When it comes to traveling with your trailer or mobile home, safety should be your top priority. Since the tire is the only part of your vehicle that actually touches the road, it greatly affects steering and handling, and therefore your safety. Your driving experience will be completely different if you choose the wrong tires for your vehicle. Read on to find expert information on choosing the right tires for your trailer.
Trailers are vehicles that are towed behind an SUV or truck, whereas an RV is self-powered. Steering capability is the main difference between the two. Trailers require special trailer (ST) tires while RVs often utilize light truck (LT) tires.
While there are many differences between ST and LT tires, it’s important to know how they are different so you’re able to choose the best option for your trailer. Special Trailer (ST) tires have a three- to five-year lifespan and are made specifically for hauling heavy vehicles like trailers. Meant for speeds less than 65 mph, ST tires have stronger sidewalls to reduce the risk of rollover. ST tires have some of the highest load ratings based on inflation pressure, meaning their specific design is meant to haul heavy items with the lowest risk of giving out. Since ST tires also employ stronger sidewall technology, they are great for hauling trailers around corners and when turning. These specifications make ST tires a solid choice for your trailer. Light truck (LT) tires can also be used for vans, SUVs and trucks, and therefore are made with more general specifications.
Before you even start looking at tires, you must first determine the weight of your vehicle. Don’t just weigh your trailer by itself; remember that you will be traveling with personal items inside. The tire’s capacity should be able to safely haul your trailer and anything inside.
Another important consideration to take into account is the terrain and climate where you will be hauling the trailer most of the time. If you travel in a snowy, mountainous terrain, the type of tire you put on your trailer will be different than if you’re mostly driving through a hot, desert area.
After you’ve determined whether you need ST or LT tires, choosing the correct measurement is the next step toward getting your trailer on the road.
Section width is the distance from the widest part of the tire’s inner wall to its outer wall. This is where the tire’s treads are, and is the first number in the model number for a tire. For example, model number ST175/80-R13 would have a section width of 175 millimeters.
The measurement of the sidewall is also known as section height. This is the length of the tire from the wheel to the tallest part of the tire. Aspect ratio is the second number in a tire’s model number. For example, model number ST175/80-R13 would tell you that the aspect ratio is 80% of the section width of 175 millimiters, or 140 millimeters.
How a tire is made can affect its hauling capabilities. The letter after the aspect ratio in a tire’s model number indicates its internal construction.
Wheel diameter is the measurement of the diameter of the wheel. In our example tire model number ST175/80-R13, the 13 measurement indicates that the wheel is 13 inches across.
For more in-depth information on how to measure tires please refer to this excellent tire measurement guide.
You’re nearly ready to go! Once you have chosen the right tire and correct measurement for your trailer, there are some safety concerns for you to be aware of. Make sure to check the tire’s inflation to ensure its pressure is properly aligned for it maximum hauling capacity. The most common cause for tire failure is the tire not being fully inflated. Set yourself up for success by ensuring the pressure is correct.
Always keep a spare tire when traveling and keep the cap on the valve stem to prevent contamination. If you see cracks or bulging on the tires, it may indicate a weakness and should be replaced. It’s a good idea to replace the tire every three to five years, regardless of how much use they’ve seen. Tires are considered baled when the tread is 2/32 of an inch deep or less. A crack of this size would also indicate a need to be replaced. Remember that tire pressure changes with temperature, so if you’re traveling at a time of year with major weather changes, check the pressure periodically to ensure you’re always ready for the road.
For more information, please refer to this tire maintenance guide which includes more detail on how to check tire pressure.
To ensure the longest life of your trailer’s tires, proper maintenance and storage will make all the difference. When washing the tires, use a mild soap and water. Avoid certain tire care products containing alcohol or petroleum distillates, as they can contribute to tire deterioration. Inspect the tires regularly for bulges, cracks or punctures. Store the tires with minimal weight on them to reduce air pressure, and keep them in a cool, dry place. If you’re storing them for an extended period of time, tire covers are a good way to protect them from the sun and other elements. Make sure you know your tire’s warranty requirements should you need to replace them or have an issue.