Advice / Lifestyle

How to Change a Tire on a Tiny House

We’ve traveled over 22,000 miles with our tiny house on a road trip that stretches from the Florida Keys to the Arctic Circle! Of course, we hit a few bumps in the road, but we managed to not get a flat tire until we had about 14,000 miles under our belt. After that, it was a domino effect. We’ve changed three tiny house tires, and I think that qualifies us as experts! Read on for our tiny house flat tire stories and how we fixed them.

Tiny House trailer

Our Tiny House Trailer

We purchased one of the first Tumbleweed utility trailers back in 2013. Nowadays they sell like hotcakes. Our trailer came with special radial tires, meant to withstand the weight of our 10,000 pound tiny home. This article isn’t about our trailer, but I must say, we highly recommend the Tumbleweed trailer. And, we’ve really put it to the test!

We crashed our tiny home on our maiden voyage and, later, popped a weld on the famous bumpy Klondike Highway. Both times our trailer held up. In Dawson City, Yukon Territory, we took our tiny house in for some trailer maintenance (the aforementioned popped weld). The mechanic working on our trailer said he was VERY  impressed with the trailer’s design. That put our mind at ease. We still had 5,000 miles left to go on our journey!
Tiny House Flat Tire

Our First Tiny House Flat Tire

We had our first flat in Vancouver, British Columbia, when we drove over a nail. The tire was somewhat patchable, so we were able to temporarily patch and tow to the nearest tire repair shop. The mechanics at the shop were perplexed by our tiny house and had to use TWO trailer jacks to lift it! They also couldn’t fit the tiny house inside their shop, so they did they replaced the tire the parking lot. It took them less than an hour to lift, remove and replace the tire. We went to lunch and by the time we returned, they told us that dozens of people stopped by to see our tiny home.

Tiny House trailer Flat Tire

Before towing your Tiny House flat tire to nearest shop you should – 

  1. Call a Repair Shop Nearby. Not all auto mechanics have a jack that can lift a tiny house, but any large vehicle repair shop should. Choose the nearest tire shop, RV or Large Vehicle (semi-truck) repair shop. Make sure they have special trailer radial tires in stock.
  2. Explain your rig over the phone. Tell them the weight and dimensions of your tiny house so they can accommodate you.
  3. Drive slow. Although you’re hopefully not going far, be sure to drive slow and caustiously.

Our Second Tiny House Flat Tire

Our second flat was the most challenging. We decided to tow our tiny house down the famous Stampede Trail in Alaska, where adventurer Chris McCandless (from “Into the Wild”) died in 1992. Not our best idea. The dirt road is completely plagued with potholes and sharp rocks. Driving slow and cautiously, we inevitably had a teeny tiny rock pierce one of our worn trailer tires. And, to make matters worse, we were out in the middle of nowhere.

Tiny House trailer Flat Tire

How to Change a Tiny House Tire Yourself

Luckily, we had the Anderson Rapid Jack, or we might have been stranded. The Anderson Rapid Jack is a $47 portable, lightweight trailer jack that can lift your trailer up to 7 inches to suspend a flat tire. For our Alaska predicament, which was on unleveled ground, Guillaume drove onto a few planks of wood before using the Rapid Jack to give us a few extra inches of lift.

Tiny House trailer Flat Tire

Steps for using the Anderson Rapid Jack:

  1. Loosen the lug nuts on your flat tire while the wheel is still on the ground.
  2. Place the Rapid Jack under the good wheel on the same side of the wheel that needs to be changed.
  3. Slowly drive onto the Rapid Jack, which will lift one side of your trailer.
  4. Keep driving onto the Rapid Jack until the flat wheel is suspended.
  5. Adjust your scissor jacks and tongue jack for stability*
  6. Place a wheel chock under the Rapid Jack to secure it in place.

*DO NOT use the scissor jacks on your trailer to lift your house. They are meant for support only.

Tiny House trailer Flat Tire

Steps for changing a trailer tire:

Changing a trailer tire is very similar to changing a car tire.

  1. Loosen the lug nuts while the wheel is still on the ground.
  2. Lift the Tiny House using a trailer jack (see instructions above for Anderson Rapid Jack) just enough so that the flat wheel is hovering just over the ground.
  3. Remove the flat wheel and replace it with the good spare.
  4. Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can by hand, wiggling the new wheel in place.
  5. Lower the trailer back to the ground and tighten the lug nuts once more to the appropriate torque using the following sequence:
  6. wheel lug nut tightening pattern
  7. Drive a few dozen miles and re-torque the lug nuts to the right specification. Once that’s done, you are good to go.

Changing a flat tire on our tiny house tailer, in the middle of nowhere, felt like getting a graduate diploma from a Tiny House University. So, of course, we had a few celebratory beers afterwards.

Our Third Tiny House Flat Tire

Guillaume noticed that one of our tires was wearing out and needed to be changed, so our third flat wasn’t actually a flat. He changed the worn out tire in the REI parking lot in Salt Lake City, Utah. This particular tire had made it through 22,000 miles of rough roads with a heavy load. Using the Anderson Rapid Jack in a level paved parking lot was immensely easier than changing our flat on the Stampede Road.

With three trailer tires toast, we still have one original tire left on our trailer. We’re considering changing that tire out before our next road trip. In the meantime, we’ve had to change FIVE tires on the truck!

6 thoughts on “How to Change a Tire on a Tiny House

  1. Pingback: Tiny House Insurance. Policy Details and My Personal Experience

  2. BTW: Check into heavy duty retread tires. They’re less expensive, and legal for anywhere, except the steering axle. My charter bus (58,000 lbs) uses them, as do most of the other big rigs.

  3. What are you using for a tow vehicle for this monster?

    Best way to stretch tire mileage, as well as maintain safety, is to scrupulously maintain proper tire pressure. Use a tire bully stick to check tires every 4 to 8 hours, while on the road. When parked, get the tires off the ground. Cover them to protect from weather, or remove them from the vehicle. Store them in a place protected from the weather and temperature extremes. If they survive 10 years, recycle them, regardless of mileage or tread appearance/condition. They are no longer safe to use. Cheap insurance: Get new tires!

  4. Even accounting for the loads and the possibility that your pickup’s tires already had a fair amount of wear, you’re putting a lot of tires on that rig. You might do well to ask someone who hauls cars/camper trailers for a living what they do to make the tires last longer.

    My experience, for what it’s worth, is that the cheapest tire to put on my vehicles is a Michelin. It costs more up front, but you get it back because it simply lasts longer.

    • Tires on campers/tiny homes for the most part do not last any where near the mileage you can get out of your Michelin tires on a car or light truck, it comes from the load, the axles not being in alignment hitting the side walls on curbs and much more. If you look on any rving forum you will find to many people making this exact discussion. Happy Camping

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