“China Bomb” RV Tires

RV manufacturers often install the cheapest tires they can find on new RV builds. We had heard the horror stories of blowouts happening to factory installed “China bomb” RV tires. In this post we upgrade our RV tires and narrowly avoid a blowout!

When we purchased our Forest River Sabre 36BBHQ we were underwhelmed with the CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity) of the rig. In factory configuration the RV is only rated to carry 2,472 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but it goes quickly. Even though we only have 49 gallons of fresh water capacity, a full fresh tank is ~400 pounds of weight. This leaves just 2,000 pounds for food, clothes, tools, etc, and that assumes empty waste tanks.

Forest River Sabre 36BHQ Weights
Source: https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/fifth-wheels/sabre/36BHQ/3192

Each Forest River RV is weighed at the manufacturing facility prior to shipping. A label identifying the unloaded vehicle weight of the actual unit and the cargo carrying capacity is applied to every Forest River RV prior to leaving our facilities.


According to the sticker installed at the factory, the RV must not be loaded heavier than 2785 pounds.

To confuse the matter further, there is another sticker which indicates that each axle is rated at 6160 pounds.

This confused us as we had eight lug axles, which usually indicates at least a 7,000 pound axle. A quick check under the rig indicates that it does indeed have two Lippert 7,000 pound axles under it.

We emailed Forest River’s service department to determine why there was an 1800 pound discrepancy between the stickers on the side of the RV and the equipment installed under it. This is the response we received from Chad Cook, Forest River’s service contact:

A simple way to answer your question is that the tires we install during manufacturing is what is keeping the axles from holding their potential capacity listed on the axles. Yes if you upgrade the tires so they are rated 7000lb or more capacity, you can utilize the 7000lb capacity of the axles. Thanks

Chad Cook
Sabre Warranty & Owner Relations

We had always planned to upgrade the tires on the RV so that we could take advantage of the extra ~1800 pounds of carry capacity, but we assumed that we had plenty of time to schedule the upgrade.

Then we met another full time family at Patton Pond in Ellsworth, Maine. They told us of their experience with the two blow outs (on two different RVs!) that they had endured in less than a year of being on the road. We discussed our RV, and that it still had the factory tires installed. The tires installed at the factory were rated at 3500 pounds (load range E) each at 80PSI cold, which is where we had been running them. When we weighed the rig at launch we were still under the 6160 pounds per axle, but talking with this family made us decide to get the tires replaced sooner than later.

It’s a good thing that we did.

Tire with a bulge in the sidewall - this is why people call them China Bomb RV Tires
Bulges in the sidewall are never a good thing

This is one of two tires that had bulges in the sidewall. This is a blowout waiting for an opportunity. We probably would have lost this tire on the next move day.

Enter the appropriately named Necessary Auto Sales & Tires in Kennebunk, Maine.

They not only had the necessary tires for our RV – and they were necessary – they even opened the shop on Sunday to install the tires during our move day. If you are ever in the Kennebunk, Maine area and in need of tires, give Bob and Carrol at Necessary Auto Sales & Tires a call.

We bought four “G” rated 14 ply “Trailer King” tires rated at over 4000 pounds per tire @ 110 PSI cold. These tires also come from China (most if not all tires do in 2022), but they are made to more exacting QA standards than the “Castle Rock” brand tires installed on most RVs at the factory. Any tire can fail, but we do not feel like we are just waiting for the inevitable blow out after having the new tires installed.

UPDATE: We have had several people ask us how we know that our wheels are rated for these higher pressure tires and the weight they can carry. We answer these questions with the following pictures. RV wheels typically have the PSI rating as well as their weight capacity cast into the back side of the wheel itself. Ours are rated for 110PSI and 4080 pounds per wheel. The wheels are capable of carrying more than the axles are rated for, so we feel like we are well within the limits of tires, wheels and axles.

The RV manufacturers seem to think it is perfectly fine to install these cheap “China bomb” RV tires to save a few dollars per unit. They apparently do not care if the tires blow out causing damage to life and property.

We feel differently. Tires are probably the single most important safety device installed on your RV and truck. This is not the place to go cheap. The manufacturers can and should do better.

#rvlife #chinabomb #forestriver #sabre #36BHQ


  • sam

    Sam has lived many lives in his years on planet Earth. With a background heavy equipment repair, construction, home remodeling, permaculture farming, computer programming, 3d printing and so much more, Sam knows how to do many things. One of those things is writing. Sam gained his writing ability through reading. Much of Sam's reading centers around history, philosophy, psychology, religion, spirituality, the occult, alchemy and tarot. Sam is an ordained minister. Sam holds certifications in CBT, RBT, Mindfullness and other fields of study. Sam is also a certified hypnosis practitioner, and certified master Reiki practitioner. Sam's current book project is a simple to follow guide to building an off-grid capable fifth wheel.

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  1. This should be required reading for all RV’ers. Well done!

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