your chances of a tyre blowout, you also risk vehicle instability, increased fuel consumption and unnecessary strain on your tow vehicle.
It is strongly recommended that you work with your local tyre shop to identify and fit the most appropriate tyres for your trailer or caravan. Once you have a good idea of what the weight is, or will be, drop by your local BestDrive and the staff there will help you to source and fit the best tyre for the job.
Under-inflation is a major cause of problems with trailer and caravan tyres. Due to their stiffer sidewalls, an under-inflated trailer or caravan tyre is unlikely to show visible signs of sagging. Before each use, it is advisable to use a quality tyre pressure gauge to ensure that the correct pressure is maintained. Always adhere to the maximum PSI recommended on the sidewall of the tyre for cool running, load-carrying ability and the lowest rolling resistance. Remember, you are not aiming for comfort on the road, as there will not be anyone in the vehicle. Using the maximum PSI recommended will make the trailer or caravan easier to tow and more fuel efficient.
The way that you store your caravan or trailer can have an impact on tyre life. Storing your trailer or caravan somewhere dry and cool can prolong the life of your tyres. Direct exposure to the elements increases oxidation - a process which damages the rubber due to exposure to UV radiation, ozone and pressurised oxidation. If storing your trailer or caravan away from the natural elements, such as in a garage or shed, is not an option then covering the tyres when not in use will also be of some benefit.
Where applicable, rotating tyres will even out tyre wear and prolong their life.
In most instances, the use of a trailer or caravan is fairly infrequent. Regardless of how much they are used, all tyres have a limited shelf life. Tyres degrade over time, becoming hard and unyielding as a result of a loss of natural oils. It is recommended that you replace your trailer or caravan tyres every 3 to 5 years.
Selecting the right tyres for your trailer or caravan can be a complex issue. The experts at your local BestDrive store are here to assist you. Let us advise you on the correct size, load capacity and design of tyre that will best suit your intended use and towing vehicle’s needs.
BestDrive. You drive, we care.