One of the easiest preventative safety measures you can take with your travel trailer is to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Whether your hauling a large load of furniture across town or are towing a fifth wheel behind you for a cross-country trip, you'll want to know how to keep all of your tires inflated to the manufacturer's specifications. In this post, we discuss how to inflate trailer tires and how to keep them inflated.
Correctly inflating your trailer tires is a multi-step process. This post will walk you through the following steps, one by one. Below are the steps in the proper order:
- Park on a level surface
- Gather needed equipment
- Check PSI
- Check PSI
Now that we've identified the steps, we'll break them down in an easy to follow format. We've researched many professional sites dedicated to trailer tires specifically and present our findings to you in this post. You might also be wondering if it's ok to foam fill your trailer tires or if you should increase your tire pressure when towing a trailer. For answers to these and more questions, read ahead.
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Inflating your trailer tires step-by-step
Park on a level surface
Before you inflate your tires, you'll need to see what their current pressure is holding at. To do this accurately, you'll want your tires to be cool. In other words, let your tires sit in one level spot for four hours or so before you check their pressure.
Gather needed equipment
Fortunately, you'll not need much in the way of tools for this task. You'll only require a handy tire guage. While you can always go to a gas station or car wash and use their tire gauges, we recommend that you always use your own. The ones provided by service stations are notoriously inaccurate, and you'll want the right readings on your tires to ensure safety.
There are also easier to read, digital models of tire pressure gauges available.
Locate the tire valves. Loosen and remove the caps. Be sure to place these caps in a safe spot so that you don't lose them. Firmly place the rounded end of your tire gauge around the air valve on the tire, recording the tire's pressure. The tire's PSI (pounds per square inch) will be the number shown on the tire pressure gauge. Check each tire three times to ensure that you're getting an accurate reading.
Now that you know the current PSI of each tire, you'll need to inflate them. Using the hose from an air compressor, inflate each tire to it's recommended PSI. The recommended maximum number for the PSI is on the sidewall of each tire.
Never exceed the maximum number. While being over does less damage than being underinflated, it can damage the tire. And it will also make for a more bumpy ride. For the exact number of PSI, you should inflate your tires, consult your owner's manual.
If you are in the market for a compressor, there are many on the market to choose from. Some are made specifically for vehicles and have digital tire gauges.
Check PSI Again
Inflate each tire, checking the psi with the gauge until you've inflated the tire to the recommended psi. If you overinflate, let a little bit of air out from the air valve, using either the air compressor hose or the tire gauge.
Now that we know the details of each step in the sequence, we'll look at answering some other questions you might have about trailer tires.
What is the correct tire pressure for a trailer?
The level of PSI for your trailer tires will vary on model and tire size. The range of PSI varies from 35PSI to 85 PSI. For you to know the exact level for your specific brand and size of tire, you'll need to look at the tire itself. On the sidewall of each tire, there will be a series of numbers. One set will indicate the tire's size. This number is crucial to know when you need to replace a tire.
The second number is the amount of tire pressure your tires should be inflated to. It will be a number followed by the letters PSI (pounds per square inch). Keep in mind that this number is the MAXIMUM your tires should be inflated to. Being a bit under is ok. As we pointed out earlier in this post, consult the owner's manual for their recommended PSI.
The proper level of tire pressure can also be found in the owners manual. You can also find the PSI on the fuel door in the glove box on a car or truck and the sticker located inside the interior door trim.
Can you foam fill trailer tires?
While it's possible to fill trailer tires with foam, it is not a recommended practice. The foam will make the tires less flexible and cause unwanted rigidity. This will make the ride seem a lot bumpier.
The extra bumps will transfer to the vehicle that is towing the trailer, also. Rides that are too bumpy put a lot of wear on brakes and shocks, which can cause some extra expenses down the road.
For these reasons, it's best to forgo the foam and stay with the standard practice of inflating your trailer tires with good old fashioned air.
Should I increase tire pressure when towing a trailer?
While unnecessary, some campers insist that tire pressures should be inflated when you're towing a trailer behind you. This is safe so long as the maximum PSI set by the tire manufacturer is not exceeded.
If you choose to do this, it's important to deflate the tires back to the recommended PSI outlined in your owner's manual after you've detached your trailer.
In this post, we've learned step by step how to check and inflate your travel trailer tires. Accurately accomplishing those steps begins with possessing the right tools for the job, which are readily available at your local automotive store or on Amazon.
We also learned that even though some tires can be inflated and filled with foam, it's not recommended to do so with travel trailer tires. Filling them with foam makes the ride bumpy and could cause unnecessary wear to the towing vehicle.
Keeping your tires at the recommended PSI when towing is fine, although some travelers will inflate their tires when they have a trailer or camper behind them. This is ok, so long as you don't exceed the tire manufacturer's factory recommended maximum PSI.
If you found this post to be helpful, we've provided links to others about trailers that are informative below: