You’ve probably noticed that some people use tire covers on their RVs. Whether the RVs are stored for the winter or parked long-term at a campsite, they're a pretty common sight. So what's the point of using tire covers? And should you use them? Let's take a look at the benefits of covering your RV's tires and how to make your own covers to save money!
Why Tire Covers For Your RV
So what’s the point of tire covers? What do my tires have to be protected from? Vandals? Dirt? Am I supposed to drive with them on? And how much protection could tire covers really offer? We've heard them all, so let's talk about it!
The idea of covering tires baffles people at times! Why in the world would people spend money to cover heavy duty tires that are made to withstand the harsh conditions of our country's highways and back country roads? Well, while your RV sits in storage or at the campground, there’s a menacing force at work on your tires and you probably don’t even know it. It’s the sun. Yes, you heard right! The sun, even in the winter, can ravage your tires and leave them cracked and dried out.
When the sun beats down on your RV's tires, dry rot can start to set in. The results of dry rot, which is the drying out of the tire's rubber, includes weakening and cracking. This means they’re not going to hold up as long. Tiny cracks will form in the rubber, making the possibility of a blowout all too common. Sometimes you can see dry rot. The tire will be faded in color and you’ll see tiny cracks all over the sidewall. But usually if you can see it, it’s beyond the point of repair. These cracks start out as microscopic, so they can start to form right under your nose.
So how do you keep your tires in tip-top shape and avoid dry rot? That's where tire covers come in! Whenever your RV is parked for more than a few days, put tire covers over them to keep them shaded from the sun. You can either purchase tire covers in stores or online, or you can easily make your own to save some money. Since we love saving money, we made our own! Here's how we made ours!
DIY Tire Covers
To keep harmful UV rays off of your RV's tires, you'll need to purchase some marine-grade fabric that is meant to withstand the harsh rays of the sun. So grab your tools, a sewing machine, and some elbow grease, and let's get to it!
Flexible measuring tape
A thin nail
String that is not stretchy or flexible
A fabric marker or pencil
A piece of plywood
Marine grade fabric (if you take your measurements to the store they can help you figure out how much to buy)
Extra-wide double-fold biase tape
Step 1 | Measure Your Tires
Find the diameter of the tire first. Then measure the diameter of the center hub. Next, measure the width of the tread from front to back. Lastly, find out the circumference of the tire. This is where you need the flexible measuring tape. Start where the tire touches the ground, and measure around the outer edge, over to the other side where it touches the ground. Add one inch to all your measurements for seam allowance and hems.
Step 2 | Cut the Fabric
Now it’s time to cut your fabric into pieces. You will need three (3) pieces for each tire. To start, lay your fabric out on a piece of plywood. Divide the tire diameter by two. Measure out your string so that it’s long enough to reach that distance and also be attached to a nail and your marker or pencil.
To make your first piece, drive the nail through the fabric and into the plywood about where the center of a circle the size of your tire can be cut out. Attach your string to this nail and use it to draw a perfect circle around the fabric. Now make a second one, but leave the nail in it. Now you need to take the measurement you got for the hub diameter and divide it by two. Shorten your string to allow you to reach that far with the marker and make a smaller circle inside the second piece. Measure up from the bottom of both pieces around 1” and then cut a horizontal line across the bottom. This will keep the fabric from hanging on the ground where the wheel touches it.
Finally, you need to measure out a piece that is a rectangle using the width of the tire and the length of the circumference you measured. Cut the pieces out of the fabric, using a heated knife if possible so the fabric doesn’t fray. Cut the center hole out of the second circle you made. Then cut a straight line from that center hole all the way down one side of the circle so that it has a slit.
Step 3 | Assembly
With your sewing machine, sew a ½” hem across the 1” edge you made on the circles, as well as on the short ends of the rectangle. The rest of the edges will be sewn together so you won’t need to worry about them.
Line the slit you made and the inner circle in the second circle piece you made with the biase tape to keep it from fraying. This will give it a nice edge without having to make a hem. Making a hem here would shorten the fabric and it would no longer be the right size.
Fold each of the large circle pieces in half (the one with the slit you’ll fold along the slit) so that you can mark the top center. Do the same with the large rectangle piece. This will allow you to line the pieces up well and keep them in the proper position.
Now we're ready to start sewing. Let's start with the large circle that doesn’t have the slit and hole in it. Line up the line you made on the circle and the rectangle with the right sides of the fabric together. Start sewing these pieces together, using a ½” seam. Return to the center and do the second side. Next sew the second circle onto the other side of the rectangle using the same method as with the first. Make sure to fold and run a ½” seam down any remaining raw edges.
You just made your very own wheel cover that fits over the wheel with an opening in the back for the axle. This custom cover will not only help to keep the sun off your tires, but it will keep damaging ozone and oxygen off as well.