Tire care made easy!

With all the online debate about tires, pressure monitoring systems, and the mystery of how to change a trailer tire, I’m not surprised that most people feel it’s a confusing subject—and avoid it. It’s less intimidating to simply think “I’ll call roadside service when there’s a problem.”

But trust me, speaking as a long-time Airstreamer, you do not want to end up in a situation where you’re waiting for someone else to come cure a tire problem. Usually that means a long wait in a place you don’t want to be, and sometimes there no help to be had at all because you’re out of the service area or there’s no cell signal.

It’s really simple to take good care of your tires and avoid problems on the road. The trick is to build tire maintenance into your routine. Here’s how.

  1. Make sure you have the right tools on hand to do these things:
  • check air pressure
  • change a tire
  • inflate a tire, and
  • identify a problem before it gets serious.

Keep these tools in your Airstream all the time so you never can forget to pack them. Read on, and you’ll see exactly what you need.

  1. Before every trip you take, check the air pressure of all the tires.

You can do this with a simple air gauge (obtainable at any hardware store or general merchandise store like Wal-Mart). If you have the Airstream Life Tire Changing Kit, there’s a good gauge in the bag.

But I prefer to just turn on my TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and let it verify all the pressures for me while I’m doing something else. This is the easiest, most accurate, and most efficient way possible. If any of the tires need air, the TST system will let me know on its digital display. I highly recommend this system, available at the Airstream Life Store.

Most late-model Airstreams come with Goodyear Endurance tires which need 80 psi of air pressure when they are “cold,” which means before you start towing. This is why you want to check the pressures while you’re getting ready to go.

If the temperatures have dropped in your area recently, or you’ve changed altitude during your trip, you may find that the tires need a little more air in the morning to reach 80 psi. That’s why I make the next recommendation…

  1. Have an air compressor in the Airstream at all times.

It’s a real pain to search for a gas station with an air compressor in an unfamiliar town. That’s why I always carry a portable air compressor and an extension cord. I can add a little air to the tires anywhere, anytime—and that’s a huge convenience.

Late model Airstreams have inverters built in, so you can use a 120-volt AC (household power) air compressor. Portable ones are inexpensive (less than $40), light, small, and come with convenient carry bags. Simply turn on the Airstream’s inverter and plug the air compressor into the outside power outlet. I recommend this approach if possible, because it will be much more effective at filling tires than a 12 volt DC (battery powered) air compressor. Look for them at auto parts stores, hardware stores, and general merchandise stores.

  1. While you’re preparing your Airstream for your trip, do a visual inspection of the tires.

You may see a problem that can be fixed before you go. For example, look for objects embedded in the tires (a bit of gravel is normal in the treads, but a screw or nail has to be removed and patched).

You might also notice that the tire tread is getting thin, the sidewalls are cracking, or the tread is worn unevenly. These are all signs that there’s a problem or it’s time to get new tires.

For more information on what to look for, get a copy of “The (Nearly) Complete Guide To Airstream Maintenance.”

  1. During your trip, take a moment to look at the tires again at every rest stop.

You’re checking for the same things as in step #4. It only takes a minute, and making this a habit will pay off some day.

  1. If you have a flat, make sure you have all the tools needed – even if you’re not going to change the tire yourself.

Roadside assistance may not be equipped to change a trailer tire. The Airstream Life Tire Changing Kit includes everything you need:

  • torque wrench (to properly tighten the lug nuts)
  • breaker bar
  • extension
  • sockets
  • safety vest
  • pressure gauge
  • instruction booklet

Keep this bag in your Airstream and you’ll be ready.

The 6-page instruction booklet includes photos and clear directions so you don’t have to remember the procedure if you’re stranded by the side of the road. I also demonstrate the entire Airstream tire changing procedure in this video.

  1. Make tire inspection a systematic part of your pre-departure checklist.

This checklist lists the 6 simple steps I follow before every trip we take. Print it out and keep it handy for your next trip!

Comments

  1. Carolyn S Nelson says

    I have a 2018 TB 27’. My tires say 80psi . Goodyear trailer tires. Everyone I have ask says 60 to 75 psi cold for easier ride..
    I have monitors set at 72. Is this correct. This is nothing I understand just need to know what the base number should be.

    • RichLuhr says

      Reducing the air pressure “for a softer ride” is a common piece of advice, but it’s unnecessary. Your Airstream doesn’t need a softer or “easier” ride. It has rubber cord suspension built into the axles and it’s built to ride comfortably even with max air pressure in the tires. And since you don’t ride in the trailer while it is being towed, you’ll never notice a difference.

      The major outcome of lowering the air pressure is to reduce the carrying capacity of the tires. To explain this, Goodyear publishes a table online at https://www.goodyearrvtires.com/pdfs/rv_inflation.pdf . The table shows the impact of tire pressure on the weight-carrying capacity of the tires.

      In your case, if you want to keep the tire pressure at 72 psi, you can. Your trailer has Goodyear Endurance ST225/75R15 tires. You can see from the table that at 80 psi, each tire can carry 2,830 pounds. That means all four tires can carry 11,320 pounds, which is far more than the 7,600 pound maximum weight of your Tommy Bahama 27FB. Even if you lowered the air pressure to 60 psi, the four tires would be able to carry 9,520 pounds, and you’d still have some margin left.

      In short, you can leave the tire pressure at 72 psi and (according to Goodyear) you’ll have no trouble. However, you might get a little better fuel economy running the tires at higher pressure.

  2. Bradley Schoener says

    Thanks for pulling this together. My wife and I are née airstreamers and your advice is really very helpful to us. We are loyal supporters because it’s clear you think about what people like us really want to know and need to know.

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