How to Change a Flat Tire on Your RV

Are you ready to take your RV or travel trailer out on an adventure? Don’t just hook up and go. Especially if your RV, trailer, or camper has been parked since last summer. With some planning and a trip to Les Schwab, you can help avoid a flat tire or other issues. But as we all know, flats do happen on the open road. And when they do, it’s important to understand how to change a tire (just in case). Our experts have some advice on what you need and how to change a tire on a travel trailer.

Equipment Needed for the Job

Before you head out, bring your RV or trailer to Les Schwab for a free pre-trip safety check. We’ll inspect the spare for cracks, separating tread, and other issues that could leave you stranded. Plus, we’ll verify other vital components to help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Once your trailer is all checked out, be sure you have the following items. You can pick up some of these at your local Les Schwab.

Tools to change a tire on an RV

  1. Leather Gloves.

    Any gloves are better than nothing to protect your hands, but leather gloves are more durable when handling heavy, hot metal and rubber.

  2. Bottle Jack.

    Additionally, pack a piece of plywood (or other flat, sturdy object including wood, concrete, or plastic) along with your bottle jack. This will help stabilize the jack and prevent it from sinking into the ground.

  3. Long-Handle Lug Wrench.

    You’ll also need sockets that fit the lugs on EVERY wheel. Remember to check the spare, too. Those lugs can often be a different size.

  4. Torque Wrench.

    If you have one, a torque wrench can help ensure the lugs are tightened correctly. Incorrectly tightening the lug nuts can cause a loss of torque pressure between the wheel and the mounting surface, potentially causing the wheel to come loose. To help ensure proper torque, bring your trailer to Les Schwab before your first trip of the season or anytime you change a flat.

  5. Socket Set and Cordless Impact Wrench and/or Gun.

    This is a “nice to have.” You’ll still need the lug wrench to loosen and tighten each lug.

  6. Bolt Cutters.

    This is a “nice to have” item, but not always necessary. Bolt cutters are useful if you need to remove steel cords from a failed tire that has wrapped itself around the axle.

  7. Reflectors or Flares. (Not shown)

    In addition to turning on your hazard lights, place one reflector close behind your RV or trailer and another 10-15 feet farther away.

  8. Mat or Towel. (Not shown)

    This will help protect your knees from the inevitable, unforgiving pavement and rocks as you change the tire.

Changing Your RV Tire: A Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Pull over.

    Try to get out of traffic, if possible. If you only have the side of the road, find a wide spot.

    Pull your RV off the road

  2. Loosen the lugs.

    Before jacking the trailer, loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with the flat tire. Loosen them just enough so you can turn them by hand (with your fingers) once the trailer is off the ground.

    Loosening lug nuts

  3. Jack up the trailer.

    Place the jack under the frame of the trailer or at a specified jack point on the side that has the flat tire. If necessary, add a flat piece of wood under the jack for added stability.

    Les Schwab Tip: To avoid damaging your trailer, do not place the jack on the axle. The image below shows the proper jack point for this double-axle travel trailer.

    Trailer jack

  4. Remove the flat.

    As long as the affected wheel spins freely, use the lug wrench to remove the lugs and the wheel.

    Remove flat tire

  5. Change the tire.

    Replace the flat with your spare.

    Put spare tire on

  6. Tighten the lugs.

    Use a star pattern when tightening the lugs.

    Proper order for four lug nuts.
    Proper order for five lug nuts.
    Proper order for six lug nuts.
    Proper order for eight lug nuts.

  7. Lower the jack.

    Once it’s on the ground, give each lug nut on the wheel/tire assembly a good tightening. Then, carefully drive to Les Schwab. We’ll check the torque on those lugs to help ensure your safety.

Get Your RV Ready

Every time you head out in your RV or trailer, there are a few things you can do to limit your chances of a flat or other issue. Check out 10 Steps to Get Your RV or Trailer Ready for the Road.

Another way to get your RV or trailer ready is to stop by Les Schwab. Schedule an appointment and we’ll check the tires for cracks around the stem and base of your wheels, check for bulging, top off your tire pressure, and show you how much life is left on your RV or trailer tires. If you need new ones, you’ll be in the right place. We’ll also check the brakes and wheel bearings on your trailer or RV. If those bearings need repacking, we’ll provide you with an estimate.

How Les Schwab Can Help You Prepare Ahead of Time

How old are your trailer tires? When was the last time you had someone check and re-pack the bearings? If it’s been a handful of years, it’s time to bring your RV or trailer to Les Schwab.

Over time, the rubber in your trailer and RV tires can get brittle. Especially when exposed to direct sunlight and left unused for more than half of the year. That can lead to tire failure, which is not what you want to experience when you’re in the middle of nowhere with your family.

Why Wheel Bearings Are Important

The wheel bearings on a trailer are located inside the wheel hub assembly. This connects the wheel to the axle to help provide friction-free movement. Without properly working and greased wheel bearings, your tire and wheel assembly cannot spin properly.

Swing by Les Schwab and we’ll give your wheel bearings a quick look. We can also talk to you about a regularly scheduled maintenance plan to keep you one step ahead of potential issues.

Les Schwab Knows RV and Trailer Tires

Your local Les Schwab carries the right tires and wheels for your RV or trailer. Plus, we’re here to inspect your spare, bearings, springs, shackles and shocks, and offer helpful advice for your next outing. Stop by or schedule an appointment today.