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What are RV ‘China Bomb’ Tires?

A blown tire can cause catastrophic damage to your RV and potentially an accident. If you join any large Facebook groups for RVers, it won’t take long before a picture of a blown tire pops up in your newsfeed.

You’ll likely see comments stating the tires were “China Bombs,” and the driver was doomed before they even left the dealership lot. But what exactly are “China bomb” tires?

Let’s take a look.

Are China Bomb Tires a Real Thing? 

“China bomb” tires, as many commenters call them, are often the standard tires that come on an RV from the manufacturer. They may be a brand you don’t recognize and made as economically as possible.

A “China bomb” tire is usually an ST (Special Tire), which can carry heavy loads.

ST tires typpically have a 65 mph maximum speed rating, but the higher quality ST tires can sometimes handle up to 80 mph. If your RV has this type of tire, be sure to keep an eye on your speed.

When it comes to constructing typical “China bomb” tires, the sidewalls can be much stiffer than other tires. This helps prevent issues while turning. There’s also a much thicker steel wire that runs throughout the tire.

What Does ‘China Bomb’ Mean?

The term “China bomb” comes from the idea that many lower-quality tires come from China. Unfortunately, many of these tires have blown out while going down the highway.

A flat tire in an RV can be incredibly dangerous and cause a tremendous amount of damage. Some RVers say that their “China bombs” went bad even though they stayed on top of maintenance and kept an eye on their tire pressure.

Pro Tip: Here are a few things you can do to help prevent an RV tire blowout.

Is There Any Truth to the ‘China Bomb’ Tire Claims?

There are not many hard facts but a lot of anecdotal reports. RVers relate having a tire explode on their way home from the dealer.

Chinese manufacturers have found a profitable business model where RV manufacturers are willing to put low-quality tires on their RVs. Until RV manufacturers decide to stop using these, we’ll likely continue to hear reports of RVs having blowouts.

Even so, some RVers don’t properly maintain their tires, overload them, and exceed the speed rating. Any tire will fail under these circumstances, no matter where it was manufactured. 

Which RV Tires Are Made in the USA? 

The most well-known RV tire made in the U.S. is the Goodyear Endurance line. Some RVers have the dealer replace their “China bombs” with the American-made Goodyear Endurance tires before driving away with their new RV.

Cooper also makes some of its tires in the U.S. If the “Made in the USA” stamp is important to you, these two brands are great options.

Can You Get RV Tires at Walmart?

Yes, you can buy RV tires at Walmart.

They carry a variety of tires for RVs, trailers and vehicles. You can check availability and pricing by searching for RV tires on the Walmart website or by visiting your local Walmart store.

It is always advisable to check with the store before visiting to confirm the stock and pricing. This is in large part due to the fact that many Walmarts now have a small automotive section, and no vehicle service centers.

Can You Get RV Tires at Costco?

Whether Goodyear, Bridgestone, Michelin, or BF Goodrich, Costco carries well-known premium brand tires. They also carry other great quality brands that might not sound familiar but produce long-lasting tread for your vehicle. And, what they don’t have in-house at their tire centers, they can find at regional stores or tire suppliers.

The warehouse store can fit tires on all types of automobiles, including sports utility vehicles and trucks. They also have inventory for ATVs and utility terrain vehicles. Surprisingly, you will also find that Costco can supply tires for your golf cart and trailer, as well. 

How Often Should You Replace Your RV Tires?

RV tires typically last anywhere from three to six years, depending on how and where you use them. If you’re putting thousands of miles on them each year, you should expect a shorter lifespan.

Also, consider where you’re using your tires. Hotter road temperatures will cause your tires to run warmer, which can accelerate wear and tear. If your tires experience extreme temperature changes between camping seasons, this can also shorten their lives.

RV Tire Safety Tips – ‘China Bombs’ or Not

There are some tire safety tips that all RVers should know. Whether you’re new to RVing or not, make sure you’re aware of these tips before hitting the road on your next trip.

Use a TPMS

A TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) allows you to monitor your tire pressure and temperature while traveling down the highway. If your tire is leaking for some reason, the TPMS will recognize it and quickly sound an alarm.

This alert can help you pull over before a tire blows.

Replace Every 5 Years

Replacing the tires can be expensive, but it’s not worth pressing your luck when it comes to aging tires. As the tires’ rubber ages, it makes the tire more prone to failure. Keep a detailed record of the maintenance on your RV, including your tires. It can be easy to forget when you changed your tires. 

And don’t count on new tires actually being new. A tire shop could sell you tires that are a year or two old without you knowing it. Check the date code on tires before purchasing them.

Inspect Often

You should thoroughly inspect your tires before and after every trip, whether they’re ‘China bombs’ or not. You don’t want to hit the road and discover your tires can’t handle the journey.

Check the tire pressure and that your lug nuts are tightened to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. You should also inspect both the inside and outside sidewalls and look for objects lodged in the tires. Catching any of these issues can help you avoid a dangerous situation down the road.

Use Tire Covers When Parked

When UV light hits your tires, they can develop cracks. These cracks often occur in the sidewalls and result in your tires slowly leaking air. Some RVers use tire covers when parked or putting their vehicle in storage. This prevents damage while you’re not around.

Keep in mind: Here is a great tire cover for dual axle trailers.

Go for Quality to Promote Safety

Using low-quality tires on an expensive RV is a trend that we hope RV manufacturers avoid. Whether or not you replace your factory-installed possible ‘China bomb’ tires with ones made in the U.S., make sure you do your due diligence in maintaining them.

Have you experienced a tire blowout on your RV?

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  1. Douglas Powell says:

    I have actually had three blowouts with “China Bombs” ALL THREE were Westlake branded tires in two sizes so to say one mold is the issue probably is not true. The first was at night and I don’t know exactly when it happened. I replaced the tire and “armored the underside of the trailer above all wheels, with some galvanized sheet metal to prevent any subsequent issue from inflicting the damage caused by the steel belted cordage from acting like a chain saw and utterly destroying the underside of my RV. After the second blowout same trailer and minimal damage I replaced all four with US made tires. Then bought a 5th wheel with same tires. To be honest I didn’t want to fork out $1k on a new set of tires but I did do the galvanized metal as a preventative measure JUST IN CASE! True to historical experience with 3 years and probably 5k miles and at maybe 15mph I had another blowout same brand. Minimal damage s I was both going slow and had a really close place to get off the roadway and not on the interstate.

    You may get by using the “China Bombs” but in any case I recommend doing the sheet metal as just above your tires is a layer of weather/waterproof fabric generally a layer of insulation and then the wooden underpayment to your FLOOR! Your floor is an integral element to the structural and environmental integrity of your RV. IF and when you have a blowout you will be amazed at how much and how fast very expensive or labor intensive repairs can become. TRAVEL SAFE and with mental security/comfort as well!

  2. Barry says:

    Had Westlake on my 5th wheel and put almost 30000 kms on them without an issue. Drove to the arctic circle and back. Keep within their speed and weight ratings. I’ve been passed by many trucks and trailers well above the speed ratings. Can’t expect a rubber band to last when you repeatedly over stretch it. If you do have a multi axle trailer and have a flat and you drive a distance on it consider replacing the other tire on the same side as the flat. You just drove on a single tire at double it’s max weight rating. What distance makes it too far I don’t know

  3. Jeff says:

    You should have put this in BIG BOLD font – “…some RVers don’t properly maintain their tires, overload them, and exceed the speed rating. Any tire will fail under these circumstances, no matter where it was manufactured.” I see it all the time, RVers flying down the freeway, going way to fast and I personally know some people who think NOTHING of barreling down the freeway 80-90+ mph while pulling their trailers, and they do it all the time!! 65 is about as fast as I will go pulling my trailer.

  4. TIMOTHY William STITZEL says:

    “China bomb” tires are the cheapest ones the industry can put on a camper. I always noticed that my travel trailer “bounced” side to side. Before our 2nd year of camping, 2 of the tires had cracks on the sidewall. I replaced them with ones that have steel belts in the sidewall. No more bounce. $100 vs $20 China tires.

  5. While in southern Arizona many years ago, my utility trailer had a CB tire shred its entire tread and bend the aluminum fender into a pretzel making the spare tire change a real challenge along a 4 lane freeway having only 8 feet of road shoulder in which to work. Yup it was the drivers side tire that went south, making the tire swap a most dangerous situation as Semi trucks passed by 2 feet away at blistering speeds. Later we replaced BOTH tires with SP radial tires made by Kelly Springfield brand and have not had an issue since. Praise be to the angles that guided me that day as death was only inches away during that ordeal. Lesson learned!