Truck Tires, Making The Right Choice

Truck tires vary greatly in size, shape, and grip depending on what purpose you use your truck for.  The same truck tire that would be equipped for towing would not necessarily be the best choice truck tire if you plan on doing off road driving.  This article will help cover the differences in truck tires when buying a new site for your vehicle.

Truck Tire Ratings

The first difference between truck tires is the type of truck you intend on mounting them to.  A light truck, like a Ford Ranger, will have a different tire than say an SUV will.  Not to mention each OEM rim will require different sizes, but the composition of the tire will actually be different as well.

Codes help to determine what type of tire should be matched with what vehicle.  For example, a light truck tire will have an ‘LT’ imprinted into the tire code on the tire.  Along with denoting what type of tire classification a truck tire will also include a number code indicating the width of the tire, tread depth, construction type, and load range.  The load range is typically accompanied by PSI ratings, which change depending on how much weight is hauled.

Tires for Safety

Having the proper tires on the vehicle can make all the difference, safety wise, if evasive action is required.  Luckily, in the US, there are organizations that monitor and rate tires based on their recommended speed and use.  The DOT (Department of Transportation) and the NHTSA (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration) are both companies that help regulate what kind of tires are allowed on public roads and what type of tire is recommended for your truck.

After selecting the proper truck tire it’s also important to perform routine maintenance on your tires.  For example, having the recommended inflation pressure can keep the tire operating at it’s peak performance level.  Furthermore, having the proper tread level on a used tire can insure that your truck maintains it’s proper braking and steering functions.

To test if the tread on a tire is sufficient, place a US Penny upside down into the grove of the tread.  If part of Lincoln’s head is below the grove level, then you are driving on sufficient tread for typical on road driving applications.  However, if all of Lincoln’s head is exposed, then it’s time to replace those truck tires.  Large grove treads, typical on off road truck tires, will typically wear down much faster during high way driving.  Keep an eye on your tread levels, especially if you live in an area prone to bad weather.

Tread Wear

Tread wear is the most important factor when deciding on a proper truck tire.  Buying a truck tire based on looks alone, without consideration for tread wear, could result in a very short life span for the tire.  However, there are ways to prevent premature tire wear on a truck or any vehicle.

Proper inflation will insure that the tire always has the maximum amount of tread on the road, to prevent uneven wearing.  Having a wheel alignment will also help keep even wear, as opposed to noticing lower tread on the outside or inside of the tire.  TKPH is a measurement used to gauge the work load of tires or also known as TMPH in the United States.  Making sure your tire has the proper TMPH measurement, matched to the work being done like hauling heavy loads, will insure that your tire wears as designed.


Remember, safety first when selecting a new truck tire.  Buying a tire based on it’s meatiness or looks underneath your truck should be a small consideration when buying tires.  Safety for yourself and others on the road should rely on you making an informed decision, based on what type of vehicle you drive, where you will be driving, and if you will be hauling any heavy loads.

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