As the head of our tire information department is fond of pointing out, the first job of a tire is to bear the load of the vehicle. If a tire isn't rated to support the weight that's being placed on it, it will not be able to exhibit any of the other characteristics that we usually look for in a tire: longevity, handling, reliability, ride quality, etc.
Here are a few key points to remember when considering load ratings for your vehicle's tires:
The main thing to check is whether your car uses Standard Load or Extra Load tires. Extra Load tires will have an XL (eXtra Load) or RF (ReinForced) after their size to indicate the rating. If you're keeping the size the same, you can keep the same rating.
If you have a a truck up to 1/2 ton, SUV or crossover, you'll generally still use a P-Metric or Euro-Metric tire. Note that when using a P-Metric tire on a truck or SUV, it should be considered as having 91% of the tire's stated load capacity. This accounts for the vehicle's higher center of gravity and tendency to be loaded more heavily at times. The vehicle manufacturer will account for this when specifying the tires for your vehicle.
You may find that some tires in your size have an LT designation out in front of their sizing. These tires will be heavier, stiffer riding and have higher load capacity.
Consider an LT tire in the following situations:
- Do a large amount of off-road driving
- Travel or live in areas with exceptionally poor road conditions
- Tow or carry heavy loads on a daily basis
When driving a heavier truck or van (250, 350, 2500 or 3500), you must use an LT rated tire with a load range E. For some 3/4 ton vehicles a load range D will also work. You may have heard of "10 Ply" or "8 Ply" tires. This comes from the days of bias-ply tires, when heavier rated tires had a larger number of internal components. This terminology has officially been replaced with the letter load rating system. Load C = 6 Ply Rated, Load D = 8 Ply Rated, Load E = 10 Ply Rated, etc.
Need help finding the load rating on your current tires? Read "Sidewall Markings."
Looking for more details about the different load rating systems? Check out "Load Range/Ply Rating Identification."
Are you unsure what load rating your vehicle requires? Check the vehicle placard, usually found in the driver's doorjamb. Look for GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) Front and Rear. Your tire's load rating should always be at least half or whichever GAWR is heavier.