Are RV Tires Different from Regular Car Tires?


rv tires different from car lg

If you’ve noticed that your RV tires are looking worn, it’s probably time to replace them. Car tires are cheaper, and sometimes they look like the same size as what is on your RV. But are RV tires different from regular car tires?

Here’s what I know from owning an RV:

RV tires are different from car tires, and it is not advisable to use regular car tires on an RV even if they are the same size. RV tires have a narrower tread width and thicker sidewalls than car tires. The thicker sidewalls help hold the weight of the RV that regular car tires cannot hold.

But there’s much more to know about RV tires.

So in this article, we’ll take a look at the tires on all types of campers and motorhomes and see if maybe there are times where a car tire is appropriate. After all, a Class B or small trailer is way different than a Class A.

Just keep reading to learn more!

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

Can you use car tires on a travel trailer or fifth-wheel?

Car tires cannot be used on any type of RV, including travel trailers or fifth-wheels. RV tires are very different from car tires. They have a different structure to carry the weight of an RV. So even if the tire size is the same, it would be unsafe to use car tires on any RV. However, some RVs can use truck tires.

Car tires and RV tires each have different purposes.

RV tires are designed for towing and have a code of ST stamped on them. They have thick, stiff sidewalls. The tread focuses mostly on the middle of the tire to help with heavy loads. They are not made to handle sharp turns like car tires are.

Car tires will be labeled with a P for passenger or LT for light truck tires. They are designed for either load-bearing capacity, long-distance driving, or a combination of both.

Passenger and light truck tires are designed for acceleration, braking, and turning. They are made from materials that have more give to them so they can respond to the vehicle’s needs.

I can see how it can be tempting to put car tires on your travel trailer or fifth-wheel. They are designed to respond to weather conditions and can get upwards of 80,000 miles with proper maintenance.

What are the most common RV tire sizes?

As a general rule, Class A motorhomes will have tires that range between 30-38” in diameter. Class B and C RVs will use tires that range between 25-30”, Fifth-Wheels and travel trailers have tires between 25-30”.

But also bear in mind that some manufacturers use rim size, whereas others describe the actual diameter of the tire. So make sure you know what you’re looking at.

If you are replacing your existing tires, simply read the numbers off the sidewall of the tire. Most tire sizes will be displayed on the tires in 3 parts.

For example, you may see something like 205/75-R15.

This number will tell you, in order, the section (i.e., tire) width (in millimeters), the sidewall aspect ratio (the height of the tire from top of the wheel rim to top of the tread of the tire), and the overall diameter of the rim. But it does not describe the overall diameter of the tire itself.

You may also see a letter on tires describing what it is for. P means passenger vehicles, T means temporary spare, LT stands for light truck, C means commercial, and ST stands for special trailer service.

RV tires are designed for particular weight ranges. 

Class A motorhomes have the biggest tires for obvious reasons. If you’re unsure about the tire size required for your RV, check the placard or the owners’ manual. If you’re still confused about anything, consult with a professional.

Below is a simple table with the average tire size for each class of RV.

RV Class Weight Supported Motorhome Length Average Tire Size
Class A motorhome 15,000 to 30,000 pounds Up to 40 feet 32 – 38 inches
Class B motorhome 6,000 to 8,000 pounds 17 to 19 feet long 25 – 30 inches
Class C motorhome 10,000 to 12,000 pounds 20 to 30 feet long 25 – 30 inches
Travel trailer/5th-wheel 2,000 – 2,500 pounds N/A 25 – 30 inches

After spending all that money on RV tires, you’ll want to keep them protected from the elements.

RV tire covers protect tires from certain harsh elements, especially the sun, which can cause a lot of damage. To learn more about the benefits of tire covers, check out this recent article. I think you’ll find that tire covers are worth the small investment, as they increase the lifespan of your tires.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do I choose tires for my travel trailer?

Choose tires for a travel trailer based on the length and weight of the camper. Very small and light trailers may be able to use truck tires, whereas longer or heavier trailers will require RV tires. Refer to the numbers on the existing tires for suitable replacements.

You might be able to find light truck tires that will work with your trailer. This can be nice if you want all of your tires to match.

Specialty tires come in many sizes. These will include radial and bias-constructed tires. Radial tires are constructed with belts running at a 90-degree angle of the tread centerline. They tend to last longer than bias-constructed tires.

They are less likely to develop flat spots when parked for long periods. They perform well at highway speeds. They dissipate heat better and offer a smoother ride than bias construction tires.

Bias tires are constructed with belts running at a 30-45 degree angle of the tread centerline. Their sidewalls are generally stiffer than radials. This reduces trailer sway and increases stability when the trailer is loaded.

Whatever you choose, ensure that your tires meet or exceed the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is the trailer’s maximum operating weight, which includes cargo.

The GVWR can be found on the vehicle placard. The placard and the owner’s manual will also tell you which size tire is recommended.

Do Class B RVs use regular tires?

Class B RVs, despite their small size, cannot use regular car tires due to the weight of the RV. And some Class B RVs will also use 2 tires per side in the rear of the RV.

Class B RVs are the smallest.

You may be able to use light truck tires or specialty tires, but you should not use regular passenger tires. Regular passenger tires won’t be able to handle the weight and could possibly blow out.

You need to use a tire that is durable with sidewalls that are strong enough to carry the load of your RV and all of its contents. In fact, light truck radial tires will offer top-tier performance and safety on the highway.

You might be surprised to find out that most motorhomes, including Class A motorhomes, do not come with spare tires.

Spare tires are big, bulky, and take up a ton of space that could otherwise be used for storage. If you take care of your tires, though, you will find that you won’t really need a spare tire.

Just read this recent article to learn more about why Class A motorhomes don’t come with spare tires. Inspect your tires frequently and keep them clean to catch any signs of excessive wear.

Just click the link to read more on my site.

Does Discount Tire do RV tires?

As a general rule, Discount Tire will sell tires for travel trailers and 5th wheel RVs. However, most locations will not mount tires on RVs and do not sell tires large enough for Class A RVs.

Buying RV tires is a little more complicated than purchasing tires for your passenger vehicle.

The type of tire you need will depend on what kind of RVing you do and how much cargo you bring with you. It can also depend on where you go and how often you travel. Discount Tire does sell a wide variety of tires. This includes tires for travel trailers and Class B or C motorhomes.

But you won’t be able to find tires for a Class A motorhome.

Generally, trucks and RVs tend to use the same kind of tires. This means that truck tire shops will have the widest selection of tires that will work with your RV.

It may also be worth checking out large retailers like Walmart or Sears. Costco and Sam’s Club also sell RV Tires. You could check Camping World, too. But not all locations sell RV tires.

You can order them online, too. But then you’ll have to figure out how to get them installed on your RV.

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about how RV tires are different from car tires?

Tires are essential, even if they aren’t the most exciting part of RVing.

When looking for RV tires, make sure they are the right size to carry the load of your vehicle. Even though they are the smallest tire, you still need to use RV tires on your Class B motorhome.

Light truck tires can work in some instances, but never use regular car tires on your RV.

Good Sam Roadside Assistance


Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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