The Best Trailer Tires for Travel Trailer in 2020
Comparison, Buying Guide, and Reviews
Deciding you need new tires is only the start of finding the right ones for your vehicle and your next journey. There are many options available when it comes to tires, the next question is how to find the right tire for you in this very crowded field. We’ve simplified this process for you by presenting a range of the best trailer tires on the market.
We’ve sought to include something for everyone, whether you want to upgrade the trailer tires on your trailer to something that will handle use and abuse of your next off-road adventure or cheap little spare tires for your trailers that you can swap out in a matter of minutes so you’re back on the road as quickly as possible.
Top 5 Best Tires for Trailer use - Comparison
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What is a Trailer Tire Actually?
Trailer tires are not made to meet the same performance specifications as vehicle tires. For example, trailer tires are pulled but never push the vehicle, so sidewall flexing is a negative. And trailer tires don’t need to flex to preserve rider comfort, since they’re not supposed to be used on most passenger carrying vehicles.
Stiffer sidewalls help prevent the trailer or an RV from swaying. Higher operating pressures allow the trailer tires to support much heavier loads like a tractor trailer.
Here are the Top 13 Best Trailer Tires Full Review
Now that you know about the various options available when it comes to tires, the next question is how to find the right tire for you in this very crowded field. We’ve simplified this process for you by presenting a range of the best trailer tires on the market.
We’ve sought to include something for everyone, whether you want to upgrade the trailer tires on your trailer to something that will handle use and abuse or cheap little spare tires for your trailers.
01) Carlisle Radial HD Trailer Tire, Model T205/75R15 107M
Editor Rating: 4.8/5
This is a decent, basic tire. It has better durability, life expectancy and heat resistance than other tires in its price range.
This tire is an excellent overall value. The tread depth is a good 9/32 inches. This gives you a good grip on the road, while the low rolling resistance maximizes your fuel efficiency.
The bolt pattern or pitch circle diameter is 4 pico-meters.
The tire has a 250 millimeter section width. The aspect ratio is 75. The tire width is 8.18” The rim diameter is 15 inches.
The load index rating is 109. This is equal to a maximum load of 2200 pounds per tire. The speed rating is M.
This trailer tire can safely go as fast as 87 miles per hour, making it perfect for fast trips down the highway. The rim width is such that you could put it on either 5” or 6” wide rims. The only caveat is that the tires that can support 2150 pounds apiece shouldn’t be put on rims that can’t handle that weight.
The total load the tires can handle is 6500 pounds, a standard heavy load for a 16 foot long utility trailer.
The manufacturer says the tread pattern will minimize road noise and maximize stability. They aren’t nearly as quiet as promised, and the tires can create vibrations in the trailer itself. This may happen despite the tires being “balanced”.
On rough rural roads and off-road, they are prone to sudden failure. This is partially due to the weaker sidewalls. While the tread has two polyester and two steel ply, the sidewall has only 2 polyester ply.
- Can’t handle off-road conditions
02) Maxxis Model M8008 ST Radial Trailer Tire - 225/75R15 BSW
Editor Rating: 4.7/5
This is a Maxxis tire, no other hardware included. These Maxxis tires have a 10 ply rating. Their section width is 225 millimeters. The aspect ratio is 75.
These radial tires by Maxxis have a load index rating of 117. That means each tire can support around 2800 pounds. Their rim diameter is 15”. The rim width is 225 millimeters.
They’re E-rated. This makes them a good choice for fifth wheel trailers.
The speed rating is R. That means the tires could go up to 100 miles per hour safely; if you’re driving through rural areas at 90 miles an hour, you need trailer tires like these that can keep up.
The tires are relatively easy to mount. They don’t seem particularly temperature sensitive. The double steel belted construction is supposed to make the tires more stable.
These tires are made in Taiwan, giving them a higher overall quality than those made in China as cheaply as possible. The tires are relatively quiet. Tread wear isn’t as good as the manufacturer says it is. These tires don’t handle well on wet pavement or in snow, and that becomes worse as the tread wears down.
In a wintery mix, it hardly has any traction at all. However, they do fine on dry pavement. Don’t overinflate them to try to improve traction; they are only supposed to be filled to 80 PSI at most.
03) Wheels Express Inc. 15" Silver Radial Tire, Model ST205/75R15 with Tire Mounted (5x4.5) Bolt Circle
Editor Rating: 4.6/5
This is the best trailer tire for those who that have the 5 hole bolt pattern. The pitch circle diameter is 4.5”. This makes the bolt pattern 5-4.5”.
The rim width is 5 inches. The rim diameter is 15”. This can be a difficult type of tire to find on the market. Their load range is C. It can support a trailer and load that hits 5000 pounds.
The tread on these tires is a mixed bag. The manufacturer provides a tread wear indicator, as if that makes up for the relatively thin 0.24” tread depth.
Another downside is that the tread wears out relatively quickly.
The aspect ratio on these tires is 205 millimeters. The section width is 75 millimeters. These dimensions are standard for 15” rims. The rims are not galvanized, just coated with silver powder to look like they’re galvanized.
The tires come with the rim. The downside is that they’re not always balanced either radially or side to side. Expect to have to have them professionally balanced unless you’re willing to have your trailer vibrate a lot.
Fail to do this, and the rim’s vibration can cause the lug nuts to come loose. They’re decent spare tires but can be annoying if you replace all four of the trailer tires with these.
04) eCustomRim Trailer Tire On Rim, Model ST205/75D15 F78-15 205/75-15 LRC, 5 Lug Wheel with White Spokes
Editor Rating: 4.5/5
These bias ply tires are compatible with a lot of boat trailers. In fact, they are plug-and-play with almost every major brand of boat trailer.
They’re also compatible with many cargo trailers and utility trailers. If you are in need of a universal spare tire for all of your trailers, these are the best trailer tires available, since you can remove the existing tire and put this one on, rim and wheel at once.
These tires have a maximum weight rating of 1800 pounds apiece. This is load range C. The seven thousand pound combined load is perfect for supporting a long trailer and mid-sized boat.
The eCustomRim Trailer Tire is strong enough
This is strong enough to support many travel trailers, as well. The section width of these tires is 205 millimeters. Their aspect ratio is 75. The tread depth is a middling 0.24”. This makes the tires great as spares or when you only take the trailer on short trips but not on long road trips.
If you take them off-road a lot, and we don’t mean to the boat slip, you’re going to see cords showing through the tread in just a few months of use. They have a bolt pattern of 5 bolt holes. The lug nut holes are 0.45”. The hub wheel diameter is 6.50”. The rims themselves are made from steel.
The white spokes are stylish, if the aesthetics of your trailer tires matter to you. More important to many customers is the fact that the valve stems are already installed and often aired up.
These are the best trailer tires to have in your vehicle or trailer as a spare, if you have 5-bolt patterns on all your trailers. If you only take the trailer to the local lake or short trips to the state park, it is good enough for your needs. We don’t recommend these for long distance trips.
- Minimal tread that wears quickly
05) Grand Ride Brand Set of 4 New Premium Trailer Tires, Model ST 225/75R15 10PR Load Range E
Price: Check on Amazon
This deal is for a set of four trailer tires; this is an excellent deal for those who want to put all new, matching tires on their existing trailer.
This is only a set of four tires, no rims included. This set of tires is a good choice for those who want to upgrade their RV tires after returning from a trip.
These tires have a nylon cap ply, a nylon overlay across the entire tread instead of just the shoulder, strengthening the tires. Their ply rating is 10 ply, but the sidewalls are not that durable. Keep them on the highway or, at most, gravel roads. Don’t take them off-road.
They have a better than average load rating of 2800 pounds per tire; this is load range E. Their speed rating is L, letting the tires go up to 75 miles per hour without affecting safety.
They have a rim width of 6”. Their section width is 225 millimeters. The aspect ratio for these tires is 75. The tires are designed for 15” rims. The tread depth is 0.32”, roughly a third of an inch. This is average for this type of tire.
These are one of the best sets of tires for power towing. These are trailer tires, so while they could be mounted on some cars, they shouldn’t be. However, if you're pulling heavy loads, these tires should be on your trailer.
06) TRAILER KING Brand ST Radial Tire-ST205/75R15 D 107L
Editor Rating: 4.4/5
This tire’s design has better heat dissipation than average; it will travel a long way on hot roads before it would fail even if near the end of its tread life.
The construction itself makes the tread more durable than many rival tires, and it isn’t just because these are radial tires.
The center grooves give the tires consistent tracking as long as the tires are experiencing even wear and tear.
The tread depth is 9.5 / 32 of an inch.
The tires have a section width of 205 millimeters. The aspect ratio is 75. The tire rim diameter is 15 inches. The tires are sold with a tread wear indicator. These tires do not come with the rim.
The load index rating is 107. The speed rating for these tires is L. That gives the tires a top speed of 75 miles per hour. The bolt pattern is 74 pico-meters. These tires are more stable than average. They provide consistent tracking. This helps you when you’re taking your trailer on winding roads.
The ST in the title isn’t intended to be misleading, but some people think that means these are standard truck tires. They aren’t – they’re trailer tires. The stiffer sidewalls in these tires help it carry a heavy load but they can’t flex to handle quick turns like car tires. Their dimensions do make them suitable for most RV trailers and fifth wheels.
A Downside of the Trailer King Tires
One common complaint is in the ply rating. They are rated as 7 ply, but the tread is 5 ply, while the side walls are 2 ply. The sidewalls are not as durable as the tread.
Avoid side impacts and driving these trailer tires on rough terrain and through the brush. Another issue is the load range. They’re load range D though they’re sometimes listed as load range C. These tires can only carry about 1800 pounds apiece.
However, this still makes them the best trailer tires for those on our list who carry very heavy loads.
- Ply rating and load range are not as high as often advertised
07) Carlisle Brand Sport Trail LH Bias Trailer Tire - 5.30-12 LRB
Editor Rating: 4.6/5
For example, a 100 amp unit may only put out 70 amps. Yet they sometimes manage to blow out fuseThe Carlisle brand trailer tire is designed for a variety of trailers.
They list it as being perfect for boat trailers, cargo hauling, utility trailers, construction trailers and agricultural trailers. It is made to be plug-and-play with a wide range of boat trailers.
The Carlisle sport tires will work on Yamaha, Alumacraft and Triton boat trailers as well as another dozen manufacturers. It is compatible with a wide range of cargo and utility trailers, too.
They’ll work on your E-Z Hauler, United Trailers and Wells Cargo Trailers. The ST means Sport Trail not standard truck, so don’t try to put them on the truck pulling the trailer.
These lightweight Sport Trail model trailer tires weigh about ten pounds apiece. The section width and rim diameter are both 5.3”. The rim width is 12”. The tires are made to carry up to 1480 pounds apiece. You could carry up to nearly 6000 pounds with four of these tires.
What should you look when you're on use?
These are bias ply tires. The tread depth is a modest 6/32”, rather thin. These tires should be used on trailers that infrequently carry heavy leads like taking your boat to the lake on the weekend, not taken on a road trip.
The tread wear indicator isn’t going to help you much for carrying a heavy load at high speed on a tire not made for it. These are the best trailer tires for slow moving, heavy duty trailers you only pull out of the driveway once in a while.
Their wide shoulder lugs helps them handle the stresses of trying to pull and turn with a heavy load, especially when initially trying to get moving.
Note that it is only the tire, no rim included. This plus their design makes them more time consuming to mount if you’re using them as spare tires. Conversely, their design makes them a decent choice for light duty cargo hauling and light travel trailers where they’ll stay on for years.
No tire is perfect, and the biggest flaw in these tires is how hard they are to bead. Quality control is hit and miss, and some tires show excessive wear after just a few hundred miles on the road.
This means that you may get a bad tire that doesn’t meet the performance specifications we used to give this tire such a great overall review.
08) Freestar M-108 8 Ply D Load Radial Trailer Tire, Model 2057515
Editor Rating: 4.3/5
This trailer tire is a true load range D tire. It can support up to 1800 pounds per tire. It has rugged 8 ply rated construction, though they only have 5 ply used.
The load index rating is 102. The maximum allowed air pressure is 65 PSI. Do not over-inflate them, or you’ll damage the sidewalls.
Some people who complain about sidewall issues were causing the issue themselves by making this mistake.
This Freestar brand tire fits any 15” rims. They can fit rims with a width from 5.5” to 7.5”. The section width is 205 millimeters. The aspect ratio is 75, but these are one of the few tires on the market that could fit a trailer with a 65 aspect ratio.
The speed rating is J. This means you shouldn’t take them above 60 miles an hour. The tread depth is 10/32”. The radial tires have better than average wear resistance above and beyond the typical radial tire. These tires are an excellent value, since they have a long running life despite their relatively low price.
The sidewall durability is average. If the sidewalls develop a bulge, replace them immediately. They have decent traction on both wet roads and dry surfaces. They don’t have much of a track record on icy roads, though they are classified as all-season tires.
These tires are sold individually, and they don’t come with rims. These heavy duty tires are heavy given the normal weight range for this product class.
09) MILLION PARTS Brand Set of 4 Radial Trailer Tires, ST225/75R15 10 Ply Load Range E
Editor Rating: 4.3/5
This is a set of four Million Parts brand radial tires. These are the best trailer tires for those who need to replace all the tires they have on the trailer in one swoop. Note that rims are not included.
These tires are notable for fitting 6” rims. They are load range E. They can support 2500 pounds per tire easily. In theory, the 117 load index means each tire can support up to 2,833 pounds apiece.
Their speed rating is L. You can put these on a trailer towed up to 75 miles per hour.
The tires have a section width of 225 millimeters. Their aspect ratio is 75 millimeters. The ST vehicle service type means that they’re only suitable for the standard trailer, not trucks themselves.
The tread depth is 6.5 millimeters; these tires have average wear resistance, but understand that they will wear down quickly if used regularly.
Nor does the manufacturer provide a tread monitoring sensor in case the tread gets dangerously thin. While the heavy 10 ply equivalent rating gives the body relatively strong performance when it hits bumps, the load will shake and bounce quite a bit.
10) Wheels Express Inc. Brand 15” ST205/75D15 Wheel Tire Mounted with (5x4.5) Bolt Circle
Editor Rating: 4.3/5
These 15” trailer wheels come with white rims that make installation a snap. They have a 5x4.5” bolt circle, so make sure this fits your trailer before you buy these tires as instant replacement tires.
These Wheels Express trailer tires have a maximum weight rating of 1800 pounds apiece. They can tolerate a maximum air pressure of 50 PSI. You could carry a 6000 pound load with some margin to spare with a set of four of these tires.
These replacement trailer tires are plug-and-play with all the major boat trailers such as those made by River Pro, Tahoe, Yamaha and Sea Ray.
They are also plug-and-play with all the major utility and cargo trailer brands. This list includes but is not limited to Triple Crown, Teske, Performance Trailers, PT Trailers, Mistka, United, Big Tex and Carry-On.
They’re equally at home on your Sun Tracker boat trailer as a Triple Crown cargo trailer. And given their design, you can easily pull these tires off one trailer and put them on another if necessary. These tires have a section width of 205 millimeters. Their aspect ratio is 75. The tread depth is 0.24”.
These tires are best used as spare tires. They may only last a few months of heavy use, but they will get you home safely. They may last one or two winters in storage but will need to be replaced after that.
11) Trailer King Radial Trailer Tire – Model 225/75R15 117L, Rims Not Included
Editor Rating: 4.0/5
This radial tire has decent run-life, beyond that expected of radial trailer tires. These tires have a section width of 225 millimeters. Their aspect ratio is 75. Their rim diameter is 15”.
This trailer tire as the description says doesn’t come with rims, though many of the online listings show a tire with rims.
This trailer tire has a center groove designed to maximize stability and tracking. That is in addition to the tread depth of 10/32”, a little better than average.
The load index rating for this Trailer King tire is 117. That means it can hold a maximum of roughly 2800 pounds per tire. Four of these tires on a trailer can safely carry up to 10,000 pounds (including the trailer) with a little margin to spare.
The speed rating for this tire is L. It can safely travel up to 75 miles per hour. A number of competing tires can’t safely top 60 or 65 miles per hour.
One downside of these tires is that their material quality seems to leave something to be desired. They deteriorate faster than expected on exposure to heat and sunlight.
12) Libra Parts Premium Trailer Tires, Model ST 205 75R15 / 8PR Load Range D Steel Belted
Editor Rating: 4.1/5
These tires are an outright bargain, since you save on each premium tire by buying two at once. This is only for the tires; no rims are included. That aside, they’re relatively easy to get on your trailer.
These tires have the load range of D. The load index rating is 107. This is equivalent to each tire carrying about 2150 pounds apiece.
Four of these tires on a trailer can safely carry an 8000 pound load with margin. One advantage of these tires is how well they hold their air.
They are designed for a rim width of 5.5”. The section width is 205 millimeters. The aspect ratio is 75.
These tires are not as easy to bead as expected.
13) Gladiator Brand Model 20575R15 ST 205/75R15 Steel Belted Trailer Tire 8 Ply 15" Load Range D
Editor Rating: 4.2/5
These tires have a load range of D. That means each tire can support around 2150 pounds. The tires have a section width of 205 and aspect ratio of 75. They are designed for 15” diameter rims.
The steel belting gives the tread exceptional strength when it hits heavy potholes or is otherwise under stress. They’re good for driving on rough terrain like gravel roads and agricultural environments.
Note that the tire should be replaced if you ever see the steel belts. They’re reasonably resistant to wear.
These have very long running lives even for radial tires. They generate relatively little road noise.
About the only problem these tires experience is balancing. You need to get them professionally balanced to have a smooth ride for your trailer.
Use them very long, and it is almost impossible to get them properly balanced even if they all have the same tread pattern.
The Difference Types of Trailer Tires
Radial ply and bias ply are the two main types of trailer tires. When a tire has “R” emblazoned on the side by the size information, you know it is a radial tire. If the tire isn’t labeled with an R, it is a bias tire. Each tire has its pros and cons. We’ll address each in detail.
01. Radial Tires
Radial tires have rubber coated steel cables cords or piles built into the tire that run perpendicular to the direction of travel. On top of that, they have belts in the tread. This gives them a smoother ride and longer life than bias tires in most cases. If a bias ply tire lasts 12,000 miles, a radial tire will last 36,000 miles in the same operating conditions.
Radial tires are less prone to become flat if parked for a long time. Radial tires are the better choice if you’re towing at high speeds. They’re the best trailer tires for long trips on flat roads. They run cooler on long trips, and this could save you from a blowout. Their longer running life means you’re less likely to have tread separate, too.
The downside of radial tires is that they won’t carry the same load as a comparably sized bias ply tire. Yet the greater flexing of radial tires gives you better stability on turns and better traction when you’re on ice. Radial tires are the best trailer tires when you’re pulling a travel trailer with occupants. Their lower road noise is a definite plus in these cases.
02. Bias Tires
Bias tires have plies that are layered so they criss-cross. This gives them shorter running life on flat roads. However, bias tires beat radial tires if you’re on rough roads. This is partially due to their greater puncture resistance, especially in the sidewalls.
Another point in favor of bias tires is their lower cost. If you don’t drive the trailer very often or need a fast, cheap replacement, bias tires are a good choice. Just don’t leave the tires parked in the same position, though moving the vehicle or trailer a short distance is good enough to solve the problem.
They have less sway and bounce. This is great for preventing an RV from tilting as far when you hit a rock on one side, but it means a rougher ride in general. Conversely, bias tires can typically carry a heavier load than radial tires.
What's the Difference between Radial and Bias Ply Trailer Tires?
Bias tires have plies that run at 30° angles. The body ply cords extend diagonally from bead to bead. The cords are made from a combination of steel and polyester, though nylon is sometimes used. Their stiffer sidewalls give you a distinct advantage in agricultural environments and off-roading. You want bias ply tires on a boat you’re driving over the rocks and pushing through the trees to get to the boat ramp. Bias tires are generally the best trailer tires for a utility trailer on a ranch.
Radial ply tires have plies that run perpendicular to the belts and the tire. In layman’s terms, the cords run at a 90° angle across the tire body from bead to bead. Bias tires work better off-road than radial tires but can work on flat highway; they just won’t last as long as radials.
In summary, the main difference between these tires is in their construction and how the radials relate to the rest of the tire. All of their differences in performance and application are due to that difference.
Warning: Either install all radial or all bias ply tires, but don’t mix and match them on the vehicle or trailer. Between the differences in construction and performance, combining them will affect ride quality and the life expectancy of the tires.
Single Axle vs. Tandem Axle? What's the Difference?
Double or tandem axel trailers have two axels close together to help spread the weight of the load. Single axel trailers have one axel on it with a wheel connected to each end. Single axel trailers are popular because of their lower price, tighter maneuverability, and lower average weight.
Downside of a single axel trailer
The downside of a single axel trailer is that it puts all of the load on one set of tires, wearing out the tires faster. Double axel trailers distribute the load across more tires, reducing wear on each individual tire. They tend to be more stable at high speeds and have better suspension.
Conversely, you have to buy more tires to get the trailer going. Whether you can keep going on a tandem axel trailer when one tire has blown out depends on your situation.
In Leveling and Rotating
Single axel trailers don’t have to be level while you’re towing it; if this happens on a tandem axel trailer, you’ll wear out the overloaded tires much faster if not blow them out.
Single axel trailer tires really don’t need to be rotated. Tandem axel trailer tires only need to be rotated if you notice increased wear that’s faster than you expect. Rotate tandem axel tires from front to back, ideally in an “X” configuration. You must be careful to have even wear on tandem axel trailer tire to maintain full control of the trailer.
Choose the type what meats your load capacity
They don’t really sell tires that are single axel or tandem axel. Instead, the right way to buy tires for these different types of trailers is to select the tires that can support the load they’ll be on.
Consider the load created by the trailer itself, any gear you put on the trailer and any occupants in it. Divide that by the number of tires, and you have a rough floor for how much weight each trailer tire needs to be able to support.
Always give yourself significant margin over that minimum value.
Make sure the speed
Always figure out the speed you will be traveling with the trailer in tow, and ensure that all tires on the trailer are rated for that speed or higher to minimize the chance of a blowout.
The side benefit of tandem trailers is that if one tire does go, you have others still running so you have more control over the trailer when this happens.
In general, you need to have higher load ratings for single axel trailer tires than tandem axel trailer tires unless you’re not going to pull a heavy payload.
Things to Consider before Buying the Perfect Trailer Tires
Not all tires are the same, and this is true whether you’re searching for car tires or trailer tires. Let’s look at the factors you should use when determining which trailer tires are perfect for your particular situation.
01. Trailer Made
One factor to consider is the type of trailer you want to be hauling and the type of tires for your application. Many camping trailers require massive light truck tires and specifically call for them. Mid-sized trailers could use passenger tires or light truck tires. And there are trailers that should only have trailer tires used on them, such as trailers pulling boats and ATVs.
Trailer tires are typically made with stronger side-walls. You’ll appreciate this if your tires are hit by rocks or tree branches. Don’t put trailer tires like this on your passenger vehicle.
02. Weight and Size
Obviously if you have a low trailer made for 12” tires, you’re going to need tires that fit the rims. The tires should have the correct dimensions to fit the rim of the wheel. And the outer dimension of the tires should fit your trailer, as well. You can’t fit a 35” tire in a 27” diameter wheel well.
Spare tires are generally smaller and lighter than tires made for the literal long haul. You should carry spare tires for your trailer just as you do for your vehicle. You may not be able to safely reach the next gas station or rest point without these.
However, spare tires designed as spares are only made to travel short distances, especially if you’re carrying a full load. Don’t expect spare tires to carry you the last 500 miles of your road trip.
Conversely, full LT or commercial trailer tires weigh more, but they’ll take you the 100 miles back to civilization over rough terrain or 200 miles of highway to get you to your favorite mechanic.
There are several ways this affects the tires you buy. One is the relationship between PSI and speed ratings. In general, the higher the tire inflation, the faster you can go.
However, that’s not a direct, linear relationship. Higher load ranges also identify tires with stronger internal construction, so they can hold more air pressure. However, you should pay attention to the pressure ratings listed on the side of the tire and stay within those limits.
Over-inflation and under-inflation both wear out the tires faster than they otherwise would. Over-inflation prevents your tires from having proper traction. Under-inflation causes too much of the tire to be in contact with the road, causing the tire friction to increase.
If the tires overheat, you risk a blowout. Don’t increase the inflation pressure in an attempt to safely drive at higher speeds than the speed rating, either.
04. Speed Rating
Speed rating is one of the biggest factors to consider in tire selection. It is dangerous to drive 65 miles an hour on tires rated for a speed of 60 miles an hour. You will, at best, wear them out faster, and at worst, you’ll suffer a catastrophic blowout.
Most trailer tires are rated with 65 miles per hour as their maximum speed. However, you can find models with a speed rating of 75 or 80 miles per hour.
Make certain that all tires on your trailer have the same maximum safe speed or else you’ll lose one in a blowout.
05. Load Range
Load range is the most important factor to consider when buying trailer tires. The load the tires will be expected to carry is the weight of the trailer, the weight of the items you’ll haul in the trailer, and any people in or on the trailer. Divide that total weight by the number of tires to have a minimum load each tire will need to bear.
Remember that you may end up carrying more weight on the trailer than your initially expected load, and it isn’t fair to tell someone to walk because you put extra luggage on the top of the RV. Instead, multiply the expected load by a 20% safety margin. Then use that value as the minimum acceptable load for the tires you’ll buy. That value should be in the bottom to middle of the load range for the tires you’re buying.
There are several reasons you want that margin. First, if the trailer is unevenly loaded, you’re putting more weight than your ideally distributed estimate on one or more tires. If you buy tires rated for 1500 pounds and your 6000 pound load is mostly sitting on the back tires, you risk a catastrophic failure.
The second reason to give yourself this margin is in case there are issues with the tires themselves. If one tire is under-inflated or simply blows out, the other tires can continue under the load.
06. Tire Wear
Tire wear can take several forms. If you’re buying used tires, the wear and tear on the tire determines its value. Tires that have worn down tread have little value, while a tire with flat spots or bald tread are dangerous if you’re trying to stop.
Another variation of this is how the tires handle various conditions. Radial tires tend to wear more slowly than bias ply tires. They often last three times as long as bias tires. They wear far more slowly on flat highways.
However, on very rough terrain, bias ply tires will wear down more slowly, though they’ll have a shorter running life in terms of distance traveled. The durability of tires is proportional with price - cheaper tires typically wear out far faster.
The sidewall of your tires matters on trailer tires. The stiffer trailer tires will resist punctures as you drive a heavy RV back into a parking spot and as you back a boat through the trees into a boat dock.
Conversely, the stiff sidewall will mean there is less give when you hit bumps. If you have family in the travel trailer while you’re pulling it, they may appreciate tires with sidewalls with more give. They won’t bounce around as much, and there will be less road noise.
Note that both special trailer (ST) and light truck (LT) tires are fully rated for use as trailer tires. Don’t put passenger (P) tires on your trailer. If you put P-metric tires on a trailer, reduce the load capacity by 10% (or more).
And if the maximum rated pressure for the wheel is exceeded, don’t go faster than 65 mph, regardless of the speed rating.
The tire tread can be factored in several ways. Bias ply tires are cheaper, but they typically wear down faster. Radial ply tires last longer, especially on long road trips, but they cost more. Tire tread has the biggest impact, though, based on weather.
For example, if you’re driving on wet or icy streets, tires made to shed water or keep their grip on icy roads enhance your safety. Don’t mix radial and bias ply tires on a trailer; have it be all of one or the other.
09. Valve Stem
There are several types of tire valve stems you can find on any type of tire. The first is tubeless rubber snap-in valves/valve stems. These are the tire air pressure valves you usually see in passenger cars, light trucks and light duty trailers. These valve stems typically limit cold tire inflation to 65 PSI.
They can be found for holes 0.453” to 0.625” in diameter. They tend to have plastic caps, though metal caps are available. Most types of tire pressure monitoring systems will work with these tires, but it is not a guarantee.
The second type of valve stems is the high pressure tubeless snap-in valves; they’re specifically designed to handle higher air pressures. These valve stems are popular for medium and heavy-duty trucks and trailers. They can be used when tire pressure is 80 to 100 PSI; that pressure limit depends on the rim hole size.
They have a thicker base and metal barrel, making the valve stem much sturdier than tubeless, low-pressure rubber ones. Nearly every tire pressure monitoring system will work with this type of valve stem.
The third type is high pressure metal clamp-in valves. These valve stems are the toughest. They can handle operating pressures of up to 200 PSI, depending on rim hole size. Also, They are the best choice if your vehicle or trailer may exceed 130 miles per hour. They can fit a wide range of valve holes.
Tires vary in how long they’re supposed to last. Some tires are rated to last so many miles, while others are designed to last so many years. Some tires will show clear color changes as they wear down or age, while others can only be checked visually or via the penny test. You can check the manufacturing date stamped on the outside of the tire.
Most major tire manufacturers say to replace the tires at six years of age, regardless of use and abuse.
How much traction do tires get? This is partially dependent on the type of tread and the condition of the tread. However, you can buy tires designed to maximize traction.
This is incredibly important if you want to stop as fast as possible when pulling a heavy trailer.
12. Tire Age
In general, avoid buying old used tires. Between the odds that the material has weakened with age, the tread will be worn down and it may be damaged in ways you cannot see.
One factor to consider is how well the tires will age, whether they’re exposed to the sun or left to sit in storage. Some tires are more UV resistant, while others won’t form bald spots if left sitting in one position for a long time.
How to Install a New Trailer Tires?
The first step to installing new trailer tires when the tire assembly is being kept is to put the car jack under the trailer to raise it. Lift up the trailer until the tire you want to replace is several inches above the ground.
Ensure that the jack itself is secure, because a trailer falling on you can cause severe injuries. Don’t let anyone or anything mess with the jack for the same reason.
Don’t use a jack that isn’t rated for the weight you’re trying to lift, because of the odds that it will fall on you.
Use a lug nut wrench
Use a lug nut wrench to remove all of the nuts that hold the tire in place. You sometimes need to remove these in a cross pattern so that the tire isn’t spinning endlessly. Set the nuts aside, since you’ll need them to secure the new tire in place.
Remove the Old tires
Remove the old tire from the trailer. You can remove air from the tires by pressing on the tire stem valve. At a minimum, it makes it easier to dispose of the deflated tires.
Remove the Tires themselves
Remove the tires themselves from the wheel. You may need to lay the tire on its side and use a tire iron to pry the tire off the rim. Continue working with the tire until it is completely off the wheel.
Setup the New wheel
Put the new wheel on the tire, and pry the lips of the tire onto the edge of the trailer wheel. When the new tire is in place, use a compressor to inflate it. Only inflate the tires to the pressure level recommended by the manufacturer.
Another way to replace the tries is to buy a new tire and wheels in one, combined assembly.
In this case, “break” the lugs with the lug wrench first. Then you jack up the trailer. Remove the old wheel assembly. Replace the trailer wheel assembly. Tighten the lug nuts to hold the new wheel assembly in place.
How to Maintain Trailer Tires For Longer Life?
How can you maximize the life of your trailer tires? First and foremost, check air pressure regularly. Under inflation causes the outside of the tire to wear unusually fast, and you risk the tires overheating. That increases the risk of a blowout.
Check the Air pressure
Air pressure that is too high prevents the tires from having the whole tread in contact with the road. Tire pressure can change with the temperatures, and the air can leak out, too. This is why your tire pressure should be checked every month when the tires are “cold” or haven’t been used for hours. Add or release air as necessary.
Tire pressure should be maintained even when the tires are not in use or in storage.
Check the Valve stems
You can check the valve stems for leaks by pushing the stem to the left and the right. If you hear a hissing leak when you do this, all of the tire stem valves need to be replaced.
The side benefit of doing this is that you’ll prevent them from going flat faster than necessary.
Rotate Tires in an X pettern
The next way to extend the life of your tires is to rotate them. If you have a four wheel trailer, rotate the tires in an X pattern. The back passenger side tire then becomes the front driver side tire and so forth.
Apply UV protectant
Protect the tires from the sun whenever possible, since the UV light will break down the rubber faster. This could be done by parking the trailer in the shade. And it can be accomplished by applying UV protectant chemicals to the tires.
If all else fails, lean plywood against the tires to shade them, assuming there are no splinters or metal nails sticking out that damage them.
Don's store tires on grass for a long time
Don’t store your trailer tires on grass, since the wet ground exposes them to water to penetrate the tire surface. Long term contact with the ground without moving can harm trailer tires. It can even cause dry rot. This is obvious when you find fine cracks in the tread; these tires need to be replaced immediately so that you don’t experience a catastrophic failure on your next drive.
One solution is storing the trailer with plywood under the wheels. You can also jack up the trailer so the trailer and wheels don’t touch the ground. Use concrete blocks for a safe, stable support system.
Depending on how much time you have, you could take the wheels off the trailer and store them indoors.
The Simple Alternative
The simple alternative is driving the trailer around once in a while and parking it so the tires aren’t in the exact same location. This prevents flat spots from forming where the tires were sitting for a long period of time.
You can slow down that process by taking the load out of the trailer, since the more weight there is on the tires, the faster the flat spot will form. Never overload the trailer just because it is in storage.
Time to replace tires
Replace tires when their tread depth is too low or their condition requires it. When you replace one tire, consider replacing its counterpart as well. This helps keep the wear and tear on the remaining tires constant. Have the trailer tires professionally balanced periodically, the more often the farther you drive them.
Frequently asked questions About Trailer Tires (FAQ's )
01. Are trailer tires different from car tires?
Trailer tires differ from car tires in several ways. First is the thicker sidewall. They are made to carry a heavy load per tire without consideration for passenger comfort. This also means they won’t be able to handle the intense pressures generated by turning front wheel drive tires to pull a car forward.
The flexing sidewalls of a passenger vehicle tire will create untenable swaying in a trailer. That is outright dangerous in a vehicle with a high center of gravity like a travel trailer. Trailer tires are rated for higher internal air pressures than vehicle tires for the same reason. If the internal pressure for your standard car tire is 30-35 PSI, know that this is too low in a trailer tire.
Trailer tires are regularly rated to 50 and 60 PSI. You can help them maintain their air pressure by keeping the cap on the air valve stem.
For What Trailer Ties are Designed?
They are designed to maximize traction so that your towed vehicle can stop as quickly as possible. The alternative is risking the trailer hitting the back of the car. The greater air pressure also helps reduce trailer sway. The best trailer tires make it easy to control the trailer through all road conditions.
Trailer tires also tend to have much sturdier construction, both in the sidewalls and the tread. Conversely, they tend to have a shorter run life than car tires. It isn’t uncommon to find trailer tires only good for a thousand miles and rated for only periodic short trips under heavy loads.
More Difference are There...
Another difference is speed ratings. Many trailer tires have maximum speed ratings well below those of passenger vehicles. While your car tires could safely travel 80 miles an hour assuming that’s within the speed limit, many trailer tires cannot be safely taken over 50 or 60 miles an hour.
The heavier the load, the more likely it is that the top safe speed is lower than the speed limit on the highway. You can buy more expensive trailer tires that combine higher speed ratings and load ratings, though this isn’t always a given.
02. How much are trailer tires?
The cheapest trailer tires can be found for $30 each, though these are not going to be of very good quality. Good basic trailer tires will cost around $50 apiece. The highest quality tires still come in at less than $100 each. You can save money by buying trailer tires in pairs or groups of four.
Radial trailer tires cost a little more than bias ply, but you tend to get more durable tires that last longer – up to three times longer.
03. How long do trailer tires last?
The usable life of trailer tires depends on the make and model. Radial tires cost more, but they last longer – several thousand miles longer. Trailer tires are sold with expected run life, the number of miles they’re considered safe to use.
Know that trailer tire life can be cut by overloading them or by being damaged. If the trailer tire tread has flat spots or areas of much thinner tread, the tire needs to be replaced regardless of its age.
In all cases, trailer tires should be replaced after five years due to aging of the materials. If you see a network of fine cracks on the tread or the sidewall, it is breaking down on exposure to ultraviolet or developing dry rot.
Exposure to high heat or over-heating because it is under-inflated will speed up the aging of trailer tires.
04. How to replace trailer tires like a professional?
Whether you hit a nail in the road, let tire pressures get too low or see cracks in the sidewall, you will eventually need to replace your trailer tires. The first thing to do is pull into a safe location. Try to change the tire on an even, flat surface away from the rush of oncoming cars. We’re going to assume you already have a spare tire that’s compatible with the rest of the tires on your trailer.
Use a lug wrench in the proper size to break the lug nuts free. By doing this before you lift up the trailer, you’ll prevent the wheel constantly spinning on you as you loosen the lug nuts. However, you don’t want to take them all the way off yet.
Are you able to use a jack?
If you can, use a jack to lift up the trailer. If you can’t, you need to put solid objects in front of the flat tire and ideally another one so the trailer doesn’t move while you’re working. In this case, try to pull the tow vehicle forward enough to lift the flat or damaged tire onto the flat surface.
This will allow you to fit the jack under the trailer frame and lift up the trailer high enough to replace the trailer tire. Make sure the vehicle has an emergency brake on so it won’t pull the trailer on top of you while you work.
Remove the lug nuts the rest of the way. Store them where you will not lose them. Now you can remove the tire. Next, put the spare tire on the lug bolts. Screw them in manually part of the way so that they stay in place.
Use your jack to slowly
You can use the jack to slowly lower the tire until it barely touches the ground. Then use your tool to tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way. When the tire is in contact with the ground, you can tighten it as tight as necessary without having the wheel spin on you. Tighten the lug nuts in an alternating pattern, left to right, then up to down, instead of trying to do them in clockwise or counter-clockwise order.
Once the nuts are secure, lower the trailer until it supports the entire weight of the trailer. Check the lug nuts for tightness. If they’re good, you can remove the jack.
Store the tire securely until you can safely dispose of it. Don’t let it sit loose on a trailer where it could fly off and hit someone else’s vehicle. If you’ve had issues with uneven tire wear such as the left tires wearing down faster or the back tires wearing down, have the trailer itself checked by a professional. They can handle problems with the trailer axles, suspension or alignment.
05. How to save trailer tires from dry rotting
Dry rot is essentially the cracking of the sidewalls of the tire. One way to prevent this is to check the tire pressures at least once a month or at every major stop on a trip and maintaining your ideal tire pressure. That only addresses tire wall deterioration due to stress and strain. You can reduce the rate of environmental degradation by treating the tire pressures by spraying it with compounds that act like sunscreen.
Storing tires so that they are on a board instead of the hot ground will reduce the thermal stress on the tires, too. Jacking tires off the ground is another approach, though this doesn’t shield the tires from UV rays that will eventually break down the rubber in the tires.
A simpler, chemical-free solution is literally shielding your tires. Park the RV in the shade. Store your RV in a garage instead of parked next to your house. Or you could lean boards against the tires to shade them from the sun.
Another option, especially if the tires will be in storage a long time, is to store them in a tire and wheel cover. These covers may even be provided with an RV or trailer to extend the life of your spare tire.
Trailer tires are designed for the specific demands of carrying the heavy loads we put in our trailers. The best trailer tires will properly fit your trailer and carry the loads you’re going to carry without introducing risks to yourself. The ideal trailer tires will last for years through all conditions and won’t cost a fortune.
Take the time to understand which trailer tires will fit your cargo trailer, boat trailer or RV trailer so you only buy what is right for you. Then invest the time and effort into maintaining these tires; you’ll appreciate not being the one stuck on the side of the road.
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