Inspection and Checks
Correct pressure is essential for the safety and longevity of tyres. In addition, when tyres are properly inflated their efficiency is maximised helping to minimise fuel bills and CO2 emissions.
Tips for checking your tyre pressures correctly:
- Check your tyre pressure at least once a month or before a long journey.
- Tyre pressure should be checked against the vehicle and caravan manufacturers’ recommended levels. These can be found in the vehicle handbooks and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler flap of the car or on the driver’s door sill.
- Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have traveled less than two miles).
- If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, tyre pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Details can be found in the handbook.
- Ensure a reliable and accurate pressure gauge is used.
- Check the pressure in all tyres not forgetting to check any spare tyres as well.
- While checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts.
If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your vehicle to an approved fitting centre and speak to a qualified professional. For TyreSafe’s recommended setting, you can use the caravan tyre pressure calculator
Ageing / cracking
Tyre condition should be checked regularly to look for signs of ageing. This can be seen by the presence of superficial cracks to the rubber of the sidewall. This is typically caused as the tyre is too old or has suffered from over-exposure to UV light.
If cracking is present seek immediate advice and further inspection from a qualified professional.
Wear and damage
Tyres can suffer from damage and premature wear for a variety of reasons. Below are some of the most common types found on caravan tyres.
In this condition, the tyre will be showing more signs of wear on the shoulders compared with the centre of the tread. This is likely to have been caused by either under-inflation or overloading and can significantly increase the chances of suffering a sudden rapid deflation. When under-inflated, excessive heat builds up within the tyre, especially on long or high-speed journeys, causing the tyre to fail. You should try to find the cause of under-inflation and resolve it. Start by checking the pressure, then look for any punctures, faulty valve caps or faulty valve stems.
Tyres suffering from this condition will show wear that is more pronounced in the centre of the tread compared with the shoulders and is likely to be caused by over-inflation. The tyre pressures should be checked when the tyres are cold and adjusted to the correct levels using an accurate gauge.
Brake flatting can be caused by either excessive braking or defects to the braking system. The signs are very localised wear, in which the size and shape resemble that of the contact patch with the road surface. There may also be scratches and cuts to the rubber which run in a circumferential direction. Often the other tyre on the same axle will show the same signs of damage. If the wear is severe, the tyre may need to be replaced. Owners should check the braking system if the damage has not been caused by excessive braking.
Impact / pinching
In this condition, the tyre may not show any signs of impact damage on the sidewall such as cuts or grazes, but will have a localised bulge or blister on the sidewall. This is usually a serious deformity which occurs because of an accidental rupture to one or more cords in the casing ply. This may have been caused by a severe impact with an obstacle such as a kerb, pot hole or stone, or through the sidewall being pinched between the rim and an obstacle. This type of damage is most likely to occur when the tyre is under-inflated or the caravan is overloaded.
The cords of the tyre may become exposed through cuts or other damage. If the cords can be seen then the tyre is both unsafe and illegal and must be changed immediately. When checking the sidewalls to inspect for damage, owners should remember to make all efforts to inspect the inner sidewall of the tyre as well as this may also be suffering damage.
When checking or changing wheels, wheel nuts or bolts should be tightened with a torque wrench. If under tightened, a wheel fixing may shake loose. If it is over tightened it can deform the seating on the wheel itself and, again, it can shake loose. A torque wrench ensures the correct load is applied. Torque settings for wheel nuts can be found in your owner’s manual. When replacing a wheel, torque the wheel nuts up in the correct sequence and then re-torque again after the recommended bedding in distance, typically 30 miles.
Download our handy guide to Caravan tyre safety