Getting the Right Tires for your Trailer – Part 1

Getting the Right Tires for your Trailer – Part 1

Tires are a critical piece of equipment for all kinds of trailers - horse trailers, car haulers, cargo trailers, utility trailers, etc. Using the right tire for the job is critical to keeping you and your horses, cargo, and equipment safe and riding comfortably. Your trailer will pull better and be more stable on the correct tires.

The requirements for the tires on your tow vehicle are different than the requirements for the tires on your trailer. The key components of a passenger car tire are traction and comfort. Traction is required for acceleration, turning, and braking. Comfort is achieved in part by making the sidewalls of the tire soft enough to flex under normal driving conditions.

Additional key components of trailer tires are load range and inflation pressure. ST tires are engineered for heavier loads and run at higher inflation pressures than passenger car tires.

ST (Special Trailer) vs P (Passenger Car) Tires

Passenger car tires achieve comfort in part by making the sidewalls of the tires softer, allowing the sidewalls to flex. Many trailers (especially enclosed cargo trailers and car haulers) have higher centers of gravity than the typical tow vehicle and sidewall flexing, in this case, can lead to increased trailer sway. The stiffer sidewalls and higher inflation pressures on ST (Special Trailer) tires help to reduce trailer sway.

The polyester cords in an ST tire are bigger than they would be for a comparable "P" or "LT" tire. The steel cords in an ST tire have a larger diameter and greater tensile strength to meet the additional load requirements. "ST" tire rubber compounds contain more chemicals to dissipate heat under higher loads than tires designed for passenger cars. Trailers will pull better and ride smoother on ST tires engineered and manufactured for trailers.

Trailer Tire Safety Tips

Do not overload the trailer beyond its maximum weight. Extra weight means extra heat, extra wear and could lead to tire failure.

Maintain correct air pressure. Underinflated tires may fail under load. Underinflated tires wear out the tread near the sidewalls prematurely while overinflated tires wear out the center of the tread prematurely. Remember, temperature impacts air pressure. For every 10 degrees in ambient temperature, tire pressure increases by 2-5%. Check tire pressure when the weather changes and when traveling to warmer or cooler climates.

Inspect tires regularly. Check tires monthly for air loss, sidewall cracks, irregular tread wear patterns, or any other signs of damage. From all of us at Trailers of the East Coast, happy trailering!