When you buy a trailer for the first time, you may be surprised to hear that they cannot use just any old tire. There are different categories for tires depending on the purpose of the tire. You have to know the codes to get the right one for your trailer.
Yes, travel trailer tires are different from other tire models. That is because travel trailers can weigh a lot and they need stronger tires that can carry more weight. Passenger car tires do not have to carry the same amount of weight so their tires are not as strong as travel trailer tires.
To learn more about travel trailer tires, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can buy the best tires available for your new travel trailer. Take a few minutes to get this important information.
Yes, these tires are a little bit different from light trucks, passenger cars, and even SUV tires, to name a few. Travel trailer tires get their own tire category and it is labeled ST or special trailer.
The reason why travel trailer tires are different is because they have to carry heavy loads long distances at times. We are not talking about the 1000 pounds you put in your passenger car.
Travel trailer tires have to not only carry the trailer weight but also the cargo weight it is designed to carry. These trailers will weigh from 2000 +/- pounds to approximately 12,000 to 15,000 pounds if not more.
The size of the trailer will determine the weight. Passenger and light truck tires are usually no match for a 10,000-pound trailer plus cargo weight. That means that once vacationing in trailers became popular, and the designs of those trailers changed over the years, tire makers had to create a brand new type of tire for the situation.
The construction of the tire does go through the same process that all other tires go through but the specs for the ST tires are a little different and they get improvements other tires do not get.
We do not want to offend anyone but there are several reasons why this takes place. Sometimes it is where they are manufactured and sometimes it is human error. Here are some of the reasons why travel trailers fail so often:
1. Made in China- these tires are called China Bombs because they were not made by any reputable Chinese tire-making company. There are a couple of these in that country and they produce some very good tires.
However, there are far more Chinese tire-making companies that just slap the rubber together and send them out to be sold. The production uses inferior methods, materials, and little to no quality control.
There are lots of horror stories talked about on the different RV discussion forum websites that back these statements up.
2. Human error- let’s face it, some trailer owners or users do not know how to pack a trailer or they want to bring everything including the kitchen sink along on their vacation.
What this means is that they overload the trailer and the tire's load capacity which in turn helps the tires to fail. These failures, like the China Bombs, can happen at any time. And at the worst possible moment.
3. Human error 2- there are those trailer owners who may have been fed misinformation or do not know how to inflate a tire. They do not look on the sidewall and keep adding air even though they have passed the maximum PSI long before.
Or the same type of trailer owners under-inflate their tires. They also have misinformation and follow that instead of true tire guidelines. Both situations help destroy the tire and have them failing frequently.
4. Rough roads & debris- again people are not thinking about their tires when they go on vacation. They are thinking about where they are going to camp and pay no attention to the type of roads that get them to that destination.
Rough roads can play havoc with trailer tires especially when the above tire situations are involved. Then, there is the debris that litters the different highways and other roads trailers are taken down.
It is hard to see broken glass, nails, or other sharp objects on many road surfaces. Or if those items are spotted it may be at the last minute and the driver cannot miss that debris.
It happens through no fault of the driver and even good tires just do not survive these driving conditions.
5. You got a lemon- even the best tire-making companies are not perfect nor do they put out perfect tires all the time. Something went wrong with the production and quality control did not catch the bad tire and unfortunately, someone bought it.
These lemons will also blow at the wrong time and can ruin your vacation. The trouble is you won’t know you bought a lemon until after the tire fails long before its lifetime and the warranty is up.
Like cars and trucks, trailer tires come in 2 types. There is the radial tire option and the bias ply tire option. There is a lot of difference between these two types of tires.
You have probably heard the term steel belted radial tires. That is true as tire makers put steel belts at 90-degree angles to the tread center line. This enables the tires to remain cooler, grip the road better, have more flexibility, and stability as well as protect the tread from wear and tear.
Also, the steel belts help protect the trailer tire from flat spots developing when the trailer is stored for a long time. While this type of tire is better than bias tires, they are more expensive.
The bias tires or bias ply tires if you are older, do not come with steel belts making them cheaper than the radial tires. Their sidewalls are less flexible but that condition makes them better for off-road driving.
The bias tire can also handle more weight than the radial tire making them ideal for trailers with high weight capacities. However, these tires do not last as long as radial tires and you may be lucky to get 12,000 or 14,000 miles out of them.
You may be saving money over buying radial tires initially but in the long run, you may be paying more. That would be due to the fact you have to buy more bias tires than radial ones.
There are several factors involved here and both brand and price play a minor role in choosing the right trailer tire. One of the major factors will be the purpose of the tires.
The amount of weight they are to carry is one important piece of information. You may be able to save money and buy a cheaper tire with less ply but that may also mean you get to carry less weight.
The tire has to have the load range rating to comfortably haul the weight you want to move to another location. Another major factor will be ply and that word simply refers to layers.
At least it did in the early to late 90s before technology upgraded the tire-making process. Now the word ply means the strength of so many layers. If you buy a tire advertised as 10-ply, you are not getting ten layers of rubber or other material inside the tire.
What you are getting is the strength of a 10-layered tire and that is a big difference. You won’t have ten layers but the layers you do get equal to the strength that comes with a 10 layered tire.
Some tires with lower ply ratings can carry more weight than a tire with a higher ply rating. That is because they are so strong, that their load weight capacity will be higher than the higher ply tire.
The best ply tire will be the one that comes with the load rating s=high enough to handle the weight. Keep in mind that if a tire has a 84 load rating it means it can handle up to 1102 pounds.
But that is just for one tire not for two or four you may have on your trailer. If you have 4-84 load-rated tires then multiply 1102 by 4 and your set of tires can carry 4408 pounds.
There are other factors like speed rating, brand and so on that will influence which tire you will buy and be the best for your toying situation.
The most common load ratings for tires are B, C, D, and E and each letter has its own weight capacity. B is for the lightest and smallest trailers while E is for the heaviest and larger trailers.
One thing to remember is that the tire load rating is not just for the weight of the axle and trailer. It is also for the cargo inside. You are not going to get 1100 pounds for the trailer and then another 100 pounds for the cargo.
This weight confusion is what leads people to overload their trailers. Here is the other problem when it comes to load range. The tires may be the same size 75/15 but the first set of numbers may be different, 205 and 225. these tires are the same size but they do not have the same load rating.
The 205/75/15 is rated to haul 2150 and is given a load range letter of D. The 22/75/15 tire also gets a load rating of D even though it can haul 2540 pounds. This is why there can be a lot of confusion when you are buying trailer tires.
There are just too many factors in play that one trailer tire is not the same for all trailer tires. You need to do your homework when you buy your trailer. To answer the question, the best load rating is the one that carries your trailer and cargo’s eight comfortably.
Do your homework and learn the different load ranges and how they apply to trailer tires. And no, there is not a chart for all of this because there are too many tries sizes to work with.
Good trailer tires can be found everywhere. The price is not going to be the most important factor although it is an important factor. Top tire brands make good tires but that does not mean they are always the best. Their price will influence you to go to another brand.
That is okay as long as you avoid the really cheap tires that undercut everyone else in price. Good trailer tires will have the right load range and will haul your load with no problem.
Then you want the right size. Tires and rims aren't a one size fits all product and you need to match the rims to the axle as well as the tire. So having all three line up and you have a good start.
You will want to see the letters ST on the sidewall. Those are the tires specially made for trailers. Then, the tires need to match and be compatible with your purpose, type of load, and road conditions.
Another factor in buying the right tires for your trailer will be sidewall strength, you do not want weak sidewalls at all. Don’t forget to check the durability and longevity of the tire. Trailer tires do not last as long as other tires. You will be lucky to get 5 to 7 years out of them if all goes well.
Next will be the maximum psi. You will want to see a psi maximum that matches up with the load you are going to carry or be a little bit better than that. Do not try to under-inflate or over-inflate and there are guidelines on how to do this properly.
Finally, you want a good speed rating. If you do not get that you may be crawling along the highway with everyone mad at you for going slow. Do not go over the maximum speed rating or you will be asking for trouble.
When your tire matches all of these criteria then you will have a good trailer tire that should be safe to use for years to come.
While the tire brand is not as important as other factors, buying the right brand of tire is still important to get a good tire. Then you may be surprised by some of the well-known names on the worst tire brands to buy.
That is because manufacturing has been switched to China and inferior materials are being used.
1. Best tire brands
- Goodyear Unisteel G614 RV Tire
- Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor RV Tire
- Michelin XPS RIB RV Tire
- Boto Tyres BT926 RV Tire
- Bridgestone Duravis M700 HD RV Tire
- Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 RV Tire
The list is subjective and only meant to give you an idea of some of the best tires and brands to buy. There are more top brands but we need to put some of the worst trailer tire brands up now.
2. Worst tire brands
- Firestone Destination Tires
- Falken Ziex Tires
- Carlisle Tires
- Low-End General Tires
- Westlake Tires
- AKS Tires
- GeoStar Tires
- Autogreen Tires
- Chaoyang Tires
The General tires that made this list are not the best ones made by the company. There is a distinction between the good tires General makes and the cheapest tires they make so avoid the cheapest ones.
Then Falken Ziex is a Japanese company that sacrifices quality and safety to make affordable tires. The rest are made in China and except for Carlisle and Firestone, those brands are made by the Zhongce Rubber Group Co., Ltd. Or some other Chinese company that does not care about quality.
You also have to do some homework on the worst and best tires to buy when you need to replace your trailer tires. The worst will be China Bombs and many RV makers put those tires on their trailers when they make them.
Those companies will go with the cheapest tires possible.
When it comes to trailers, as with all vehicles, the tires you buy are important. While you want to save money, this is not the area to go cheap. The cheaper tires look good and will save you money initially.
But if they fail, those tires can cost you a lot of money in repairs and hospital bills. Do your homework and get the best tires possible.