Going away without checking the tyres on your motorhome could be a recipe for disaster. Pivotal to the smooth handling of your camper, tyres that haven’t been looked after, inspected or tested could bring your holiday crashing down around you.
By simply giving your tyres the once over, you'll avoid the pain of a breakdown. However…. if they do need changing, what sort of tyres should you buy?
What are the differences between Motorhome Tyres and Normal Tyres?
Motorhome tyres or Camping tyres are those designed specifically for mobile homes. They have several important features which make them a necessity for campers:
- One of the most important qualities of Motorhome tyres is their ability to carry heavy loads. They have a much higher weight carrying capacity than normal tyres and van tyres. Car tyres can typically take a load of up to 500kg with van tyres able to withstand 700kg. Even smaller motorhomes, weighing around 2700kg, can put loads of 675kg on each tyre. This will certainly burst normal car tyres at speed. Some motorhomes require tyres that can take a maximum load of over 1200kg on each tyre.
Tyremen tip- All tyres have their maximum load at maximum pressure moulded into the sidewall of each tyre - often known as the Load Index
- Due to the shear load, motorhome tyres need to withstand high pressure. A typical car tyre is limited to a maximum pressure of around 40 psi compared to a light commercial vehicle tyres which are inflated to around 65 psi. Specialist motorhome tyres can be inflated to 80psi.
Tyremen tip - Like all tyres, motorhome tyres need to be inflated correctly. Incorrect tyre pressures can have an adverse affect on handling, wear out more quickly, increase fuel consumption and cause blowouts which may lead to accidents. Always check your vehicle/chassis handbook and inflate your tyres to the correct pressure. Remember, the volume of pressurised air within the tyre determines the load the tyre can withstand. Reducing the tyre pressure reduces the load capacity of the tyre.
- The tougher sidewalls on camping tyres bring two major advantages. Firstly, they're better at running at the high pressures motorhomes demand and secondly their rigidity gives the vehicle a more solid base, which prevents it from moving around and swaying.
- You'll also see differences in tread compound. Tread compound is important for grip in poor weather conditions. It also makes your motorhome better at dealing with wet campsites, country lanes and heavy impact.
Can you use normal van tyres on your motorhome? and more importantly, should you?
It's perfectly legal to use van tyres for motorhomes on UK roads. However, the load rating must be high enough to carry the weight of the vehicle. Standard van tyres won't give you any of the benefits of camping tyres, as described above.
Camper tyres are 15% more expensive than standard van tyres. For obvious reasons, this is why many motorhome owners use standard van tyres instead.
However, the major benefits of safety, wear and tear and fuel savings more than make up the extra cost.
What about tyre brands?
The most common motorhome tyres are Michelin, Continental and Pirelli which are usually fitted by manufacturers on new motorhomes. 2008 tyre tests showed that Continental tyres were the top performers, known for their stability and superior braking distances. However, with many new product launches from all three brands, we believe that there really isn’t much in it anymore.
Pirelli Chrono Camper
Pirelli’s Chrono Camper is capable of increased pressures to handle the weight of the motorhome. This tyre tread has a high resistance to wear and tear, lots of great road grip and stability due to strengthened side walls. New improved rubber mixtures and tread pattern has also improved the excellent overall adhesion.
Common Sizes and Prices:
225/75R16 (116R) £134.10
215/75R16 (113R) £
The qualities of new Agilis Camping tyre from Michelin include long tread life, enhanced safety performance and reduced fuel consumption. Reduced CO2 emissions together with 20% more mileage means this is one of the greenest camper tyres available. With reinforced rubber compounds and dual-casing architecture allows for higher tyre pressure and superior wet grip performance, perfect for campsites and wet fields. The Michelin Agilis Camper is a firm favourite for many motorhome enthusiasts.
Michelin Agilis Camping Common Sizes:
When it comes to camper tyres, the tests demonstrate that the Continental VancoCamper tyres have consistently out-performed their competitors in the past and have superior braking distances.
As campervans and motorhomes have become better equipped, they’ve also increased in weight. The Continental Vanco Camper is they tyre built specifically to withstand those changes. It’s famous for its stability, robust construction and improved durability. Capable of up to 80psi it is far superior to a normal van tyre, the VancoCamper is by far our most popular camping tyre at the moment.
Continental Vanco Camping Common Sizes:
So are Camping Tyres Necessary?
To answer the original question, no, camping tyres aren't necessary. There is nothing compelling you to purchase these specialist tyres. You won't be looked down upon for using van tyres instead. However, you will be losing out in terms of value for money.
There's also a noticeable difference in the driving experience when you opt for specialist tyres. If you're a regular camper, it's definitely worth investing. You’ll certainly be thankful when you’re at full weight capacity and you need that little bit of extra support from your wheels.