Buying tires for an RV trailer can be confusing, especially if you're not already familiar with buying tires for typical passenger vehicles. However, understanding the tire code can be helpful when you want to make an informed decision. This code is the series of letters and numbers you'll find on your tire sidewall, and most online tire listings will also display it prominently.
Tire codes provide a wealth of information, but this article will focus on the letters you'll find at the very beginning of the code. These letters tell you the intended use for the tire, and common abbreviations include "P" (passenger), "LT" (light truck), and "ST" (special trailer). RV trailers typically use LT or ST tires, but what's the difference, and why should you care?
Demystifying Intended Use Codes
Intended use coding can be confusing, especially because there aren't any hard and fast rules for what each category means. Instead, tire manufacturers choose a category based on factors such as load rating, sidewall construction, and other critical aspects of tire design. You'll typically find LT (light truck) tires on commercial vans and larger pickup trucks.
While LT tires offer stronger construction and higher load capacities, they're still fundamentally intended for powered vehicles. In other words, manufacturers design these tires for use on driven and steering axles. Other aspects of their construction help support additional weight for hauling heavy payloads or towing trailers.
On the other hand, manufacturers build ST (special trailer) tires for undriven axles, such as those on trailers. It's important to understand that this does not mean they are worse or lower quality than LT tires. Instead, manufacturers trade comfort (something that doesn't matter on a trailer) for higher load ratings and stiffer, more durable sidewalls.
Choosing the Right Tire
Load index and speed rating are ultimately the two most important characteristics of any trailer tire. If you select tires with an adequate load index and stay within their given speed rating, you can theoretically use that tire on your RV trailer. In other words, you can use LT tires on a trailer, but it's not necessarily a good idea.
Manufacturers design their LT tires to balance load capacity, comfort, durability, and grip. While these tradeoffs work well for trucks, they result in unnecessary sacrifices for a towed RV trailer. On the other hand, ST tires can have taller, stiffer sidewalls for less sway and better control, and they can sacrifice comfort characteristics for even greater load capacity.
While some RV owners may prefer LT tires for their rigs, the reality is that ST tires are the option that is designed specifically for trailers. These tires offer numerous benefits that you will not find on LT tires, and a high-quality ST tire will generally always outperform an equivalent LT tire for towed RV applications.
For more information about RV tires, contact a tire supplier in your area today.