The tyres on your caravan might be easily taken for granted or their condition overlooked.
That is a serious and potentially very dangerous oversight, given the critical role played by the tyres. They are, after all, the only contact between the road and the caravan you are towing – at potentially relatively high speeds. A blowout or some other failure may have very dire consequences.
Caravan tyres – a special case
The National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) explains how the tyres on your caravan are likely to be in a special case and need to be viewed somewhat differently to those on the car you use practically every day.
The tyres on your car are likely to wear out simply because of the use they get; with the tyres on your caravan, the problem is likely to be quite the opposite.
Because your caravan may be laid up and not in use – maybe for several months at a time, during the winter – you might think that the tyres suffer no wear, tear or damage. In fact, the weight of the trailer still bears down on those tyres and, if your caravan is stored in the open air – as most are – the atmosphere itself may open up cracks or result in the rubber “crazing”. The ultraviolet rays of the sun then accelerate this process.
Compared to those on your car, therefore, the tyres on your caravan may be ageing and deteriorating at a faster rate, even though the caravan is mainly stationary.
Care for your tyres
The Caravan Club echoes the advice given by the NTDA, pointing out that the average mileage covered by a caravan is only around 2,000 miles a year – seeming to give many years of use in terms of the rubber actually wearing down.
In addition to the natural ageing processes during storage and exposure to daylight, the tyres on a caravan tend to be subject to small but quite repetitive impacts during normal use – there are usually only two wheels supporting the whole weight of your caravan, which is typically about a quarter of the weight of your four-wheeled car.
The overriding lesson, from both tyre distributors and the Caravan Club is that, whatever their visual appearance and however intact your older tyres may be, they need to be changed once they are five years old and should never be used if they have reached seven years or more – remembering that any tyre starts to age the moment it is manufactured and not the year it is fitted to your caravan.
Tyre pressures need to be checked regularly, of course. Some caravan tyres are inflated to higher than usual pressures (50 psi) and these need to be given especially careful checks for evidence of deterioration once they are three years old – and typically replaced once they are no older than 5 years.