Regular tires require strong traction to navigate roads without slipping. For trailers you need tires with tough treads and sidewalls. They must be able to bear loads and withstand the wear and tear that results from towing.
There are different types of trailer tires. Some are specifically made for boat trailers, cargo trailers, and RVs, while others can fit many of these vehicles. The question becomes, how do you pick a tire based on your intended usage?
The Best Trailer Tires
1. Wheels Express Inc Trailer Tire
Made by Wheels Express, Inc., this tire suits various boat trailers and especially those by Crestliner, Lund, and Alumacraft. It's also the preferred choice for cargo trailer brands like Wells Cargo, FastTrac, and Big Tex because of their specifications.
This bias tire has a weight rating of 1820 pounds, a load range of C, and maximum tire pressure of 50 psi. With these specifications, it can easily support moderate loads. The section width of 205 mm, tread depth of 0.24 inch, and an aspect ratio of 75 give this tire great traction in all weather conditions.
The tire comes fitted over a 15-inch white spoke trailer wheel. Its bolt pattern has five lug holes and a pitch circle diameter of 114.3 millimeters.
2. Trailer King ST Radial Tire
This tire is a part of Trailer King’s latest generation of ST radial tires. It has a nylon overlay construction for additional strength. A groove in the tire’s center gives it excellent stability.
Thanks to its enhanced shoulder design, the tire can dissipate heat fast and remain resistant to heat build-up. The manufacturer has upgraded the tire’s tread design, ensuring a long-lasting tread life. Also, the better quality of the tread’s rubber compound means the tire will wear out evenly.
The tire has a load index rating of 107, a load range of D, and a section width of 205 mm. With these specifications, it can support loads of up to 2150 pounds and air pressure of 65 psi. The tire’s speed rating of L means that we can drive the trailer at a fixed maximum speed of 75 mph. Most trailer tires have a similar speed capacity.
3. Freestar Trailer Radial Tire
Made by Tireco for their Freestar product range, this radial tire’s design specifications allow it to be well balanced, run smoothly, and to wear out evenly.
The heavy-duty construction ensures that the tire can cope with demanding conditions on different terrains. A tread depth of 10/32 inches gives the tire deep grooves that are good at expelling water at a fast rate. Thanks to these grooves, the tire does not slide on wet roads.
The tire’s specifications include a 28.9-inch overall diameter, a 225-millimeter section width, and an aspect ratio of 75. With its D load range and a load index of 113, the tire can support 2450 pounds and withstand a maximum pressure of 65 psi. Additionally, given its M speed index, we can drive the trailer safely over long distances at a maximum speed of 81 mph.
This tire is a popular choice for boat trailer brands like Regency, Lund, Nitro, and Mako and cargo trailer brands like Lark United, Big Tex, and Miska.
4. Maxxis ST Radial Tire
A popular choice for RVs, this tire has a double steel-belted construction with polyester plies arranged at a 90-degree angle. This construction gives the tire the required strength and stability for towing livestock trailers, cargo trailers, travel trailers, and other heavyweight vehicles. It is also very durable, and its radial construction ensures a smooth ride.
Its advanced treads are made of a polyester compound that decreases rolling resistance and, thus, improves fuel economy. The tire has a ply rating of 10. As a result, it can handle all sorts of loads.
As the tire has a speed index of R, it will not wear out even when we drive the trailer over long distances at a speed of up to 106 mph.
5. Trailer King ST Radial Tire
This tire is from Trailer King’s latest line of ST radial tires that support trailers with higher load capacities. It is meant to fit a 15-inch wheel rim, and it gets the strength required for withstanding high loads from its nylon overlay construction. Along with a load range of E, the tire has a load index of 117. When the air pressure inside the tire is at 80 psi, it can support a maximum weight of 2860 pounds.
The tire has a section width of 225 millimeters, with a central groove that gives it consistent tracking and stability on all terrains. The enhanced shoulder design enables it to dissipate heat quickly, which increases its resistance to heat build-up. Also, the improved tread design and tread compound augment the tread life and allow for a more even wear of the tires.
With a speed rating of M, we can drive the trailer safely at a speed of 81 mph, and it will be a long while before the tire wears out.
What to Look for in Trailer Tires
Since trailer tires are not required to steer and swerve, they don't transmit power from the engine to the road. They are free-spinning and sit underneath stiff suspensions. That’s what differentiates them from other vehicle tires.
There are two types we can choose from:
These tires have polyester plies that are arranged in layers. These layers overlap one another perpendicularly from the tire's center. Steel mesh belts provide the tires with better flexibility and increase their contact with the road to ensure smoother rides.
Radial tire treads do not wear out quickly. On average, they will last for at least 40,000 miles. Also, they won't develop flat spots over time if you leave them parked in the same place.
These are suited for highway or high-volume usage as they tow better at higher speeds. Since they also have better heat resistance, they tend to remain cool, which decreases the risk of a tire exploding during long haul trips. Most importantly, radial trailer tires make less road noise and offer increased fuel economy.
The plies of Bias tires are made of rubber-coated nylon or polyester. Aside from being arranged in alternating layers, they are placed at a 30 to 45-degree angle from the tread center.
Some of these tires have fiberglass belts for added reinforcement. The rugged and steeper sidewalls allow the tires to carry heavier loads. However, the tire treads are not long lasting and will probably last only about 12,000 miles.
Bias tires are a less expensive alternative for trailers that are not used often or used for short trips. They may also be used on the highway but will not perform as well as the radial tires.
Tire Specifications to Consider
Does the Tire Fit the Wheel Hub?
You need to be able to fit the tire and the wheel it's mounted on to your trailer’s wheel hub. For this, you need to know the bolt pattern for the wheel hub. The bolt pattern refers to the number of lug holes on the wheel and the pitch circle diameter (PCD), which indicates the spacing between the lug holes.
Some wheels have at least two different bolt patterns, which makes it possible to mount them on a variety of trailers. For proper mounting, the number of holes in the wheel should correspond to the number of holes in the wheel hub. Trailer wheels usually have 4, 5, 6, or 8 lug holes.
For wheels with 4, 6, or 8 lug holes, you can measure the distance between the center of two opposite bolts to calculate the PCD. In contrast, we will use an imaginary circle drawn from the center of each bolt hole to determine the PCD for wheels with five lug holes.
What is the Rim Diameter?
The rim diameter is the diameter of the tire from rim to rim. It should match the rim diameter of the wheel on which we are going to mount the tire.
You can find out how much the rim diameter is by checking out the tire’s sidewall. The most common are the 15-inch and 16-inch rim diameters.
What is the tire’s section width?
You can get the tire’s section width by measuring its cross-section width from sidewall to sidewall. It is measured in millimeters and is generally a three-digit number.
Most trailer tires have section widths between 205 mm and 225 mm. Tire manufacturers imprint this number on the tire sidewall, and you can check the trailer’s manual to find out the section width of the tires that you can install on it.
What is the Tire’s Aspect Ratio?
To find the aspect ratio of a tire, you need to divide its diameter by its width and convert the result into a percentage. If a tire has an aspect ratio of 60, you can say that its section height (which you measure from the tire's bead to its tread) is 60 percent of the width. Ideally, for better stability, you want a tire with a smaller aspect ratio. Most trailer tires have an aspect ratio of 75.
Will it Support Your Trailer Load?
Your trailer’s axle has a gross vehicle weight (GVW), or the total amount of weight it can withstand. You need tires whose capacity meets or exceeds the GVW.
To calculate the total weight that the tires need to support, you can add the load you want to tow to the trailer’s weight. The combined capacity for all of the trailer's tires should exceed the total loaded weight by at least 20 percent.
Trailer tires have a load rating as well as the maximum weight they can support. You should check these specifications before making your purchase. If the tires are unable to support the weight of your trailer, they will get damaged and cause safety issues.
What is the Strength of the Tire’s Sidewall?
The strength of the tire’s sidewall indicates the maximum pressure the tire can handle. In general, the pressure inside the tire will increase along with the rise in the exterior temperature. If the interior pressure exceeds the tire's withstanding capacity, it will probably burst.
What is the Tire’s Ply Rating or Load Range?
Back in the day, tire manufacturers used layers of cotton to make tires, which is how the term “ply rating” became part of our vocabulary. It was an indication of the number of cotton plies used in the tire’s construction. This number determined the tire's strength. The higher the ply number, the greater the tire strength.
Nowadays, most tires have just one or two rubber plies. So, the ply rating indicates that the tire’s strength is equivalent to a tire with that number of cotton plies. However, we also use the term “load range” to indicate how strong a tire is. The load range of a tire tells us how much load the tire can support at a specific level of air pressure.
Special trailer tires have load ranges of B, C, D or E, and these correspond to a 4-ply rating at 35 psi, a 6-ply rating at 50 psi, an 8-ply rating at 65 psi, or a 10-ply rating at 80 psi. We can find this information on the tire’s sidewall.
The video below by TireBuyer may help with understanding load range/ply ratings:
How long will the tire last?
A tire with deteriorated treads makes driving unsafe. Therefore, when buying a tire, you need to look for one that will last you for at least three to five years.
A trailer tire can remain in the same spot for quite a while. Since it doesn't get much mileage, it is not going to wear out like regular vehicle tires. However, such stationary trailer tires will still be susceptible to exterior damage from UV radiation, exposure to sunlight, and also from ozone released by the exhaust. Oxygen from the pressurized air inside the tire can damage its interior.
The tires you install on your trailer will affect how smoothly and safely you can drive in different weather conditions. Since it's possible to find a range of specialized trailer tires, you can choose the ones that specifically suit your trailer and driving style.