Mark My Words-Tire Pressure, Exhaust Vents and Driving with Your Propane On!

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August 18, 2015

Mark NemethHi, All.

This month I’ll open the proverbial bag-o-worms by discussing driving with your propane on. Also, we’ll cover some tire issues and misc. I hope you enjoy reading along, and remember to submit your RV question to [email protected].  Happy trails!




How do you determine if you have the correct tire pressure for your conditions?  Load & speed etc.  I have always set cold to mfg. specs then gauged after they are warmed up to operating temperature.  Depending on the pressure then I would adjust as necessary. Your comments please? Thank you, Larry

Hi, Larry

Tire pressure needs to be set to the correct value to properly support the weight that the tire is carrying. The only way to determine what the tire pressures for your coach should be is to weigh it on individual wheel scales. Then, armed with the actual weights that the tires are carrying, you can set your tire pressure by the manufacturer’s load inflation chart for your tires. There is really NO other way, if you want to do it correctly.

Once you know what the pressure should be, your tires should be brought up to that correct pressure before the day’s driving. In other words, the pressure should be set with the tire at ambient temperature. Once you start to drive, the tire will heat up and the pressure will increase. That pressure increase is expected, and is taken into account by the tire engineers when they develop the inflation charts for the tire. You should never attempt to adjust pressure on a warm or hot tire, and especially don’t lower the inflation pressure on such a tire. If you do so, you will wind up with an under-inflated tire, and that can lead to tire damage or failure. Always set pressure on a cold tire, and don’t be concerned by the normal and expected pressure increase while the tire is rolling down the road.



Even though we only have 14700 miles on our 2007 fleet wood bounder, when should we replace the tires? They show no wear and plenty of tread. Don.

Hi, Don

The key to this is determining how old your tires actually are. There is a DOT code on every tire. Take a look at the picture below… The last 4 digits are the week and year the tire was made.

date code













The date code is always at the end of the DOT line, and will always be 4 numbers, no letters.  Once you know how old your tires are…

For tires mounted on an RV, the tire industry specifies a mandatory replacement at 7 years regardless of tread remaining. You can stretch that to 10 years if the tires are inspected yearly by a qualified dealer or service shop, but it is not a great idea to try to stretch it too far as RV tires are really in “severe service”. Simply put, RVers are hard on tires 🙂 You are at, or over, that 7 year mark, depending on what your tire date codes are. My advice is to start shopping for new tires. If you are not already a FMCA member, consider joining to get access to their tire discount program. They currently have discount programs in place for Michelin and BF Goodrich tires.


Hello Mark,

The exhaust vent over the stove in our camper has a top hinged flapper door on the exterior of the unit. I prefer to keep the door held shut when travelling to keep out dust from road work sites etc. This usually means that when we attempt to use the stove and vent fan, I have to run out with a pole to unlatch the high mounted flapper. Does any mfg. offer a remotely operated latch for these vent flapper doors?   Thanks Warren

Hi, Warren

You don’t know how many times I have asked that same question of the universe at large, usually while stumbling around outside in the morning to open that darn vent. No, unfortunately, I do not know of any remotely latch-able vent. Maybe one of my readers has an idea or a solution? I’ll post this in the column, because I’d sure like to know the answer as well!



I am a fairly novice RVer so I am not sure if this is common or a problem. I have water drainage that runs down the side of my RV from my AC.  It varies as to where depending on how it is parked. Should I be concerned? Thanks, Jacki

Hi Jacki

That is a normal occurrence, and nothing to worry about. As the AC operates, it condenses moisture from the air. That condensate drains out at the lower part of the AC unit. It winds up on the roof, and goes in whatever direction the RV is leaning until it finally runs off the roof. No Worries!


Hi, Mark

I was wondering why when I plug into land power that the battery for the engine doesn’t get charged. Is this normal or is there a problem with my charging system? Thanks, Bob

Hi, Bob

Actually, that is normal for most motorhomes. The reason that your house battery system charger doesn’t charge your engine starter battery is that starting batteries don’t like to be under constant float charge. I have seen cases where a well-meaning RV owner will run a wire from the converter to charge the engine starting battery as well. Unfortunately, that continuous low level charge will boil the starting battery dry and ruin it. If you are concerned with maintaining the charge on your starter battery (like during a period of extended storage), a good quality regulated trickle charger works very well for that and won’t harm the battery. I have been using a particular brand of charger for a number of years, and I highly recommend it. It’s the Schumacher Battery Charger/Maintainer — 1.5 Amp, Model# SEM-1562A. I use them on my motorcycles, and vehicles, and they have actually extended the life of those batteries by keeping them properly charged without over-charging over long inactive periods. I got mine on Amazon, but you can find them in a lot of auto parts stores as well…



I have a class “A” 2005 Winnebago Journey and I have a question about running the refrigerator while on the road.  I have been told by some people, that are reportedly more knowledgeable then me, that when I am traveling I should not have the propane on in my coach and should be running the refrigerator off of the inverter. I have also been told by others, again reportedly more knowledgeable than me, that I should not be using the inverter to power an appliance that has as much draw as the refrigerator, and should instead be running the generator. To make matters worse I have been informed by still others supposedly more knowledgeable than me, that there is nothing wrong with running the refrigerator off the propane, even when I am driving.  Help!!! What is the correct answer? I appreciate any information that you can give me. Lou

Hi, Lou

This is a common topic discussed around the campfire, and it is a bit controversial. The best I can do is to offer my personal opinion. I believe that having the propane system pressurized (main tank supply valves open) while travelling increases the risk of a fire if you are involved in an accident. If a gas line is damaged or broken, and the propane tank supply valves are open, there will be a release of potentially explosive propane gas. That’s a bad thing. For this reason, I choose to run with the main tank valve off. Now, many folks will say: Hey, I’ve been running with the propane on for XX years, and nothing bad has ever happened to me… Yep, that’s true, but having the tank valves open increases your risk… it just does. Now, let’s put that aside for just a minute and discuss WHY most RVers want to run with the propane on: They want to run their fridges while travelling. An RV fridge will happily operate on propane while you are driving and it will keep everything nice and cold. Unfortunately, it does add to that potential fire risk we talked about: the fridge uses an open flame to operate the cooling system on propane. So now, not only do you have a possibility, however slight, of a propane gas leak, you also have a handy ignition source ready to ignite it. See where I’m going with this?

Most motorhomes will easily support operating the fridge on an inverter while travelling. The engine alternator is generally capable of supplying the additional DC current needed to support the fridge operation, and still maintain your house batteries at full charge. This option should be a no-brainer for anyone travelling in a motorhome. Run the fridge on the inverter and turn off the propane at the tank. If you don’t have an inverter, either turn the fridge off while travelling, or consider running your onboard generator to run the fridge. It’s not very fuel efficient, but it will work.

Unfortunately, these options are not so workable for travel trailers and 5th wheels. The fridge will still run off an inverter, but because the engine alternator is so far away up in the front of the tow vehicle, it is usually not able to supply enough current to keep up with the inverter’s needs. This will cause your house batteries to run down while you travel. There are options, like adding some solar panels to support the fridge, or running a generator, but most trailer owners are not going to make that kind of investment just to run the fridge. For trailer owners, I suggest that you simply turn the fridge off and don’t open it. I travelled full-time in a 5th wheel for 5+ years, and I kept the fridge off when I was on the road. If I stopped along the way, I’d fire up the fridge while I had lunch or whatever, and then shut it down again when I got back on the road. I found that the fridge really will keep your food cold for a long time when it is off if you keep the door closed.

Now that’s my opinion… but you can do as you like. There are no laws or ordinances that require RVers to run with propane off (with the exception of a couple of tunnels or ferries here and there) so you can freely choose to run with it on if you want to. However, if you do choose to travel with the fridge operating on propane, please, please, turn it off before you approach any kind of a fuel dispensing facility. Gasoline, propane, diesel, it really doesn’t matter. That applies to your propane water heater and your furnace as well. All propane appliances should be off before you drive your RV into a fueling area.

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  1. Pat Almond


    Thanks for your previous reply on “Bearing Buddies.” For some years I have dragged the deep cycle batteries out of my trailer and put them on a trickle charger. I then turn the charger on for 10-hours every 10-days. It seems to work fine as I have had batteries last over 5-years and my dealer told me that 3-years is good for deep cycles. Now I live on a third floor apartment and dragging two deep cycle batteries up the stairs (no elevator) as I approach 70 and my spine is full of arthritis is becoming to say the least – a pain! I plan to hook up the two batteries to a 40W solar panel over the winter and leave it at that i.e. in situ (I reside in Calgary, Canada so temperatures can go below -30C for days at a time). The panel comes with a controller to prevent the batteries from overcharging. It seems to have worked well over this summer between trips. With all the “Add-on” electronics these days i noticed a steady (if relatively low) battery drain and the 40W seems to take care of that nicely. Any better ideas or comments?

  2. Robert Schalk

    Turn off the refrigerator propane and just put a couple large soda bottles of frozen water inside to keep it cold enough until you stop for the day. Refreeze them overnight for the next days trip.

  3. Bob Ashton

    In reply to the question re leaving fridge propane on while driving a M/ H or towing a trailer.
    Most fridges are capable of maintaining their temperature for 5 – 8 hours without being turned on.
    Some states and provinces have made it illegal to travel with any propane turned on.
    A story told to me goes as follows: if you are running your fridge on propane while moving and you come upon an accident where crashed vehicles have spilled gas on the road you do not want be there with an open flame from your fridge.
    Bob Ashton

  4. Terry Moore

    Hooked up the trailer’s water hose in the campground and could not get rid of a strong plastic smell and taste. It was definitely coming from the hose, not the supply or the RV’s internal plumbing. How can I “clean” the inside of the hose? What is the best way to store the hose after camping?