Essential considerations for caravan tyres

Essential considerations for caravan tyres

16 May

By Tom Boote

With thousands of touring caravans used across the beautiful British countryside (and beyond), the Protyre team have a lot of experience providing tyre safety advice to many of the nation’s many caravanners, whether they be regular weekenders, or once a year holiday makers. There’s a big difference between the way tyres behave and perform on cars and caravans, so if you’re part of this fast growing community, read on.

For starters, caravan tyres are just like those used with your car or van, but the weight distribution they experience is completely different. Many caravans run on just two wheels, so straight away that’s more pressure and stress on each tyre than for your typical four wheeled vehicle, right?

And even four wheeled caravan tyres – which are typically positioned very close together – perform differently, with their weight and pressure being forced down into a smaller area, compared to the more even spread of tyres on a car or van.

All this concentrated weight puts extra stress on the tyre sidewalls, and is arguably the most important consideration for caravan tyre safety – more so even than tyre tread, since typically a caravan is on the road for a much shorter time each year. As a result, its tyres can be expected to wear down much slower than a everyday use car or van. 
 

Correct tyre inflation and pressures are essential

Sidewall stress often results from tyre wear on the tyre shoulders, known as rounded wear. It’s essential that caravan owners help to minimise tyre shoulder wear and sidewall stress by ensuring that their caravan tyre pressures are correct and regularly checked. The best way to do this is to consult your owner manual or caravan manufacturer.

The tyre pressures are determined by a combination of the caravan’s MTPLM (Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass) which is typically found on the caravan rating plate, the size of the tyres (typically 13” on older caravans, and 14” for modern models), and finally the amount of tyres (typically two or four). As an extra precaution make sure the MTPLM doesn’t exceed 90% of the tyre’s load capacity.



Leading UK tyre safety organisation, TyreSafe, (of which Protyre are a member) offer caravan owners the chance to use their caravan tyre pressure calculator. It’s useful, but only meant as a guide for tyre inflation pressure. As a leading member of TyreSafe, premium tyre manufacture, Continental Tyres, advise “If you’re still in any doubt about caravan tyres you should contact the vehicle manufacturer, who should be able to fully guide you in the correct fitment”. Continental is at the forefront of raising awareness about road safety – part of its Vision Zero initiative.
Caravan Tyre Top Tips
  • Always check your caravan and car tyres regularly
  • Always check your caravan and car tyres for damage before setting off on your journey
  • Always travel with a spare tyre
  • Always ensure your caravan and car tyres are regularly replaced
  • If in doubt, always seek professional help
 
Continental also believe that it’s good practice to check both your caravan and car tyre pressures regularly, especially before each major journey, and also when not in use – at least once a month. Irregular usage can result in flatspotting, caused by the caravan’s weight being placed on a single spot of the tyres for long periods, and also effect tyre pressures.

To avoid this occurance it makes sense to turn the tyres on a regular basis. But even with this level of care and attention, tyre damage is still more likely with caravan tyres than car tyres. Bumps and scrapes that are manageable for car tyres are often amplified for caravan tyres, simply because most caravans have very basic suspension, compared to cars. Caravans have relatively little inherent shock absorbing characteristics, and as a result their tyres end up enduring a considerable amount of shock aborbing. This makes correct tyre pressures and optimal inflation before each journey vital for caravans.

Under-inflated caravan tyres result in excessive loads being placed on the outer edges of the tyre, leading to the tyre shoulders wearing out more rapidly and endangering the tyre sidewall. Under-inflated caravan tyres also result in poorer, sluggish handling.

Over-inflated caravan tyres will result in higher tyre wear across the central plain of the tyre, reducing tyre tread and grip. Over-inflated tyres also mean that your caravan’s suspension will feel a lot stiffer, especially when catching bumps in the road of curbs as you corner.

With these considerations in mind, it’s essential that you travel with a spare tyre specifically set aside for your caravan. As with the spare for your car, ensure that your replacement caravan tyre matches those currently in use. Remember, it’s illegal to mix cross-ply and radial tyres together on the same axle, so ensure that they’re all the same tyre construction.

You should also consider self-sealing tyres, such as Continental’s ContiSeal™, which self-seals punctures up to 5 mm in diameter (such as from nail damage) immediately from inside the tyre, thanks to its proprietry technology. The beauty of ContiSeal™ is that it provides caravan owners with continued mobility and unaltered mileage, with no need for an immediate stop, or roadside tyre change.

No matter whether through tyre damage necessity or the passage of time, caravan owners should ensure that their tyres are regularly replaced. The Caravan and Motorhome Club – Europe’s biggest touring community – advises that caravan tyres should ideally be replaced when 5 years old, and no later than seven years, though this is dependant on the amount of usage the caravan gets.
 

So which tyres are best for my caravan?

There are many tyres on the market, and the adage “you get what you pay for” is particularly pertinent to tyre purchases. Premium vs Budget Tyres advice is a topic previously covered by Protyre, and our position on the subject is clear: premium tyres are safer, and they save you money in the long run too.



Tyre manufacturers like Continental offer a good range of 13” and 14” premium tyres, ideal for caravans, including the ContiEcoContact™ 5 which not only offers safe, fuel efficient driving, but also provides run-flat and ContiSeal™ technology as standard. The tyre’s optimised rolling resistance results in reduced fuel consumption – always a plus for caravan owners - without compromising on high braking safety and short braking distances on wet roads.
 

Professional tyre advice

If you’re not sure about your caravan tyres, Continental’s advice is “don’t leave it to chance, seek professional advice”. You can visit to your local Protyre garage where our highly trained tyre professionals can run a comprehensive tyre safety check, and provide you with impartial tyre advise before you set off on your caravan holiday.

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