There are a lot of areas of caravan maintenance and safety you need to be aware of when investing in and using a caravan. One of the most crucial, though, is caravan tyre safety. Why? Simply put, the tyres on a caravan are the only part of the touring vehicle that have any contact with the road. That means that being able to steer, accelerate, brake and corner successfully and crucially, safely, depends on an incredibly small area of road contact, when you consider how big a caravan is compared to its tyres.
One piece of equipment that you may have come across or read about is caravan tyre savers. If you are completely new to caravan tyre savers or want more information about them, you’ve come to the right place. In the following post, we are going to explain exactly what caravan tyre savers are, when you should be using them and how much they can actually save the tyres on your tourer. We will then look at some of the most popular tyre savers on the market and discuss alternatives that some caravanners use instead.
What Are Caravan Tyre Savers?
Although to the untrained eye, caravan tyre savers resemble levelling ramps. While they are very similar, tyre savers differ in that they have a curved surface rather than a flat surface. How do they help?
Well, this is the interesting part. It all has to do with flat spots on tyres and reducing the risk of blowouts while you are out on the road.
What is Ovalization or Caravan Tyre Flat Spots Caused By?
It’s fair to say that for the majority of the time, caravans actually sit idle. That means that all their weight pushes down against a surface area on the tyre that is in contact with the ground that is not quite as big as it should be. The longer your caravan remains in that stationary position, the greater the chance of the rubber of the tyres will develop serious flat spots. This issue is often referred to by the other name of ovalization.
Older tyres are more likely to develop flat spots as their rubber is a lot less elastic. As you may expect, the heavier your caravan is, the greater the chance of flat spots developing. The type of caravan that is most at risk is a heavy model built on top of a single axle because twin-axle caravans spread the load across four tyres instead of just two.
How Caravan Tyre Savers Actually Help
As we touched on earlier in this post, the design of tyre savers – that curved profile – helps to spread out the pressure on a tyre across a larger area. With that larger area to take the load, flat spots are less likely. All things are relative, though, because any caravan that is left sitting idle for a considerable length of time may still result in misshapen tyres. A sensible solution to this, especially when you are not going to hit the road for several months, during winter, for example, would be to rotate your caravan tyres many times.
What About Wheel Removal as an Alternative?
Some caravan users prefer to take a more drastic approach and rather than use tyre savers, they jack the caravan up and remove the wheels and sit them on axle stands. While it is true that this option will stop the tyres from developing flat spots, it may cause additional problems. For example, many caravan insurance providers have the rule written into the details of their policy that wheel locks should be fitted to help prevent theft. Which would mean if you removed the wheels when your caravan was in storage you could invalidate your insurance.
It may simply be impractical, at other times of the year, to remove your caravan’s wheels whenever it is not being used.
How About Using Levelling Ramps With Caravan Tyre Savers?
When you are staying at a caravan site or a seasonal pitch for a long time, it is a good idea to consider tyre savers. But, what if the site is not perfectly level? How can you make sure your caravan sits level while protecting the tyres using savers?
Most levelling ramps are not compatible with most tyre savers. An exception is Milenco’s tyre savers, which can be used with Milenco Stacka Wedges that can be linked together to create a levelling ramp. Although, based on reviews and user experiences, it would seem that unless you are levelling your caravan on a hardstanding pitch, it would be difficult to use this approach.
Other Caravan Tyre Savers Alternatives
When you are looking to level your tourer while protecting its tyres at the same time, you may wonder if there are any suitable alternatives. One option would be to use a hydraulic self-levelling setup, but for most people, that is going to be far too expensive. Another, more affordable alternative, could be the Lock-n-Level inflatable airbags.
This approach was devised to solve an all-too-common problem. That is that many insurers state that you need to fit just an AL-KO wheel lock and nothing else. Trying to level a caravan and aligning the lock can be tricky using a levelling ramp.
When you use the airbag approach, however, there is a larger contact point, and there is also better load distribution onto the tyre than just using plastic tyre savers.
At the end of the day, it is up to you, based on your preference, budget, and other factors, which way you choose to proceed. It’s worth noting that using tyre savers does not mean you can totally forget standard caravan tyres best practices. You need to make sure you still change the tyres regularly – ideally every five years, and you should know the tyre pressures for your caravan’s wheels and use a high quality 1000PSI-rated tyre gauge to make sure they have the correct pressures.
You may find that your insurer provides discounts if you employ some kind of tyre pressure monitoring system to ensure your tyres are always inflated with the right air pressure. Above all else, when your caravan is in storage or sitting idle for months and months, caravan tyre savers are a good idea, but you should still rotate the tyres too.
We hope this look at caravan tyre savers helps to answer any questions and queries you may have had and provides you with some tips and recommendations for caravan tyre care.