Can You Patch or Plug a Travel Trailer Tire?

Travel trailers are a popular form of non-motorized recreational vehicle. Unlike a standard RV, which is propelled by its own motor and steering column, travel trailers are typically pulled from one location to the next using a pickup truck or other suitable vehicle. Travel trailers are sometimes referred to as ‘bumper-pulls’, ‘pull behinds’, and a slew of other nicknames. In general, travel trailers are easy to spot due to their size and location behind another vehicle. However, there are several distinct varieties of travel trailers that provide a host of advantages to a standard recreational vehicle.

Like an RV or other large wheeled vehicle or vehicle attachment, the main weakness to a travel trailer is wheel and tire damage. Since these vehicles are consistently on the road for hundreds of miles while they are towed during long road trips, the likelihood of them picking up a loose nail or screw in one of their tires is high.

Many times, tires on travel trailers are overlooked and not kept up properly.

Can you Patch a Travel Trailer Tire?

If you are in a bind in the middle of nowhere, you can patch a travel trailer tire. Typically, it is not recommended unless you are a professional as a bad patch job can lead to a blowout down the road and can cause harm to yourself and others. When you can, always have a professional repair your tires.

Can You Plug a Travel Trailer Tire?

You can plug your own travel trailer tire in a bind, but typically it is only recommended that professionals work on tires as if you repair it wrong you can cause a dangerous situation if you have a blowout. Always have your tires checked by a reputable shop if you have to fix them.

Reasons Why You Wouldn’t Want to Patch or Plug a Travel Trailer Tire

There are several reasons why you will not want to patch or plug a damaged travel trailer tire. The most concerning reasons not to are:

  • An improper repair to your travel trailer tire could lead to a blow out later down the road
  • An improper repair to your travel trailer tire could void its warranty
  • An improper repair to your travel trailer tire will not seal both the inside and outside of the tire

These three reasons are all concerning in their own way and do their part to highlight the inconsistencies between improper and proper tire repair.

Several tire companies including Goodyear and Bridgestone actually list improper tire repair as a direct reason to void a tire warranty. This inclusion of improper repair in a tire’s warranty means that if you try to repair the tire yourself, a licensed mechanic will not be able to repair the tire professionally in coordination with the tire’s warranty.

Improper Tire Repair on your Travel Trailer

Improper tire repair is defined as any tire repair procedure that does not follow the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s protocol and guidelines for repairing a tire. The RMA sets the standard for tire repair and consistently states that plugs, patches, and other roadside repairs to a tire are not up to the manufacturer’s specifications. Therefore, even if you follow all of the guidelines to patching or plugging a tire it is likely that your patch or plug will fail miles down the road, and almost certain that these repairs will void a manufacturer’s warranty.

Despite the RMA guidelines for proper tire repair, everyday individuals apply patches and plugs to all sorts of tires, which may hold up or be suitable if the tire is on a work vehicle, farm machinery, or another type of vehicle that does not travel long distances consistently. However, in the case of a travel trailer tire, applying a plug or patch yourself is almost always a bad idea, because you already know that the travel trailer will be making another long voyage in the future.

Proper Tire Repair for your Travel Trailer

Unlike improper tire repairs, proper tire repair follows all of the RMA guidelines for repairing a tire and will maintain the manufacturer’s warranty associated with the tire. A proper tire repair consists of applying a patch to the inside of the damaged area on the tire and applying a filler substance to the hole from the outside. At a licensed tire repair shop, the filler applied to damaged tires is very different from a push in plug. At the shop, the damaged area is first drilled out and then paired with a corresponding sized insert. It is also likely that the tire shop will use a ‘patch insert’ which connects the interior patch and the exterior applied insert to maximize the tire’s repair.

When all of the above procedures are followed and installed properly the repaired tire is said to be ‘industry approved’, ‘industry accepted’, or ‘RMA accepted”. It is also better to have a travel trailer tire repaired to industry standards. Most likely this will mean taking the damaged tire to a tire repair shop and having a licensed professional complete the repairs.

ImproperQuicker, inexpensiveWill not hold up forever, unsafe, could void tire warranty
ProperSafe, secure, maintains tire warrantyMore expensive, time consuming

The Best Way to Repair a Travel Trailer Tire

Of course tire damage almost always occurs at the most inopportune time and likely miles from a licensed repair shop, so you are likely asking yourself what can you do if your travel trailer receives tire damage. The best procedure to follow, after realizing your travel trailer tire has been damaged, is to jack your trailer up and properly install a spare tire. If you have dual axles, this model is great. Using this spare tire you can then take yourself to a licensed repair shop where the damaged tire can be repaired and re-installed onto your travel trailer.

For situations like the one described above, it is always a good idea to pack a jack and the other materials needed to install a spare tire on the side of the road. You can also be more prepared for what to do in the event of tire damage by familiarizing yourself with the operation of your jack and the other tire installation materials. You never can be sure when or where your travel trailer is going to pick up a loose nail or screw in one of its tires.

Keep Yourself Safe on the Road!

Travel trailers are a great investment for those looking to hit the road for days or weeks or even months or years at a time. When checking your travel trailer tires always remember to check and adjust the pressure in your spare so you don’t get caught with an improperly inflated tire in an emergency.

They are a great alternative to a standard recreation vehicle and do not cost nearly as much. However, like a standard RV, they are still vulnerable to tire and wheel damage. In the event your travel trailer receives damage to one of its tires it is always best to install a spare tire and take the damaged tire to a licensed repair shop. The repair shop will be able to repair the tire following RMA guidelines keeping you safe on the road and adhering to your tires manufacturer’s warranty.

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