RV spare tires are one of the most essential accessories for your RV or camper. Have you ever seen that sad RV sitting on the side of the road, on a jack, and no people? The likely reason for this scene is that the RV didn’t have a spare tire.
RV spare tires are considered a necessity for the RV owner to acquire. If you are new to RVing or shopping for a new rig, RV spare tires are an essential add-on.
Many RV owners are surprised to learn that they do not have a spare. Finding this out on the side of the highway is not the situation you want to find yourself in. In this article, we will dive into all the things you need to know about RV spare tires.
Do All RVs Have Spare Tires?
One of the most surprising things for new RV owners to learn is that a brand-new shiny RV may not include a spare tire. Most RVs and campers in fact do not come standard with spare tires.
When you are shopping for an RV it is important to check with the dealer to see if the model you are interested in has a spare. If not you will need to have one added as an optional feature.
If you are buying a used RV, you will also need to confirm whether your potential purchase has a spare tire. You likely won’t be able to make the seller add a spare tire if it is a private sale. However, it’s an extra cost for you to consider after the sale.
If you are purchasing a used rig from a dealer, make sure they add a compatible spare tire before you drive off the lot.
Where Is The Spare Tire On Your RV?
The location of the RV spare tires on RV’s really depends on the model. Like most passenger vehicles and trucks, you will find RV spare tires in two fairly common locations.
The rear bumper is the most common spot. This allows for easy access to the tire. The other spot is underneath the RV on the chassis. While not as easy to access, it does hide the tire away and make the rear bumper more useful for things like bike racks.
Many people move chassis-mounted spare tires to the bumper or even to the side of their RV or camper. This allows you to get to your spare tire without having to lie on the ground. For boondocking and those traveling roads that are not well-maintained, moving the spare to the bumper is also preferred.
Some travel trailers may also have a spare tire mounted on the front near the hitch. This is another convenient location for access, however, it does clutter this area. Your batteries, propane, and hitch jack are all located here and also need to be easily accessed.
Can You Add A Spare Tire Mount To Your RV?
In our opinion, if your RV does not come with a spare tire, you absolutely need to mount one. A spare tire is a critical piece that you should never hit the road without.
Most RV owners add their spare tire to the back bumper, using a bumper mount. Bumper mounts are cheap and easy to install along with being universal for the most part. We recommend buying a spare tire mount with a lock to ensure your tire stays safe.
As mentioned previously, one of the problems with bumper mounts is that if you have a bike rack or a rack for other “toys”, the tire gets in the way.
To work around this problem, you have two options. First, if you have a pull-behind camper or fifth wheel, you can put the spare in the bed of your pickup, or the cargo area of your SUV.
The second option is to mount it on the side of your RV or camper. If this is your preferred option, look to companies that make gear for overlanding or boondocking. They have great options for side-mounted spare tires.
In the case of larger RVs, this option may not be an option. A spare tire extending out from the side of a full-size RV may make your vehicle too wide for public roads. Take this into consideration if this is your plan.
Are All RV Spare Tires The Same Size?
No, all RV spare tires are not the same size. When you are shopping for a spare tire for your RV you need to make sure that you select a tire that is the same as the rest of the tires on your RV.
Unlike motorhomes, all the tires on towable RVs will be the same size. They will vary greatly. however, from one RV to another. The required tire size for your RV will be stated on the exterior of your RV. These labels are usually on the side towards the front.
If you are not sure how to determine the proper size for your RV tires, consult with a tire dealer or your local RV dealer. Tire manufacturers also have useful online tire fitment guides to assist in finding the proper tires for your RV.
Can You Tow An RV With A Spare Tire?
If you have done your research and have purchased a spare tire that is the same as the rest of the tires on your RV, towing is not a problem. Your RV will be stable and you can head back on the road without worry. You can also wait until it is convenient to have the flat tire repaired.
If your RV spare tire is the same size and rating but is not an identical match to the rest of the tires, use caution. In this instance, the spare tire should only be used until you get a replacement of the same model.
Driving for extended distances on a spare that is not an exact match can cause problems for your suspension and brakes and may result in uneven tire wear. Although not as critical as matching tires on a car or truck, it’s still a good idea to have all tires matching.
Never tow your RV with a spare tire that is a completely different size or rating. This can create a hazardous condition for you and your RV. Manufacturers set the size and ratings based on your specific RV.
Remember to inflate your spare tire when you inflate your other tires. There is nothing worse than discovering your spare tire is low or flat when you need it in an emergency.
Can You Use Your Vehicle Spare Tire On Your RV?
RV wheels and tires are pretty different from your passenger vehicle. And for a good reason; passenger tires are not made to the same specifications as RV tires and are not intended to be used on RVs.
With that said, some truck tires are very similar in size and rating to those used on RVs. So, if you are in a tough spot and need to use your truck tire for your RV, it may be OK.
You will need to make sure that the tire size and rating are very close, however. Otherwise, you are creating dangerous driving conditions.
RV wheels tend to have different bolt patterns than passenger vehicles and pickups, so even if you are in a desperate moment, your truck spare may not work. Do not rely on your truck tire as a spare. Make sure that your RV has its own spare tire.
Can I Tow My RV With A Dummy Spare On My Tow Vehicle?
An RV should never be towed using a dummy spare on your tow vehicle. This is highly dangerous and can cause substantial damage to your tow vehicle and your RV.
A dummy spare is a smaller-sized tire that is intended for emergency use. They are also commonly referred to as “doughnuts.” These smaller tires are frequently used for passenger vehicles that do not have a lot of extra space for a full-size spare tire.
The dummy spare tires used in smaller cars are designed to handle the weight of the car, for a short period of time. And most of the time, the dummy spare is specific for the car or SUV.
If your tow vehicle gets a flat while towing, and you only have a dummy spare you’re going to have to unhook and go for a full-size replacement. Your other option in this situation is to call for roadside assistance to bring and replace the full-size tire.
You may have to leave your RV parked on the side of the road while you travel to the nearest town or service station to have the flat fixed. Never, ever use a dummy spare on your RV or tow vehicle while towing.
4 FAQs On RV Spare Tires
As we round out our discussion about RV spare tires, we will provide some answers to some questions that RV owners often ask about spare tires.
1. Do all RVs come with spare tires?
No. Not all RVs come with spare tires. Most new RVs do not come with a spare tire as a standard feature. Used RVs should have spare tires added by the owner, however, it’s not a guarantee.
Spare tires are really important accessories for any RV. If you find that your new or used RV does not have a spare tire, your first accessory purchase should be a spare tire.
2. Is It easy to add an RV spare tire?
Spare tires are actually a really easy accessory to add to your RV. In fact, it should be the first thing you do if you purchase an RV without a spare.
If you are purchasing a brand-new RV, make sure that you tell your salesperson at the dealership that you want to have a spare tire added as an option or part of an accessory package. This will ensure that your spare tire matches the tires on your new RV.
The easiest way to add a spare tire to your used RV is to work with your local tire dealer. They can help you find the right wheel configuration to match the bolts on your RV. They will also be able to help you find the proper tire to work with the existing tires on your RV.
3. Does spare tire size matter?
For some things in life, size shouldn’t matter, but for RV spare tires, size definitely matters! RV tires are generally designed differently than passenger tires. Even pickup tires are not designed for the weight and travel demands of an RV.
When you are looking at RV spare tires, the first thing that you should focus on is the size. Ideally, the size of your spare tire should be an exact match to the tires on your RV. If possible, make sure that it is the same brand, model, and tread type.
This is the safest spare tire you’ll buy. If you are in a pinch and need a spare, but cannot find the exact same tire, look for one that is the same size, rating, and tread type. This will work in a pinch, and at least get you to a tire store safely.
4. Can you tow your RV with a spare tire installed?
There are some considerations to keep in mind. However, yes, your RV can be towed with a spare tire installed. First, the only safe way to head out on the road with a spare tire on your RV is if the tire is an exact match to the other tires on the RV.
If the spare tire you have is the same size, rating, and tread type, you can safely tow your RV. After you arrive at the nearest tire shop, your original tire can be repaired or replaced. In this situation, you should travel at a slower speed and if possible, avoid rough roads.
If your spare tire is completely different from the tires on your RV, you should not tow your RV. This has the potential to cause sway, bouncing, undue stress on the hitch and tow vehicle, or damage to the RV.
If you have a flat, and your spare does not match, do not tow the RV. Take the flat tire to the nearest tire shop to have it repaired.
Final Thoughts: Do RVs Have Spare Tires?
We are all so used to the idea that cars and trucks come with a spare tire as a standard feature. RV spare tires are often considered an add-on or optional feature. And if you are buying a used RV the likelihood that it will have a spare tire, or a proper spare tire is questionable.
If you are in the market for an RV or camper, whether new or used, one of the first things to look for is a spare tire. RV spare tires are an essential accessory that every RV should have.
If your RV does not have a spare tire, before you hit the road, make sure you add this to your list of “must-have” safety items.
About the Author:
Jason Gass is a full-time freelance writer and part-time RVer whose goal is to share great stories around a campfire with good friends.
When he’s not working, he spends most of his time camping, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.