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The 2021 camping season is almost coming to an end and so far, we have only camped twice (!!!!). Yes, we were shocked as well when we realized this. What is the point of having an RV, keeping it camp ready 20 minutes from home and not using it?
So I decided that we need to take the RV out again and booked a site at the Lake Hartwell State Park just across the South Carolina border with Georgia. It sounded like the rest of the family wanted to join too and even Simon wanted to drive up from Statesboro. This could just be a fun family weekend.
Starting the Weekend Early
With Pieter off from work and me being able to work remotely, we set out during my lunch break on Thursday to drive the “quick” 90 minutes to our campsite for the weekend. Once there, we will quickly get set up and I can resume working, hopefully with a view, for the rest of the afternoon or at least until David and Ilse arrives. Everything was going well (if a bit slower due to some road construction) until we heard a “pop” sound. Pieter immediately thought of a tire blowout and started looking for a spot to pull off the highway after slowing down. But this stretch of the highway didn’t have any room to pull over, so without any other choice, we continued the 1-mile drive to the next highway exit. I googled and there is a gas station right there where we can pull in and change the tire.
At a snail’s pace, we reached the turn-off and while making the right hand turn, I leaned out the window to confirm what we knew we were dealing with: the back right tire was completely flat. As I was looking out the window, Pieter took the turn to the gas station and we heard a second “pop” sound. Yep, the weight on that side of the RV in the turn was just too much for the remaining tire and it too gave up and blew out.
How Many Spare Tires do you have for the RV?
And just like that, the situation went from bad to worse. We only have one spare, but were now looking at having to replace two tires. We needed help. I got back on my phone to find tire places and Pieter started calling everyone in that area that could possibly come and assist with supplying and installing two tires. Nothing. Nobody was able to come and help us. Our “paid for” roadside assist plan could send someone, but they will be coming from Atlanta and will make it to us much, much later in the afternoon. So back to the drawing board. The first problem was that we didn’t have the proper tools to raise the RV and take off the ruined tires. So Pieter unhooked the truck and left to go find some tools along with two RV tires. I decided to stay behind and get some work done at the local Subway. That way, I can also keep an eye on our deflated mess.
It took a while, but Pieter came back with new jacks that could handle the considerable RV weight and allow us to remove the old tires. Of course, while colder weather was expected for this weekend originally, it turned out to be a very warm day in Georgia, and our two ruined tires were on the sunny side of the RV. I can only help so much, so Pieter got everything jacked up and removed mostly by himself, in the hot sun, on the hot pavement.
The next step was to take the old tires and the new tires to a store so they could fit them on the rims. So off he went again and I was left to “guard” the RV. Not that anyone could really do anything with it or go anywhere with it… But still. By now the sun was beating down and I just gave up and sat down in the shade of the RV, right next to the busy road. I would get up as much as possible and walk around, just to check on everything, but basically, I just sat around waiting for Pieter to come back.
When he finally did, it didn’t take too long to fit the new tires, lower the RV and hook everything back up. We were both very relieved to get back in the air-conditioned truck and back on the road. Of course, as soon as we turned onto the highway, we caught a glimpse of David and Ilse coming to look for us. A quick phone call and they were instructed to follow us (at a safe distance) and keep an eye on those tires.
Camping – Finally!
We finally made it to the state park and our campsite much, much later than anticipated, but at least in one piece. The site itself was a bit of a letdown. No view of the water, and mostly dirt and rocks around the area. And very close to the other camper, who was also busy changing all his RV tires (!!). But, without any other sites that could accommodate our larger RV, we just had to make do.
Simon drove up Friday afternoon and had to relive the drama of the previous day. The weekend really was about relaxing and of course, the food. We usually decide beforehand on our menu, and since we were two families on this trip, split the shopping and throw everything together again for dinner time. Pieter and Simon spent some time down at the lake fishing and David used his drone to get some nice footage of the lake at sunset. Lake Hartwell is really stunning. You can view the video here. The rest of us played Uno, read our books, took walks and napped.
Will the Remaining Tires Hold? No. No, They Won’t.
All too soon, it was Sunday morning and time to pack up and head back home. It didn’t take too long to get back on the road and to be on the safe side, we asked David and Ilse to again follow behind our RV “just in case”. All four tires were bought at the same time and were in the same condition, so we were a little bit concerned.
Well, since this was the weekend of tire blowouts, it didn’t take too long to have tire blowout #3. Not too far from where we spent our Thursday afternoon either. This time, we had room to pull off the highway and with all the tools at hand, Pieter was able to raise the RV, remove the flat tire and replace it with our spare. Not a task for the faint-hearted, since this was on the traffic side and people were just flying by much too close.
I really cannot take this type of stress driving, that is for sure. We had an hour to go and decided to take the RV directly to the storage facility and get it tucked away as soon as possible. I counted down the minutes while nervously checking the mirrors constantly. Being Sunday, and without a spare, tire #4 really had to hold! With our entourage in tow, we made it there without any more incidents and I could calmly breathe again.
Did We Learn Something?
Yes, indeed we did. Just because you haven’t used the RV much and the tires didn’t have a lot of miles on them, didn’t mean they will stay in great shape. Even though we checked that they were inflated properly, we didn’t take into account the wear and tear from storage. Check for that as well and rather replace tires BEFORE you leave your house or storage facility.
We did order two more tires from Amazon and Pieter replaced the remaining tires as well that same week. While the camping trip did not go as planned, at least now we had brand new tires, proper tools for replacing an RV tire, and as a bonus, restored confidence in towing the RV to the next campsite. And that last part, trust me, is priceless.
By the way, I did adjust our Initial Setup List to also include proper tools needed when changing a tire:
- Hydraulic Bottle Jack: https://amzn.to/3IfiaYF
- Steel Jack Stands: https://amzn.to/34WUHgv
- Lug Wrench: https://amzn.to/3H8OdrD