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.
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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Friday 18th of February 2022
Replaced the Trailer King tires (only about 500 miles on them) before the first cross country trip with Goodyear Endurance but kept the spare. Within 12 months, the spare tire literally exploded while on the back of the trailer blowing a hole in the tire cover as well. This tire had never been on the ground, still had the new tire sticker on it, and was checked before every drive just like the Goodyears. Now have an Endurance for a spare.
Thursday 18th of November 2021
Not just the tires, watch out for inferior valve stems.
Friday 12th of November 2021
I have a 2018 5th wheel camper with approximately 4000 miles on original tires. Went on trip from Florida to AZ And had a blowout with my Chinese Bombs- checked tires before I left home, tires had deep tread pressure was right on and still blew out Replaced all 4 tires at next stop with Goodyear endurance. If u have Chinese Bombs on your RV get rid of them ASAP.
Tuesday 21st of September 2021
Blew two Westlake 10 plys three weeks apart. In both cases the tires lost all tred. Tires were three years old. The second blowout damaged the rig. Have replaced all five tires with 14 ply.
Saturday 4th of September 2021
I'd have to ask my dad, but he had one of these chinese POS' pop on him on the highway a few years back. I didnt ask the speed, but it did about $2000 worth of damage as it ripped the wheel housing apart, I believe some other parts as well. It was a high end Jayco trailer, one year old, no crazy weight, probably didn't even have water in it since he usually parks at improved facilities. I doubt he was exceeding 70mph as that's our highest speed limit.
He took the trailer tires in and the tire shop instantly saw that another had a bulge in it (I assume a broken belt?) that was an imminent failure as well.
There should be class action lawsuits against these tire manufacturers and maybe the manufacturers of the trailers that are installing them. He's lazy, he at ate the $2000+ repair bill ( I don't think the cost of new tires was factored into that, but may have been) The consumer obviously doesn't have a choice if these are what are coming installed, and in no way, shape or form should MULTIPLE one year old tires be failing. Any product that is defective, the manufacturers are liable. The chinese business model is not to make high quality products. They only change or improve them when they are hammered for making junk. The consumer needs to hold them liable.