Which RV Tires Are Considered “China Bombs”?

Have you ever heard of the term “China Bombs”? If you’ve been RVing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard another RVer complain about the “China Bombs” his RV manufacturer put on his brand new vehicle and how he unexpectedly blew a tire on the highway.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for many motorhome owners. Let’s take a look at these China bombs so you can avoid a dangerous accident or costly repairs. Let’s dive in!

What are China Bombs?

RV enthusiasts often refer to the standard tires installed by RV manufacturers as China bombs. Usually they are made by a foreign brand you don’t know and probably not made in the United States.

They are still rated ST, which means “specialty tire,” and are designed for heavy loads, but they don’t have the same quality as many tires from major brands like Goodyear and Cooper.

Where does the term “China bombs” come from?

Many RV enthusiasts assume that RV manufacturers source these cheap tires from China. Because they fail more often than higher quality American brand tires, RVers have nicknamed these standard tires “China Bombs.”

Punctures are more common with manufacturer-supplied tires than with Michelin or Bridgestone tires. And they happen unnoticed. You don’t see any signs of wear or decreasing tire pressure. It’s like a bomb exploding under your RV.

This is also why many RV owners change their tires immediately after purchasing an RV. They don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road right at the beginning of their vacation.

They also don’t want to deal with insurance or a large repair bill. It’s worth paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars up front to avoid the inconvenience and expense of having your China Bomb tires fail.

Which RV tires are considered China bombs?

China bombs will not have a brand name you recognize. They may not be made in China, but they are not made in the United States either. If you see “Made in China” on the sidewall of your RV tires, consider replacing them with higher quality brand name tires made in the United States or by a premium manufacturer.

You’ve spent a lot of money on your RV. You don’t want to take on damage from blown tires because you don’t want to spend even more money on new tires.

You also don’t want to cause an accident because parts of the tire blew into another lane of the highway. Tire blowouts can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

What are good brands for RV tires?

Goodyear, Michelin, Cooper, Bridgestone and Continental are some of the top tire brands you can rely on. However, these companies have plants and headquarters outside of the United States.

For example, Bridgestone is a Japanese company and Michelin is a French company. Goodyear and Cooper are the only two tires truly made in the U.S., but if you choose one of the top brands, you can make sure that everyone else on the roads is safer.

Where can you buy RV tires?

You can buy RV tires at numerous places. Walmart, Costco, Camping World and other large chains sell tires that are suitable for heavy loads.

You can also go directly to a brand’s website and select “Find a Dealer” to find stores that carry that brand. Stores that work on large vehicles like dump trucks and semi-trucks also carry tires that are suitable for heavy loads.

Make sure you know what load capacity you need. You need enough tires to support the weight of your RV. Also, find out the maximum allowable speed for the tires you are putting on. If the speed limit is 65 miles per hour, always stick to that speed.

Most RV tires from the leading brands are rated for speeds over 70 miles per hour. That doesn’t mean you should go that fast on the highway, but you don’t have to worry as much about staying under a certain speed to avoid a flat tire.

Pro Tip: Before you buy your next set of RV tires, check out our ultimate RV tire guide

Tips for proper maintenance of your RV tires

No matter what brand of tires you have – China bomb tires or not – you can’t prevent flat tires 100% of the time. But you can perform important maintenance tasks to properly care for your RV tires. By following these tips, you’ll reduce the likelihood of a tire problem.

Use a tire pressure monitoring system

A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) lets you monitor your tire pressure and temperature. You can keep an eye on these values when you are driving on the highway.

If one tire is much lower or hotter than the others, stop and check it. If a tire is leaking, the TPMS should detect it and warn you before it blows.

Like most products, however, these systems are not 100% accurate. But you are better off with a system than without.

A man checks the tire pressure of his motor home on the side of the road

Do not overload your motorhome

Many flat tires occur because the RV owner overloads the RV. This is not the fault of the tires, China bombs or not. Always stay under the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the motorhome.

The axles, frame and tires can only support a certain amount of weight. You put yourself at risk if you overload your vehicle.

Even if you stay under the gross vehicle weight rating, you should distribute your weight from side to side and front to back. If you have 10,000 pounds on the left side and only 7,000 pounds on the right side, you are putting a lot of stress on the left side tires. Try to distribute the weight as evenly as possible across the RV.

Drive a safe speed limit

As mentioned earlier, tires are only designed for certain speeds. China Bomb tires are notorious for only being rated for 65 miles per hour.

If you drive at 65 miles per hour for an extended period of time, you will exceed the maximum speed limit, which can lead to premature wear or a dangerous flat tire due to increased tire pressure.

Higher quality tires from Goodyear or Cooper offer a higher speed rating, so you can feel much safer driving at 65 MPH for an entire day.

Choose the right load rating

Before purchasing RV tires, you must weigh your RV and note the gross vehicle weight rating. Tires have specific load ratings. For example, if your RV has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds, you’ll want a tire rated for more than that weight.

Your tire size may be the same as a trailer that weighs only 8,000 pounds, but the load rating must be higher.

For example, a load rating of F means the tire can carry up to 3,960 pounds. If you have a two-axle trailer, it can have a maximum load capacity of about 16,000 pounds.

Your gross vehicle weight rating should be at least 20% less than 16,000 pounds to be safe to drive. If you have a fifth wheel that weighs 16,000 pounds, you should select a load rating of G for your RV tires.

Remember: You should never drive with a flat tire, but what actually happens if you do drive with a flat tire?

An RV China bomb tire is replaced

Inspect RV tires frequently

Whether your RV tires are China bombs or not, you should inspect them regularly. This means you should look for signs of wear or items that may have become lodged and check the lug nuts.

If you notice a loss of tread depth or uneven tire wear, you should buy new tires. If your tires are cracked, that’s a sign of dry rot, and you should replace them immediately. This can happen if you have not changed your RV’s tires in many years or if you have stored your RV for a long time.

Replace motorhome tires every 5 years

You should replace your RV tires at least every five years. However, this number depends on the number of miles you drive.

Full-time travelers will likely replace tires sooner. Weekend travelers may take longer. Finally, always look at the date code when buying new tires. Even if they are new, they may still be a year old.

A motorhome tire is replaced

Always use tire covers when parking

If you’re parked for more than a weekend, you need tire covers. These covers prevent sun damage. UV light hits your tires and causes them to crack, which leads to a slow loss of air. So always use tire covers if you are staying in one place for a week or more or storing your RV.

Don’t save money with low quality China bombs, go for safety

Everyone has a certain budget. But don’t try to save a few bucks on tires. It’s worth spending more money on quality tires than risking the dangers of cheap China bombs.

You may be one of the lucky ones who never experiences a flat tire. But is the initial money saved worth the inconvenience and expense incurred later? Or worse, is saving money worth the risk of a potential accident due to a flat tire?

Regardless of the brand of tire you buy, you should always keep track of maintenance. Keep a diary to record tire changes and inspection dates. And start saving money for the replacement tires you’ll eventually need.

Have you ever had a tire blow out?

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