Quick and Easy Guide to Load Ratings

Monday, August 6, 2012 by Ben Rooney

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. 

Comments on Quick and Easy Guide to Load Ratings

Friday, November 2, 2012 by Chris:
Can I run a C rated load tire on a 3/4 ton that doesn't haul or have a load in the box?
Thanks
Friday, November 2, 2012 by ben@tirerack:
The tires on the vehicle must always be rated to carry the gross axle weight rating for that vehicle. For a 3/4 ton the C load range is generally under the requirements.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 by Jim:
looking for a G rated tire for F-350 SRW. thx
Sunday, March 31, 2013 by KENNETH:
What tire would you recommend for a 2002 chevy avalanche,4x4 new hampshire,all season,pulling up to 4000lb camper.p265/70r 16?
Monday, April 1, 2013 by ben@tirerack:
Kenneth I would definitely consider an LT rated tire for that type of use. There is a tradeoff in ride, but you will gain some stability and durability when hauling the camper.

As long as you are not exceeding your vehicle's weight ratings, you could still use a standard-load tire if you prefer.
Sunday, May 19, 2013 by Mike :
Hi I am converting a mini school bus to an r.v. I suspect the build out will not be more than it weighs now. The bus is a ford e series ( I think 450) with dually set up in the rear. Can I thin divide the G.v.w by four for the tire rating if the rear axle is the heavier axle weight . Would you suggest a lt for stability?
Thursday, August 8, 2013 by Mike:
Ok I have read everything and am still not sure...Application: 85 VW Vanagon with Audi A4 7" wheels. With the stock 14" wheel they are known for rolling the tire under and carcking the sidewall...hence the A4 wheels.
What size and load range would be the best?
Thanks

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