How to Choose a Trailer Tire

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Selecting the correct trailer tire is a serious matter. The improper tire can be a safety hazard and have an adverse effect on the life of the tire, the load capacity of the trailer and the trailer itself.

  • Look for the size marking on the side of the old tire. It should have the letters ST or other indication that it is for trailer use only. The size will be a series of numbers, and may contain letters as well. An example of a small trailer tire would be 480x8, a larger tire example would be C78-13 0r ST205/75/14.

  • Avoid the temptation to use bigger tires. Using a larger tire may require adjustments in tongue height to keep the trailer at the proper angle when loaded. The size recommended for the trailer is determined when the trailer is engineered and is the best size for that trailer and load capacity.

  • Determine the load range of the original tire and buy your new tire with the same load designation. This information will be on the side of the tire. In general, the load capacity of the tire, which is indicated by the load range, should exceed ½ the axle rating plus 20 percent. For a 2000 pound axle, a tire load rated for more than 1400 pounds should be used.

  • Match tire types. If the tire on the other side of the trailer, or all the other tires on a double axle trailer, are bias ply, buy a bias ply replacement tire. If the other tire is a radial, replacement tires should also be radial construction.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never use passenger car or light truck tires on a trailer. These tires are engineered for a smoother ride, sacrificing some load capacity to do so. These tires have much softer sidewalls allowing more flex, which can cause overheating of the tire when used on a loaded trailer.

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