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7 Questions Everyone Has About Trailer Tires Cover

7 Questions Everyone Has About Trailer Tires

Typically, whatever experience or knowledge we have concerning tires comes from dealing with our vehicles. This is a great place to start, but it's also where some of the confusion about trailer tires comes in. Are trailer tires the same as passenger vehicle tires? Do they need to be balanced? How long do they last?Whether you're replacing a blown out tire, upgrading to a larger one, or simply learning as much as you can about trailer tires in preparation, we've got you covered.
Watch Now: Our resident trailer expert, Jake, answers the most pressing questions we receive about trailer tires
Trailer Tires and Wheels

Do Trailer Tires Need to be Balanced for Proper Performance?

The short and sweet answer: No.The "DIY guy" answer: You can have your trailer tires balanced if you wish, but this isn't required. When cruising the highway in your passenger vehicle, you're more likely to feel the vibrations from unbalanced vehicle tires, so vehicle tires are dynamically balanced using a machine and weights.Trailer tires are different in that their main responsibility is supporting a load behind a tow vehicle, not providing a smooth ride for passengers.
Pro Tip: If you buy new tires for your rims, you can choose to have them balanced if you prefer. Remember that many trailer wheels are centered by the position of the lug bolts (these wheels are lug-centric) and not the center bore of the wheel. For best results, have them balanced using a pin plate adapter. This mimics the way a lug-centric wheel is mounted to a hub.
Load Range E Trailer Tires
Pictured: a load range E trailer tire

What is Load Range on a Trailer Tire?

The short and sweet answer: Load range basically tells you the load capacity of the trailer tire.The "DIY guy" answer: The tire's load range is rated with a single letter, such as B, C, D, etc. If you have a load range D and B tire of the same size, the D tire will have a higher weight capacity.Keep in mind that load range varies between tire sizes. That is, a size 175/80-13, load range B tire might have a 1,100-lb capacity, whereas a size 205/75-14, load range B tire may have a capacity of 1,430 lbs.For help determining your potential load ranges based on tire size, check out our chart here.So which tire load range should you use? In most cases, you should select tires with a load capacity that matches the load capacity of the tires that came with the trailer. If you wish to select tires with a higher load capacity, keep in mind that other components of the trailer also have a weight limit, including the wheels. This means that upgrading to higher capacity tires won't necessarily increase your trailer's load capacity—you'll always be limited by the lowest rated component in your setup. Plus, higher capacity tires usually cost more.
ST vs LT Tires
Pictured: ST tire (top) and LT tire (bottom)

Can I Use Trailer Tires on My Car/Truck (Or Vice Versa?)

The short and sweet answer: No (with the exception of LT tires).The "DIY guy" answer: ST (Special Trailer) tires are made for a specific purpose—supporting the vertical load and cornering forces of trailers. P (Passenger) tires are designed with more flexible sidewalls and are made with passenger comfort and steering in mind. Generally speaking, it's a bad idea to swap them. They simply weren't made to perform in the same way.There are a few exceptions. LT (Light Truck) tires are sometimes used on larger trailers and fifth wheels due to their stiff sidewalls. LT tires are typically readily available locally, and at affordable prices. They also generally have higher speed ratings than ST tires. If you decide to go with LT tires, make sure they're within your load carrying capacity.Typically, though, you'll want to stick with ST trailer tires for your trailer. That's what they're made for!
Trailer Tire DOT Age Code
This tire was manufactured in the 17th week of 2018

How Long Do Trailer Tires Last?

The short and sweet answer: 3-6 years.The "DIY guy" answer: In general, you want to replace your tires about every 3-6 years, but it depends on the tire. In most cases, tread wear isn't the problem for trailer tires. Rather, the biggest problem trailer tires face is that they spend most of their time doing nothing. They are typically parked in one spot between tow jobs, soaking up harmful UV rays, gaining flat spots, dry rotting, and otherwise deteriorating due to oxidation.Even when stored in a controlled garage environment, tires are still subject to dry rot and flat spotting. And even when they look fine from the outside, it's usually a good idea to replace tires once they're about 5-6 years old at most, or you've run them for about 10,000-12,000 miles. For a video helping you identify when your tires are too old, click here.

How Old Are My Trailer Tires?

There's an easy way to tell how old your trailer tires are: it's written right on your sidewall. The DOT (Department of Transportation) ID number code is stamped on one side of the tire. The code begins with the letters "DOT" and is followed by numbers or letters identifying the manufacturing location. The last four numbers of the code represent the week and year the tire was built. For example, the number 0418 means the fourth week of 2018.
Trailer Tires Dos and Don'ts
Tire Overinflation and Underinflation Wear
Overinflation and underinflation produce distinct tire wear patterns
Speed Rating Chart

Why Do My Trailer Tires Keep Blowing Out?

The short and sweet answer: You're probably doing something wrong. (Don't worry, it happens.)The "DIY guy" answer: There are a lot of reasons tires fail. Here are some of the most common:
  • Excessive heat caused by underinflating
  • Overloading the tire
  • Surpassing the speed rating (listed on the tire sidewall)
  • Flat spots or sidewall rubbing (which could indicate clearance or braking problems)
  • Bent spindles (less likely but still a possibility)
Aside from checking the psi with a tire gauge or tire pressure monitor system, an easy way to tell if you're underinflating a tire is to look at its wear pattern. If you notice uneven wear on the outer edges of the tire, it's probably underinflated. In the same vein, if you notice uneven wear down the center of the tire, it's most likely overinflated. When properly inflated and adjusted, your tires should wear evenly.
What Does My Tire Wear Pattern Mean?
Bias and Radial Tires
Pictured: bias tire (left) and radial tire (right)

Why Are Trailer Tires Bias Ply?

The short and sweet answer: They're not. At least, not all of them.The "DIY guy" answer: There are two type of trailer tires: bias and radial. The main difference between them is how they are constructed. The cords inside a bias ply tire run at a 32 degree angle to the direction of travel, whereas cords on a radial tire run at a 90 degree angle, or across the tire from wheel lip to wheel lip.So what does this mean for tire performance? Radial tires flex more, which provides better ground contact, traction, stability, and tread wear. A radial tire will normally run cooler than a bias ply tire, and since cooler tires last longer, radials generally outlast bias ply tires. At one time, radials were more costly than their bias ply counterparts, but that's changed, and the two types are now similar in price. Radial tires are great for highway use, making them the more popular choice for modern trailers and campers.So why would you ever buy a bias tire for your trailer? Bias ply tires have stiffer sidewalls, which is great for applications like agricultural use, where you won't be spending most of your time on the highway.Whichever tire type you choose, just keep in mind that they are not meant to be mixed. Mixing the two types on the same trailer can cause uneven wear and tracking problems.
RV with Covered Tires
Covering your tires helps protect them from the elements

How Can You Protect Trailer Tires from Dry Rot?

The short and sweet answer: Work 'em, then wrap em'.The "DIY guy" answer: There are some measures you can take to keep your trailer tires healthy and strong. Dry rot is caused by excessive heat and sun, lack of use, and low inflation. Use a wheel cover when your trailer is not in use to guard against UV rays, water, and dirt. Jack up your tires or park on plywood boards when possible to keep your tires off the ground when you're not using the trailer. Make sure they are properly inflated (use a tire gauge or tire pressure monitor system to check—trailer tires can look fine and still be underinflated). For long-term storage, remove your tires and store them in a cool, dark area.
Written by: Amber S.Updated on: 2/7/22



I totally disagree about balancing. WEAR and 'thumping' can occur due to out-of-balance too! I would never run with unbalanced tires. Also, shouldn't the tire pressure be adjusted to conform to the trailer weight? For instance, according to the load sheets published by my tire manufacturer, to support my trailer fully ready for travel ( you have to weigh it, not guess ), the proper tire pressures is 10 psi under maximum tire pressure ( from the sidewall ). This works for me over thousands of miles. As you point out, too much pressure causes center wear. My 2 cents.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


Let's start with your first question. Ideally, you'd have your wheels balanced, especially if we're talking an RV that's going to see highway use. If it's a utility trailer that's only going to be used locally with limited highway use, then having tires that are perfectly balanced isn't as important. As far as your inflation pressure question goes, we typically recommend keeping trailer tires inflated to the maximum pressure listed on the tire's sidewall. We do this because most trailer tire manufacturers only test for weight capacity at full inflation. If the manufacturer of your trailer tires doesn't list he load capacity at various pressure ratings, you'll want to keep them fully inflated. Otherwise, you could end up with an unknown capacity which could result in tire failure. Which would be baaad....



@Ziggy49 I definitely believe in balancing trailer tires if the are going to be on roadways. I know for a fact the unbalanced tires wear out faster than when they are balanced. I took a long trip pulling a boat trailer, a set of new tires, unbalanced wore out through the trip, when I replaced them and had them balanced, never moved the boat off the trailer or had any weight changes, the second set lasted twice as long.

Frank K.


When traveling from cold weather (Pa) to warm weather (Fl) should I be adjusting tire pressure as the weather temperature gets warmer as we travel?Pulling 38ft fifth wheel.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


Tire pressures rise about 1 psi per each 10º of temperature increase so even a 50º temperature swing will only cause a change of around 5 psi. This situation is where a TPMS system like # TM89FR from TireMinder would come in handy. A TPM system would allow you to monitor those pressures before they can become a problem.



The balancing of the tire/wheel combination is for the longevity of the tire. Just because it provides the driver with a smoother ride is a side benefit. A 2oz out of balance turns into 30lbs at highway speeds. Given the cost of quality tires whether tire or passenger or LT, it only makes sense to balance them, period. As Andy said, just as an out balance make for poor ride for you, it does the same for the trailer and cargo. Hmmmm, wonder why I always find broken dishes after we arrive at camp????

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


How and where will the trailer be used? What type of trailer? Having trailer tires balanced isn't terribly expensive, so for RV's and anything that's going to see lots of highway use by all means get 'em balanced. For utility trailers that don't see much highway use it's not as important.

Andy C.


yes trailer tires should be balanced, otherwise the shaking and vibration from an unbalanced tire at road speed will shake the trailer and its load and shorten the life of camper trailer interior components.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


In some scenarios should trailer tires be balanced? Sure! Is it absolutely necessary in all circumstances? No, it isn't. It all depends on the type of trailer and how and where it's used. It's much more important that a travel trailer that sees thousands of miles of highway use per year have balanced tires than a farm wagon or utility trailer that sees little to no highway use.

Vette P.


It's funny to me no one mentions the vibration effects on the bearings and seals!
Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@VetteP If the trailer is under heavy load and the vibration is very severe, it can have a negative effect on the wheel bearings, especially if they're a little loose.



There is no mention of a Load vs inflation for most trailer tires except the Goodyear Endurance trailer tire. I am used to using these tables. My trailer has a GVRW of 6200#, the original tires are ST205/75R14 LR D Rannier. The manufacture insists that 65PSI is it, regardless of weight. I drive a max of 60 t0 65 mph and the trailer bounces like a ball down the road. I reduced the psi to 60 and the ride was a little smoother. My thoughts are either the original tires should have been LR C or I should just buy the better Goodyears LR C and adjust the pressure accordingly. As an aside: I could upgrade the suspension with shocks and slipper springs as well as tires. What Say?

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


This depends on how the tires are tested. Goodyear load tests the Endurance at various pressure ratings. The other trailer tire manufacturers (at least the brands we carry) only test at maximum pressure. This is why we typically recommend using trailer tires inflated to the max pressure listed on the tire sidewall, because if the tire is aired down, the weight capacity would be unknown. Hope that helps!



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