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Trailer Tire Tips

assembled by: Derrick Childress
various resources around the internet used to assemble this article to consolidate data in one place

After my own research and tire purchase here are some valuable tips I've found:

Trailer Tire Applications
  • Trailer tires are designed for use on trailer axle positions only. They are not built to handle the loads applied to, or the traction required by, drive or steering axles.
  • An "LT" designation on a trailer tire size specifies load range only. It is not designed for use on light trucks.
  • Do not mount "ST" or "LT" trailer tires on passenger cars or light trucks.
  • Always inflate trailer tires to the maximum inflation indicated on the sidewall.
  • Check inflation when the tires are cool and have not been exposed to the sun.
  • If the tires are hot to the touch from operation, add three psi to the max inflation.
  • Underinflation is the number one cause of trailer tire failure.
Load Carrying Capacity
  • All tires must be identical in size for the tires to properly manage the weight of the trailer.
  • The combined capacity of the tires must equal or exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of the axle.
  • The combined capacity of all of the tires should exceed the loaded trailer weight by 20 percent.
  • If the actual weight is not available, use the trailer GVW. If a tire fails on a tandem axle trailer, you should replace both tires on that side. The remaining tire is likely to have been subjected to excessive loading.
  • If the tires are replaced with tires of larger diameter, the tongue height may need to be adjusted to maintain proper weight distribution.
  • All "ST" tires have a maximum speed rating of 65 mph.
  • As heat builds up, the tire's structure starts to disintegrate and weaken.
  • The load carrying capacity gradually decreases as the heat and stresses generated by higher speed increases.
  • Time and the elements weaken a trailer tire.
  • In approximately three years, roughly one-third of the tire's strength is gone.
  • Three to five years is the projected life of a normal trailer tire.
  • It is suggested that trailer tires be replaced after three to four years of service regardless of tread depth or tire appearance.
  • Trailer tires are not designed to wear out.
  • The life of a trailer tire is limited by time and duty cycles.
  • The mileage expectation of a trailer tire is 5,000 to 12,000 miles.
Why Use An "ST" Tire
  • "ST" tires feature materials and construction to meet the higher load requirements and demands of trailering.
  • The polyester cords are bigger than they would be for a comparable "P" or "LT" tire.
  • The steel cords have a larger diameter and greater tensile strength to meet the additional load requirements.
  • "ST" tire rubber compounds contain more chemicals to resist weather and ozone cracking.
  • The ideal storage for trailer tires is in a cool, dark garage at maximum inflation.
  • Use tire covers to protect the tires from direct sunlight.
  • Use thin plywood sections between the tire and the pavement.
  • For long term storage, put the trailer on blocks to take the weight off the tires. Then lower the air pressure and cover the tires to protect them from direct sunlight.
  • Clean the tires using mild soap and water.
  • Do not use tire-care products containing alcohol or petroleum distillates.
  • Inspect the tires for any cuts, snags, bulges or punctures.
  • Check the inflation before towing and again before the return trip.
Keys to Avoiding Trouble
  • Make sure your rig is equipped with the proper tires.
  • Maintain the tires meticulously.
  • Keep a lug wrench that fits your trailer tires with your tow vehicle!
  • Replace trailer tires every three to five years, whether they look like they're worn out or not.

Which Tire Cleaner products should I use on my tires?
Most people don't give a lot of thought to their tires except for how they look. Truth be known, your tires are designed to perform under extreme conditions of heat via kinetic energy transfer, high speeds for long periods of time and incredible forces of torque and flexing. That's a lot to ask from a chunk of rubber, inflated with air like a cream filled donut.
The science behind the modern rubber formulas used by major tire manufactures today is both complex and interesting. The rubber itself contains and ingredient called Antiozonant. Antiozonant is an ingredient that helps to prevent the exterior rubber surface from cracking, checking, oxidizing, and deteriorating. The rubber is designed in such a way as to constantly work its way to the outside of the tire and as such, continually replenish the exterior surface with fresh antiozonant.
After the antiozonant works its way to the outside of the tire and is exposed to the ozone in the air, it turns brown. The technical term for this effect is blooming.
This is why you see a brown film on the surface your tires. You can wash your tires with soap or an all-purpose cleaner and remove this film, but in a few weeks, it's back. That's because the antiozonant continually works its way to the outside of the tires every time you drive your car.
To maintain your tires and keep them looking sharp with a deep, dark black color, Meguiar's offers six unique tire dressings that treat the rubber with Meguiar's own special conditioning agents as well as patented antiozonants that replenish your tires' original antiozonants and keep your tires looking blacker longer than generic tire dressings and protectants. Special polymers actually penetrate and cure to the surface to form a long lasting barrier-film that protects your tires from inclement weather and exposure to corrosive elements. These include:
  • Hot Shine Tire Spray (Trigger Spray) High gloss formula turns tires a dark black with high shine
  • (Aerosol Spray) High gloss formula turns tires a dark black with high shine
  • leaves a dark satin matte finish
  • leaves A shinier, higher gloss finish

· Premium Member
6,999 Posts
Derrick: what is your thought on when the time comes of replacing the Trailer tires with Car Radial tires. I have heard of people doing this????? They say they get a better ride and the Boat tow's easier.???

I had to edit the article to include that the information wasn't written by me, I just consolidated information found on various websites to hopefully provide one article with full information about the topic.

@ retired-psg:
I actually created this article during my search for new tires for my 1997 17' Nitro's trailer. The old tires were light truck tires (installed by previous owner) from an older model Ford Bronco. They were dry-rotted pretty bad, and because they cannot hold the PSI of a trailer tire, they are more bouncy.
Now last year I ended up going with trailer tires vs car/truck tires. The trailer tires were slightly more expensive but after reading the information I found, I decided that I wanted to say away from car tires if I could. So far I have nothing but positive experience from them. I inflate them to the max on the sidewall (as outlined in the above article) and that allows the tire to be harder, so its not as bouncy of a ride. Also, the gas mileage is better because you have less resistance. Let me explain; you have less resistance because the trailer tire is rounder on your trailer than a car tire. The fact that the trailer tire isn't bending or compressing as much as a car tire on your trailer demonstrates this rounder tire theory. There are two reasons for this. 1) Trailer tire sidewalls are tougher and can allow more weight than car tires 2) Trailer tires (because they are tougher) can hold more PSI than a car tire, making the tire stiffer thus giving you a rounder tire with less resistance than a car tire used on a trailer.
Finally, using a trailer tire gives you peace in mind, thats what the purpose of the tire was for so you'll know you have the right tool for the job.

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· Premium Member
817 Posts
Good information! I just did a complete over haul on my Shorelnder Trailer. With trailering from NY to Florida in the Winter each year it takes it's toll and tires are my #1 concern. Been following a very simular set of rules I got from a tire dealer years ago and it appears that it is still the best advise today.

· Premium Member
6,999 Posts
Great Info here Thanks for the post! :thumbup01: :thumbup01:
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