Quick and Easy Guide to Load Ratings

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. 


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?
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?
Monday, October 20, 2014 by Shawn

I need a tire that stands up to road hazards. Ford (F150 4x4) originals were Hancooks, but I had 4 flats and had to replace the tire because the damage could not be repaired. I understand a higher load rating may help.
Monday, October 27, 2014 by Randy

Hi. I have an F150 FX4 ecoboost v6. I have a 7200 lb trailer that I tow regularly. What tire type would you recommend?
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 by wesley

I was wondering I have a 315/75/R16 tires on my f250 they are pro-comp tires and IV had them forever but IV worn them down so much I can not see the rest of the info, this is my first time buying tires for this truck and I don't know the rating but I'm thinking of getting General Grabber At2 315/75/R16 121q D2 OWL, I have no clue what the 121q and I don't know if they can withstand what I do if I cant understand it.. Its my daily I drive it mainly in city and on road sum off road and do heavy towing about once a month 15,000lbs or more, will this tire withstand a 8000 truck with that much weight on the back?
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Steve Pfingsten

I have a Ford F-150 xlt supercab, 2014 ecoboost, and tow a 6500# trailer several thousand miles a year. Original tires are Michelin p-metrics. Should I go to LT tires when replacing?
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 by Tire Rack Team

Steve, you can but it is generally not recommended as the heavier tire rides pretty firm, worse on gas mileage, and is not needed for load requirement.

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