Tired Tires

Dear Tracy,
Our family has inherited an RV/Camper that is older, but in excellent condition. It had belonged to  my aunt and uncle who have not been able to use it much over the past several years due to health issues. They very generously decided to give it to our family so we could enjoy it. My uncle suggested that we have the tires replaced since they have not been used often, but we think the tread on them looks fine. As long as the tread is not worn, the tires should be safe, right?
Lisa K.

Dear Lisa,
Congratulations on your RV! You are going to have great times RV camping with your family.

Regarding those old tires, we’re inclined to agree with your uncle – they could be an issue.  Even though the tire tread looks fine, tires are subject to the affects of “tire aging” and can become unsafe. Tire aging specifically refers to the deterioration of a tire’s structural integrity. On a typical vehicle that is driven regularly, tire aging is not an issue because the tread wears out before degradation from aging can occur. Vehicles that are driven only occasionally, such as collector cars or those used for recreation, are especially susceptible to tire aging problems. While un-mounted tires that are properly stored should not age as quickly as mounted tires, spare tires can also become too old to safely use before they actually wear out.

In deciding whether or not to replace your RV tires consider a few things. How old are the tires? Has the RV been stored in a garage or out on a driveway? Having an overall inspection of the RV performed by your auto shop is a good idea – you can get professional opinion on the tires then. Lastly, according to general advice given on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, www.safercar.gov,  ” it is always wise to err on the side of caution if you suspect your vehicle has tires that are over six years of age.”