Did you know that trailer tires are not the same as vehicle tires? It may be tempting to put car tires on your trailer, but it is not a good idea because trailer tires are constructed to address the unique requirements of a trailer. Keep in mind using the right tires applies to all trailers, not just boat trailers.
You may be asking yourself, “What is so different about trailer tires and why should I use them on my trailer instead of normal car tires?” We will use the rest of this article to highlight the unique features of trailer tires.
Have you ever been towing a trailer and made a turn that resulted in scrubbing the trailer tires on a curb? This happens a lot. Fortunately, trailer tires are constructed with thicker sidewalls to deal with the extra abuse. Thicker walls also allow these tires to carry a heavier load than car tires of a similar size. Additionally, they provide stability that keeps the trailer from swaying back and forth as you drive down the road.
Another thing that we should keep in mind is that the construction of a car or truck is different than that of a trailer, especially in terms of dynamic load. The tire design accounts for these differences. Putting regular vehicle tires on a trailer results in tires that are not designed to handle the road stresses they will endure. The consequences could be the tread wearing unevenly or the tire overheating. This stress could eventually lead to a blowout.
So how do you tell if a tire is a trailer tire or a vehicle tire? All tires have a type and size code on the side of the tire. The first part of the code indicates the type of tire. This is followed by a number that indicates the width in millimeters. The next number indicates the sidewall height in terms of percentage of width. The last number is the rim size. If there is an R before the last number, it is a radial tire. Radial tires dissipate heat in a way that allows them to travel at higher speeds for greater distances.
If the code starts with a P, then it is a passenger car tire. Example: P265/50R20. These tires are typically used on passenger cars, minivans, and SUVs.
If the code starts with an LT, it is designed for light trucks. Example: LT235/75R15. These tires are typically used on vehicles that carry heavy loads like full sized vans, heavy duty pickup trucks and full-sized SUVs.
If your tire’s code starts with ST, it is designed for trailers (ST stands for Special Trailer). Example: ST175/80R13. These are the tires that are meant for trailer use.
Make sure that your trailer has the right rubber to hit the road this summer. Your road trips will be a bit more pleasant and safe.