Light truck tires are an important segment of the market

First Considerations

TIRE GUYWhen we speak of light truck tires we are referring to those that are commonly used on Light Trucks, SUV's and Vans.

Your first consideration when selecting a tire for your light truck will be whether you want a heavy or light-duty tire.

Heavy-duty tires are specifically for off-road driving where excellent traction is needed for loose or rocky terrain. The compromise is that they have a rougher ride on highways and can wear quickly.

Light-duty tires have a more comfortable ride but don't perform as well on off-road terrain. They will give smooth riding and good durability.

There are also mid-range tires , sometimes called all purpose tires, that provide fairly good results in both off-road and highway conditions but not as good as the specialty off-road or highway commuter tire.

Assess your driving

The easiest way to decide your needs is to assess your driving. Consider terrain and load conditions you will encounter and whether comfort or durability is more important.

Start by asking yourself questions like these:

  • Will you cruise the highways and rarely go off-road?
  • Will you want some off-road ability for your light truck just in case you need it?
  • Are you a farmer or tradesperson?
  • Do you work or enjoy sports in off-road conditions that demand a heavy-duty tire?
  • Do you have specific load requirements?

Assessing your driving needs is the first step in deciding on the correct tires for your light truck.

Talk to your dealer. If you’re using heavy-duty off-road tires but have no need for them you might find a compromise will provide a much more comfortable ride in your light truck.

Perhaps you need to carry bulky equipment or travel rocky or loose terrain and cannot compromise off-road or loading capacity.

Do not compromise on important needs. Comfort is desirable but keep safety in mind. Overloading a light truck can be dangerous. Even if you only exceed the capability of your light truck’s tires once, it could be once-too-much.

Maybe there is a trip to the snow you need to consider; maybe you might need to move some furniture or equipment. Even if you only need the heavy-duty tires once a year it is better to have them than to not.

Overloading your light truck is not only potentially dangerous it could result in irregular wear of your tires. That could end up being very costly.

Sidewall information

To better understand your light truck tires look at the sidewall -- the maximum load rating and inflation pressure is marked there. It will be something like this example


Light truck tires are specified similar to this example


  • The "LT" stands for light truck.
  • "235" is the width of the tire , measured in millimeters.
  • "85" means that this tire's height is 85% of its width .
  • "R" specifies that the tire is of radial construction.
  • "16" is the diameter of the wheel rim for which the tire is designed.

Tire width can be important, the wider your tires the more contact you have with the ground and this provides improved grip and handling. Such a tire will make more noise and may decrease fuel efficiency, though. Wider tires also slip more on wet roads.

Once you have made the choice between heavy or light-duty truck tires, maintain them properly and they'll give you long and reliable service.

See our articles on tire inflation pressure and rotation to correctly maintain your tires.

If you want to purchase online,  Tire Rack frequently has Special Offers from manufacturer's promotions -- your favorite brand may be on sale.


Other useful links

Visit Tire Information World's Exclusive Tire Care and Accessories Store.

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