Inflation Tips for Trailer Tires
Why is it Important to Properly Inflate Trailer Tires?
Proper inflation of any tire is important, but it is especially important for trailer tires. Improper inflation is the number one reason for premature failure with trailer tires. Safety is also a major consideration and obviously the number one reason for maintaining proper inflation at all times when pulling a trailer. Because these tires perform at higher speeds and also can carry significant weight loads, a tire failure can be a dangerous situation, and at the very least a huge inconvenience.Proper inflation will benefit your safety, and also give you the longest life from your tires.
How to Make Sure Your Tires are Properly Inflated?
Determine Recommended Tire Pressure PSI
On the sidewall of the tire, you’ll see the maximum recommended PSI tire pressure. To check what pressure your tires are inflated to we recommend the use of a high quality pressure gauge.
For the best experience possible, it’s recommended that you regularly check the pressure and when possible, try to check pressure in the shade before the tires heat up on the road.
The biggest reason for trailer tire failure is under inflation. When a tire is under inflated, it will cause additional tire flexing to take place and create excessive heat. This could potentially lead to:
- early tire failure/reduced tire life
- handling and ride problems
- lack of fuel efficiency
Tread temperature elevation also happens because of low tire pressure, and this is particularly a problem at higher speeds. We also do not recommend driving on tires with excessive air pressure. If the tires are inflated to an amount above “Maximum Pressure,” the tire will not carry more load. It is actually the reverse. Not only will it carry less load, the risk of tire failure increases substantially.
Is It Recommended to Over Inflate Trailer Tires to Achieve Higher Highway Speeds?
No. You should not over inflate trailer tires in an effort to achieve faster speeds on the highway. During a sudden impact, over inflated trailer tires will puncture, cut, or fail more often.
FAQ & Important Tips for Trailer Tires
Determining the Age of Your Trailer Tires
All tires have a date code stamped on their sidewall. This date code tells you the date that the tire was originally manufactured. It is a four digit number and it is easily located immediately following the DOT ID. The first two numbers in this code are an indication of the date (out of 52 weeks) and the final two digits represent the year. As an example, 2416 tells us that the tire was manufactured during the 24th week of 2016.
Trailer tire life is not indicated by the amount of tread still left on the tire. In many cases, trailer tires are often stored for extended periods of time. The tire carcass (internal structure) can begin to break down after being under static load conditions without maintenance or movement for an extended period. A visual inspection will not be able to detect a tire breakdown.
How Do You Choose Which Trailer Tire to Buy?
Most consumers either do not know or do not pay attention to the construction of their tires. This is particularly important when you are replacing just one tire. Always check to see if current tires are bias or radial ply and if possible know the model or tread style. Many consumers shop tires and end up with a tread design or construction that is not suited for their usage.
What Does it Mean When You See “ST”?
Trailer tires that have the designation ST are recognized as “special trailer” tires. ST tires have stronger sidewalls that can handle the higher air pressures and heavier load requirements. Light truck or automotive tires have very different requirements.
- LT stands for light truck and should never be used for trailers.
- P is the designation for automotive tires. The P stands for passenger and should never be used for trailers.
Truck and passenger tires have a sidewall that is more flexible. This will often result in trailer swaying. The ST designation means that the tires can handle the duty cycles, special demands, and higher load requirements of trailering.
ST Speed Ratings
Just like passenger car and truck tires, special trailer tires have a designated maximum speed rating. Older tires typically will not have their speed rating marked- if that is the case their maximum speed is 65 mph. Tires manufactured in 2015 and later, should have one of the following speed rating codes on the sidewall.
- M – 81 mph
- L – 75 mph
- J – 62 mph
Important Note: If your trailer tire has any other marking designating maximum speed rating, always use that rating.
Can Tire Tubes Be Used to Fix a Flat?
Trailer tires are typically tubeless tires. This means that using a tube isn’t a requirement. Our recommendation is that tubeless trailer tires be used WITHOUT a tube. Occasionally tire tubes are used in some types of tires to increase the life of a tire or repair a small leak. Our recommendation is to avoid using a tube when fixing a flat trailer tire. Allow a reputable tire dealer to inspect and repair when possible.
Tube Type Trailer Tires
If your trailer tire is market “TT” that designates that it is a tube type tire and requires the use of a tube. With tube type tires it is important to use the proper sized tube, proper flap and the correct valve/wheel stem style.
Watch the Video Below for More Information on Trailer Tire Tubes
Mixing New & Old Trailer Tires
You should always try and replace tires with the same size, load and construction. Mismatching tires can lead to overloading, over heating and tire failure.
If you are replacing two of the tires, and are planning to keep the other tires (assuming they have a safe amount of tread), you should always keep the new tires on the same axle and the two older/worn tires on the other.
Keep in mind that tires mounted on the rear axle are likely to wear faster than the tires on the front axle.
Sometimes it’s best to match tire brands. Different brands on the same tire size may have slightly different Overall Diameters, especially when comparing domestic brands and import brands tires. Unlike cars tires, trailer tires tend to have different specs even though the tire size markings on the sidewall are the same.