Why don’t some RV manufacturers include a spare tire with a new RV?  Is it a liability issue or a cost issue? I have heard both sides of the story over the years, and it usually depends on what type of a RV you are talking about.

I have owned three towable RV’s and two motorized RV’s. Two of the towable RV’s came with spare tires when I purchased them and I ordered a spare tire as an option on our Class C motorhome, but I could not get a spare for our Class A motorhome.

It seems ridiculous that you buy an RV, designed for traveling all over the country, and the one thing not included is a spare tire. Let’s try to find out why there’s no spare!

It has been rumored that many years ago an RV owner got hurt while changing a tire on his motorhome and that he sued the RV manufacturer. This is supposedly why many motorhome manufacturers opt not to include a spare tire, especially on larger motorhomes.

Admittedly changing a spare tire on a large motorhome is not the same as changing a tire on your automobile. From a liability standpoint the argument is because of the size on the RV and the weight of the tire and rim it can be dangerous for an individual to attempt changing a tire. Plus you would need to carry some special type of equipment to safely and properly change a tire. I would have to agree, but why not include a spare (without a jack or the other necessary equipment) and have a mandatory warning label stating the dangers of changing a tire along with a recommendation to use a professional road side tire service to change the tire for the owner.

Here is what some RV and chassis manufacturers have to say:

Why doesn’t the RV come with a spare tire?

The combined weight of the tire and wheel is approximately 110 pounds. Even if you feel comfortable lifting that amount of weight, other variables pose a problem when it comes to changing an RV tire. You may find yourself on the side of the road in a confined situation, or during the nighttime when it is raining.

Jacking up the side of the RV would be difficult. Leveling jacks are not designed to lift the entire wheel off the ground to change a tire. To change a flat RV tire, it would be necessary to store the correct jacks and jack stands for safety. The next hurdle would be the lug nuts, which are torqued to 500 pounds and difficult to remove. Once removed, and while reinstalling, a tool to properly retorque the lug nuts would be needed. All these necessary tools, combined with the actual spare tire, would take up a considerable amount of space and add additional weight to the RV. Call roadside assistance for tire repair and save yourself the aggravation.

My vehicle doesn’t include a spare tire. Where can I get one and where can I store it?

Most larger motorhomes don’t provide a spare for several reasons. Generally, the wheel assembly is too cumbersome and heavy for one person to change alone without risking injury. We’d recommend that, in the case of a flat, you enlist the help of a roadside service crew to fix your flat tire. If you do decide to obtain a spare wheel assembly, contact your dealer for details on ordering one and the proper way to store it.

Now that we know why some motorhome manufacturers don’t include spares why don’t some of the towables manufacturers include spares?

This is where the cost issue comes into play. RV manufacturers look at every penny going in to manufacturing the RV. Not including a spare in the base price of the RV can save money, so they list the spare tire as optional. What this means is when the RV dealer orders the unit they can add a spare or not add a spare. If a dealer is trying to bring a unit in based on price point they limit the options included on the unit. When I was a RV sales manager I included a spare tire on every towable unit just because it made sense and it really wasn’t that expensive.

You still need to consider the safety aspects of changing a tire on a trailer. Even though it’s smaller and lighter than a motorhome tire you still need equipment like a jack, jack stands, lug wrench and torque wrench. In addition to the equipment required, you need to have a basic understanding of how to safely and properly jack the trailer up. But again, if you have a spare you can always call a roadside service to change it for you. If you don’t have a spare you may be stranded in some out of the way place until the tire can be ordered and come in. This could take a couple of days, if not longer.

That brings me to how this article came about. We are planning a cross country RV trip this summer and I refuse to go without a spare tire. Our motorhome has 22.5 inch tires with 8 lug rims. When I tried to locate a tire and rim it was difficult to find one. I’m sure I could order one from the manufacturer, but I would be afraid to know what the cost is. We have a good roadside assistance plan so what I decided to do was to just buy the tire itself and if I have a flat the roadside tire service can mount the new tire on the rim. It is less weight and it eliminates the possibility of delays due to ordering and waiting for a tire to come in, if it isn’t in stock.

Note: Most, if not all roadside service plans won’t pay for mounting and balancing the tire, but it will still probably cost less than purchasing a 22.5 inch rim.

Regardless of whether or not your RV came with a spare I think it’s a good idea to get one, and I think for safety reasons you are better off having a roadside service plan that will change the tire for you.

What do you think?

Mark Polk

 

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29 comments

  1. BuckGardner

    I was stumped to find this out a a new RV purchaser. No spare? You’re kidding right? I told the dealership. With the cost of Alcoa alum 22.5 inch rims out of sight I settled for finding a new tire and carrying it in the MH. And I do carry the proper torque wrench, jack, sockets, chocks and so on. The new tire is about 38″ diameter and about a foot thick. It is heavy but handles well. I wedged it under the rig in a pass thru compartment and it is good security to know I won’t be ripped off for a new tire at tourist prices by some roadside bandit on a weekend at night.

    I only wish the rig (Chev C-5500) came with a better spot to put it. The best part of having it is knowing that I probably won’t need it since I have one. Counteract Murphy’s Law.

  2. Mike

    I haven’t had a flat on my car in over 10 years and never on my trailers (of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll have 3 blowouts on the way home from work tonight). I’m obsessive with checking tire pressure & rotating at regular intervals.

    With modern tire design and American-made tires, I would rather not carry a couple hundred pounds of equipment & spare tire/wheel on the tiny chance I might get a flat.

  3. Bob Wilson

    When I bought our last motorhome, it did not come with a spare and wheels are 22.5. I bought a tire and rim. But found that the rim would not fit in any compartment. So the logical thing to do is to carry the tire, especially since a Pro would be needed to change the tire and they would have the equipement to install the new tire, but would not have a stock of tires.

  4. Tom Hargreaves

    I remove and install the wheels on my 27′ TT all the time — on a level concrete pad with proper jacks and chocks (and a torque wrench). However: when we had a blowout going up a hill on the interstate last year, we got the rig safely to the berm, which of course is slanted. The blown tire was on the passenger side, fortunately, so I chocked the trailer and looked at the situation. We were on an interstate, headed uphill, the whole rig was tilted to the right and the only jack I had was the one for the truck. Just as I was thinking about how I could put blocks under the jack and use the stabilizers, my wife said “Why don’t we just call AAA.” I blinked, common sense smacked my upside the head with that old 2×4, and we called for a pro. I got out the spare, inflated it to the correct pressure and the tow truck arrived quickly. After parking WELL behind my rig (he was just as worried about someone running into us at 70 mph as I had belatedly become), he R and R’d the tire and we were back on our way. In retrospect, it was far less hassle and much safer to do it that way (and make use of those big bucks we pay for RV coverage) than it was to be the macho hero . . . thanks to my DW who tends to look at things a little differently than I do. So, IMHO: spares good, roadside DIY not so much.

  5. Bob Reising

    We are new to RVing and have a class A with 19.5 inch rims. I also have no spare and am curious about carrying just a tire. Can it possibly be wedged into a basement compartment? It will have to be flattened somewhat to squeeze in there. Would this damage the tire over time and is it even possible to deform it in this way?

  6. Connie

    I wonder what the reason is car manufactures are not putting spares in their new cars. We were at the dealer last week and NO spare, just a fix-a-flat kit. Check out the fine print on the sticker.
    We didn’t like that!!!!! That excuse for a tire called, a “donut” must be really expensive. But the donut would get us to a tire company. Would the fix-a-flat kit do that???

  7. Don Keeney

    You have to keep in mind most roadside tow trucks can’t or won’t change tires!!! Some places have laws that a tire of that size must be changed inside a “cage”.
    We bought our Motor Home because it has a spare tire AND wheel in it’s own compartment!!! I have had blowouts on the road and the spare was a life saver in time and getting off the side of the road!!!

  8. I am planning upon moving into a used 34 foot Motor Home that I bought a few months ago. One of the first things I did was to buy a sparer tire carrier that fits onto
    the receiver. I had an additional receiver installed on the front of the coach , the when
    and bought a steel wheel and good tire for it.
    I have also purchased the trucker type tire tool and tool bar that goes along with it as
    well as a five foot pipe for added leverage. Resting the tire tool on a jack stand and applying the leverage of a five foot bar requires only 100 foot pounds of torque.

    I did have to take the RV to a truck tire shop to have the front lugs loosened and re torqued as those two had been overtightened.

    I don’t wish to be with out a spare and even if needed to call for assistance , I will have to proper size wheel and tire with me. An internet search will, I believe,
    result in a spare tire carrier for your particular style RV.

  9. Sue Tsuda

    When I got my motorhome second hand, it had a place for the tire, but no tire. I had my “tire man”get me a rim and put 7 tires instead of just 6 on the vehicle. I wouldn’t think of changing it (or any other tire), but the spare came in handy when the right front tire went flat. Good Sam changed it and then I had the tires looked at and replaced all of them. By that time they were 5 years old and needed replacing.

  10. Thomas Becher

    don;t know about other states but wisconsin requires a spare tire be carried for a trailer. Now I now that a lot of people don;t carry a spare and I see a lot of trailers along side the road and no tow vechicle around. Went to get a spare,I guess.We just went to the Madison Wi RV show and I noticed that a spare tire and rim is “optional” but the dealer had it installed. Smart Dealer I don’t know if I want to change a tire on the side of a highway, but I could call ERS and let them do it, and i;d have the spare to put on anyway.

  11. Frank

    I am on my second motor home, a Fleetwood Revolution LE, and NO SPARE TIRE. My previous, a Monaco, had a spare. I recently retired from UPS in Kentucky as an over-the-road driver, and none of their trucks are equipped with spare tires. I had blowouts and flats, but I am glad that I did not have to change or replace a tire on the side of the busy interstates with traffic whizzing past at 70+ mph. I will carry a spare tire in my motor home for emergency but will definitely utilize “Good Sam Roadside Service” if I need a tire changed.

  12. Larry E. Haines

    I have a 35 foot Adventurer. It has a spare mounted in the rear, between the frame. I change my own tires at home. While on the road, I have had many blowouts. I have road service from Camping World. I just call, and a serviceman comes and changes my tire. I usually try and get things ready for him when he comes. Some of my tire problems have come late at evening or night. If I didn’t have a spare, I would have to wait along the road, or leave the MH there and unhook my tow vehicle and go to a motel. Now I not only have an unexpected motel bill, but three or four hundred dollars for a new tire.
    Give me a spare anytime.

  13. Dalton Tamney

    I have a 38′ motorhome with 22.5″ rims. I don’t yet have a spare. The thought of changing a tire on this rig is somewhat daunting. First I have ot find a jack that is capable of lifting the rig which grosses at 32,000 lbs. Next I have to have the proper torque wrench to both remove the lug nuts and replace them not to mention having to wrestle the tire and rim into place. I would prefer to have a pro do this. However, I do not have the room to carry a full spare on a rim, forgetting the cost. I have thought about just carrying the tire but the plans I have looked at, including Good Sam which I currently have, will not mount a tire onto the rim. They will just put a fully inflated spare on. My tire is therefore of limited value. I would still need a pro tire replacement shop with a mobile service to do this or have my rig towed to a service shop where this can be done. If anyone knows of a plan that will actually mount a spare tire onto a rim by the side of the road, please, please let me know.

  14. Lee

    I have a 2008 class A – 37′ Gerogetown by Forrest River. It has the 22.5″ Alcoa rims. It came with a spare tire (no rim) in its own compartment.

    The manufacturer believes for all the reasons stated elsewhere that owners should not be trying to change a tire on a rig like this on the side of the road. They also know most roadside assistance outfits that deal with large trucks and RVs can break a tire off the rim and install a spare anywhere they can get to with their truck. All you need is the tire.

  15. Gary

    We have put a few miles on our rig – I’ll take the spare and road service anytime. We don’t have many flats but when you are going 70 MPH and you blow a tire on the rear of your tow vehicle on a busy little two lane – it can get pretty dicey. The last trip of the year – we just left home, got up to speed and boom – thar she blows. Got ‘er pulled over and stopped but couldn’t get out because of the traffic. My wife didn’t even wait for me to make up my mind – she called AAA right away. I couldn’t find the little attachment to fit on the tool to let the spare down under the truck. The AAA guy did a great job. The great part of the whole thing was (1) I had a spare, (2) I had all the equipment we needed and the AAA guy knew where the attachment was, (3) a couple of really nice Montana cowboys stopped to help, (4) We weren’t far from Les Schwabb and they replaced the tire for free. Once we got it all worked out, we had an absolutely marvelous trip.

  16. Dalton Tamney

    Lee

    If you know of a road assistance firm that will break a tire off a 22.5″ rim and mount a spare tire on that rim, could you please tell me who they are or how I can get hold of them. As I noted previously most that I have looked into, Including Good Sam, won’t do that.

  17. J F Tipton

    Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service advertises as being ideal for RV travelers. This issue seems like the perfect time for them to step up and provide a service to the customer. If manufacturers do not provide spares and it is too dangerous for the average person to handle this task, then road service should step up and prevent their customers from being injured. Maybe, mounting a tire on a rim as a paid service would be a good place to start.

  18. BuckGardner

    I had the first posted comment at the top. Lots of good comments have followed. The consensus seems to be to call for help but have a new tire on hand and even better if you want, on a rim as well. I entertained joining GoodSam ERS until I emailed them in advance about roadside tire service and was replied they will take off bad tire and rim and put on mounted spare. And they were vague about the size tire/rim spare they would work with. Needless to say I am not signed up. OTR truckers typically carry a tire and call for a tire service truck I am told.

    If on a well traveled route that should work. On the lesser traveled routes I favor having the stuff to remove bad tire rim and a new tire to carry to the closest truck tire shop. Having it on a rim as well would be that much better. I am going to try and find a front receiver hitch and tire mount for my 2008 Seneca (Chevy C-5500) asap. I need some weight out front anyway. Thanks for all the ideas.

  19. Manuel Enos

    My wife and I have a 39′ Dutchstar and it came with a new tire no rim. We have AMOCO road service and they said they would mount a tire if we had a flat and called for trucker road service. So far so good, no flats no blowouts. Knock on wood..

  20. Dalton Tamney

    What I have taken from this discussion is that if you have a trailer or something along those lines, take a full spare as it can likely be changed much the same as on a car or light truck. If you have something heavier but can carry a mounted spare, call for road assistance to do the job. However if you have a class A with 22.5″ rims you may have a problem with the regular roadside service even if you have room for fully mounted spare. Myself with the latter situation, I’m going to try to carry the unmounted tire. At least then if I can get to a capable tire shop I won’t have to gamble that they will have the size tire I need. I agree with the comment that services like Good Sam ERS should have a look at this issue and prepare a service to deal with the eventuallity.

  21. Manuel, I looked into the BP Motor Club, which I think was formerly Amoco Motor Club and under the FAQ this is what it said:

    Q: Are RVs (Recreational Vehicles) covered under BP MotorClub membership?

    A: Yes, the BP MotorClub offers full Roadside Assistance benefits for RVs with a carrying capacity of up to one ton (2,000 pounds). Recreational vehicles and trucks with more than 4 wheels or a carrying capacity of more than one ton (2,000 pounds) can only be provided starting and fuel delivery service.

    Actually since writing the article I have looked into several of the major roadside assistance programs available for RV’s. All of them, that I checked, only offer changing a tire with an inflated spare, or towing the RV to a location where it can be repaired, and some have limited tow mileage too. The owner would be responsible to pay for any labor such as mounting and balancing a tire.

    I would guess that at least 25% of RV’s purchased today come without spares. Those individuals basically have 3 options. 1) Travel without a spare (not a good option) 2) travel with a spare tire but no rim (better option because at least you have a tire that might be difficult to locate. Now hope that you don’t have a flat and therefore don’t have to pay labor charges for mounting and balancing) 3) Travel with a spare tire and rim ( best option but it can be pricey. I called Ford and a 22.5 inch steel rim is slightly over $500.00. I didn’t price the tire yet)

    It only seems logical that one, or more, RV roadside assistance program would offer a reimbursible fee for having a tire mounted and balanced on a rim. Otherwise what’s the reason for paying for roadside assistance? I don’t think they would go broke for the number of RVers traveling with only the tire who actually have a flat and need it to be mounted and balanced.

    Right now I am trying to locate a rim online for much less than what Ford wants for it. By the way, they also told me the 22.5 inch Alcoa rims are about $1,300.00! I hope nothing ever happens to one of them.

  22. Roger

    I noted that no one mentioned having a Tire Pressure Monitor System.

    The reality is that IF you know the real load on each tire and IF you are properly inflating your tires a ‘Blow-Out” is very unlikely on modern tires.
    Yes, you could get a puncture but would probably have a few miles advance notice which would give you time to find a safe place to pull over.
    Blow-Outs really only occur after a tire has been run overloaded / underinflated for many miles.
    When shopping for an RV, knowing if there is room to store a tire is one of the things you probably need to consider.

    Having worked as a tire engineer for 40 years, I can tell you that car manufacturers would like to eliminate the spare in cars but one of the main reasons why they are slow to do so is that many customers still want a spare, even if they have no idea on how to change a tire.

    I have a 24’ C and it came with a spare wheel & tire and the MFG included a nice storage space. BUT they did not include a Jack or wrench. I installed a TPMS but also carry a jack, support planks, tools and even a compressor.

    If I had a Class A, I would also install a TPMS and carry a compressor. I think I would carry just a tire as insurance because RV sizes are not always easy to find, but i would not plan on changing my own tire even though I have mounted dozens of truck tires in my work.

  23. David Rohlader

    In addition to the weight/tools/liability issues, most spares carried on RVs are not used for many years and may not be included in the owner’s personal maintenance schedule. I took a look at the spare on the 1995 Pace Arrow I just bought. The rubber was hard and the date on the tire indicated that it was original with the RV. I bought a new tire and had it mounted. Tire dealers and tow truck personel will tell you that most failures of tires on cars come from spares that have not been rotated. Be smart, if you have a spare, make sure it is roadworthy and properly inflated.

  24. Marlan

    I really liked the idea of the roadside service. I would think that some good followups would be to list nationwide numbers/services that people could utilize for service. I saw on the comments Good Sam, BP Motoroclub and AAA mentioned. But are there more? Are there gotchas? Do you HAVE to have a membership or can you call when you need it (for a much larger price of course)? Would love to hear about people’s experiences with those services.

  25. the Super Air ON BOARD TIRE INFLATION SYSTEM is the way to go for rv tire maintnce .it monitors pressure and allowes inflation on the go providing increased SAFETY and CONVENIANCE!!!!!!!! it can bo used with just about any vehicle and will SAVE YOUR TRIP!!! it can be seen at http://www.superairsales.com it is used on volvo and mercedes show coaches.

  26. Update:
    I found a website to a company that had the matching 22.5 inch 8 lug steel rim for only $65.00 and a 235/80R 22.5 tire for $110.00 to use as a spare. Even with shipping charges from Iowa to NC its still a great deal.

    Here is a link to the site

    http://www.ronthebusnut.com/aboutUs.php

  27. Tom

    Two years ago we toured Alaska with a group from Adventure Caravans. We traveled in a little older Class C we purchased just for the trip. It had good tires on it but they were showing signs of age. We put on six new tires as there are many miles between stops in both Canada and Alaska. We did have a spare but as a “just in case” effort I took two extra old, original tire casings along for the ride. Where to store them was the question. The Class C had a small utility railing on top. I stored them on the roof, securely fastened, for the trip. Several people in our group had tire troubles during the trip. Of course, being prepared, I didn’t have a hint of a problem. We put on almost 11,000 miles on the rig with just that one awsome trip. It pays to be more safe than sorry!!!

  28. Pete

    We have a Cl A Diesel Pusher – in other words a full size diesel truck. 1) Tires and wheels are really expensive for this. 2) You have to replace the tires every 7 years or so whether they are worn out or not, because they can fall apart — I have had this happen on my diesel trucks – so you end up replacing the spare every 7 years also. 3) You probably can’t change the tire yourself anyway – it ways hundreds of pounds and the torque on the nuts that hold it on is unbelievable 4) Space for storage is at a premium if you live in your motorhome. 6) Its only 80 to 120 bucks usually to have someone come out and fix / replace a tire on the road. 7) The tires on these rigs are really really tough – so the odds of ruining one on the road is pretty slim – so playing the odds over a 7 year period, the spare is a bad bet.

  29. Joe

    I have Good Sam Road Service, but posts say that they will not mount a tire onto a rim. The question that was asked by two others was never answered. What road service will come to the scene and mount the spare tire onto a rim when you get a flat? I want to switch to that company!