Caravan Tyre Safety

Whatever tyres are fitted to the towing car, caravan, trailer tent or motorhome, it is essential to the safety and stability of the combination that all tyres are correctly inflated for the applied load. Tyres that are under-inflated are much more likely to suffer from a sudden rapid deflation which can cause loss of control of the vehicle.

Why are tyres important?

Tyres are the only part of the caravan which are in contact with the road surface. Safety in acceleration, braking, steering and cornering all rely on the tyres’ relatively small contact area with the road surface. In addition, tyres also play a fundamental role in the suspension systems of caravans. With such an important role, it is essential that tyres are properly maintained and regular checks are carried out. With the correct care and attention your tyres will help to ensure you arrive safely at your holiday destination safely, without disruption and with minimal cost. Further advice and information about caravan tyres Download our handy guide to Caravan tyre safety (PDF, 1.7MB)

You can use the TyreSafe caravan tyre pressure calculator for our recommended pressures

Caravan Tyre Safety Guidelines

Everything you need to know to keep your caravan tyres in good condition, when to replace them, and what to do in the event of a defect. For information about caravan tyre pressures head here: https://www.tyresafe.org/caravan-tyre-pressure/

For caravan tyre inspections and checks head to our dedicated page here: https://www.tyresafe.org/caravan-tyre-safety/inspection-and-checks/

How often should I check my caravan tyres?

Check your tyres regularly but particularly when the caravan has not been used for some time. Vehicles such as caravans or trailer tents, which are often not used for long periods, should be thoroughly inspected prior to being put back into use.

Why is caravan tyre safety so important?

It’s simple. Tyres are the only parts of the caravan which are in contact with the road. Which means that safety in acceleration, braking, steering and cornering all depend on a relatively small area of road contact.

Which is why it is so important that caravan tyres should be maintained in good condition at all times and that when the time comes to change them the correct replacements are fitted. This guide, produced by the UK tyre industry, will help you better understand caravan tyres and safety checks and measures.

Safe driving when towing a caravan or trailer tent is very important and one major factor that is frequently overlooked is the tyres. Look after your tyres properly and you will improve the safety and behaviour of your car and caravan or trailer tent.

What tyres should I choose for my caravan?

The original tyres for a caravan are determined by joint consultation between the caravan and tyre manufacturers and take into account all aspects of operation. You should not change the tyre size or type without seeking advice from the caravan or tyre manufacturers, as the effect on caravan handling, safety and clearances must be taken into account.

As with all road vehicles, it is essential that tyres of the correct specification be fitted. It is always advisable to have the same construction of tyres on all wheels. Only tyres of equal size and service description (Load Index/Speed Symbol) and identical wheels should be fitted across an axle and carried as a spare. Tyre pressures across an axle should be equal.

In some other European countries it is illegal to use replacements which differ in certain respects (e.g. size, load, and speed rating) from the tyre fitted originally by the vehicle manufacturer.

What should I be looking for when I inspect my caravan tyres?

It is important to look particularly for any sign of age deterioration in the tyres such as sidewall cracking and carcass deformation. Tyres on a stationary vehicle, particularly if parked in coastal areas, always age more quickly than those in regular and frequent use. If in doubt about the condition of your tyres, have them checked immediately by a tyre specialist.

Should I use a cover on my caravan tyres?

If your caravan/trailer tent is going to stand for any length of time, it is wise to cover the tyres and to shield them from direct sunlight and if possible, to jack the weight off the tyres.

How long should my caravan tyres last?

There is no standard answer to the question of how long your caravan tyres should last, and at what point they should be removed from service.  In the interests of safety, a number of vehicle and tyre manufacturers recommend that tyres (including spare tyres) that were manufactured more than a certain number of years previously be replaced with new tyres, even when they appear to be usable from their external appearance and the tread may not have reached the minimum wear out depth. It is recommended that this instruction is followed. Consumers should not that most tyres would need to be removed from tread wear-out or other causes before any prescribed age is reached. A stated removal period in no way reduces the consumer’s responsibility to replace tyres as needed.

What is the minimum tread depth for caravan tyres?

If your caravan/trailer tent is going to stand for any length of time, it is wise to cover the tyres and to shield them from direct sunlight and if possible, to jack the weight off the tyres.

The minimum tyre tread depth across Europe for caravans/trailer tents is the same as it is for cars and lights vans, i.e. 1.6 mm. However, if you are traveling abroad, some European countries require winter tyres to be fitted at certain times of the year with a minimum tread depth of 3 or 4 mm, so check with the countries you are visiting if this applies to you.

Do I need to change caravan tyres when travelling during the winter months?

If travelling abroad during the winter season, some countries stipulate appropriate winter tyres are fitted to the vehicle. Even if the country being visited does not make such a legal requirement it is always a good practice to fit tyres that are appropriate for the road/weather conditions – consult the tyre manufacturer.

What are the right caravan tyres for load?

Because caravans have become better equipped and hence heavier and also maximum permitted speeds have increased both in the UK and abroad, caravan manufacturers are generally fitting larger capacity tyres. It is essential the combined tyre load capacity is sufficient for the maximum weight (MTPLM) of the caravan, but as an extra safeguard it is strongly recommended the MTPLM does not exceed 90% of the tyre’s load capacity.

Caravans are often fitted with car type tyres, which means it USED to be a practice to allow a bonus load to be applied to the maximum permitted tyre load, but subject to a significant speed reduction. The practice of applying bonus loads is being eliminated as it is often abused.

What is the speed limit for caravans in the UK?

In the UK, the speed limit for cars, car-derived vans and 4×4 vehicles towing caravans/trailer tents is 60 mph (96 km/h) on dual carriageways and motorways, 50 mph (80 km/h) on single carriageways and 30 mph (48 km/h) in built up areas, unless signs show otherwise. Other countries may have different speed limits or regulations and drivers should ensure compliance with these when towing abroad. The speed limit is the absolute maximum – it doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive at this speed in all conditions.

‘The Caravan Towing Guide’ from the National Caravan Council

This guide recommended by the National Caravan Council has been compiled to provide general recommendations about towing. You can contact the National Caravan Council by telephone on 01252 318 251

Should I have a spare tyre/wheel for my caravan?

It is strongly recommended that a compatible spare wheel/ tyre assembly be carried for the caravan. As caravan tyres and wheels are rarely the same as those on the towing vehicle, you must not attempt to use the spare tyre/wheel assembly from the towing vehicle on the caravan if you should have a puncture. Ensure the spare wheel is the correct specification, i.e. strength and dimensions.45

Can I use a puncture sealant on my caravan tyre?

The use of a pre-puncture sealant is not recommended; however it is recognised that a post-puncture sealant may well serve a useful function if used to move a stranded vehicle to a safe location. British Standard (BSAU 159) does not recognise the application of a puncture sealant as a permanent repair method. Any tyre that has sustained a puncture and run even for a limited distance in a deflating or deflated condition, will have suffered internal damage.

How do I know the correct noseweight?

The Caravan Towing Guide recommends that the noseweight should be varied to find the optimum for towing dependent upon the actual laden weight of the caravan/trailer tent. Experience and research has shown that the noseweight should be approximately 7% of the actual laden weight for optimum stability. However, this may be restricted by the towing vehicle manufacturer’s limit and the caravan’s hitch limit. If there is insufficient weight on the hitch the caravan/trailer tent may yaw (snake) leading to possible instability.

What does overloading do to caravan tyres?

It is dangerous to overload tyres at any time. The police may take action against drivers when their caravan is excessively loaded or has a badly distributed load. A poorly distributed load can cause overloading of one or more wheels even when the maximum permissible total load is not exceeded.  It is important to spread the load evenly around the vehicle and as low as possible, thus the stability of the car and caravan combination will not be impaired. Failure to adhere to this rule will invite tyre problems and possible tyre failure. It is advisable to ensure the total caravan operating weight is below the specified maximum limit and a margin of 10% will partly compensate for some unequal load distribution. To ensure a safely loaded vehicle make use of Public Weighbridges.

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