How to choose tires for towing heavy loads Complete Guide

Are you looking to tow heavy loads but don’t know how to choose the right tires? Towing can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this guide we will walk you through choosing the right tires for your job.

Whether it’s for a one-time need or occasional hauling, our tips will keep you safe on the road when towing heavy loads.

When choosing a tire for towing a heavy load, there are several factors to consider. Tire size and type are the two main pieces of information that will determine which tires will be right for your vehicle or trailer.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of selecting the best tires for heavier hauling, as well as explore a few more advanced considerations including load ratings, area coverage, and inflation pressure maintenance. Additionally, we’ll go over the differences between radial and bias-ply tires for towing and discuss how the wrong choice can lead to increased wear and reduced performance.

With the right knowledge in hand, you can find exactly the right tires for your needs!

Importance of choosing the right tires for towing heavy loads

When towing heavy loads, it is important to choose tires that can adequately support the weight of trailers, boats and other items. This is for safety reasons, as incorrect tire selection carries increased risks of blowouts and other problems. To ensure you are as safe as possible when towing heavy loads, it is necessary to know how to select tyres.

The average vehicle comes with tires that are only good for carrying lighter loads. This means those who plan on towing heavy items need to invest in the right pair of tires for their specific vehicles. Depending on the size and capacity of one’s vehicle and how often you tow heavyweight items, there are various different types of tires available from which choose from.

When selecting a tire for your needs, consider factors such as size (width and height), load capacity/weight rating, speed rating, construction type and tread pattern. Also think about the terrain your vehicle will be travelling over during your trips – you may need tires that provide strong traction on ice-covered or dirt roads. The right type of tyre will not just aid in performance but also offer better overall safety while travelling with a full payload!

Load Capacity

It is important to calculate the right load capacity needed for your vehicle when selecting tires for towing heavy loads. The load capacity of a tire is the maximum weight that the tire can safely carry, and it is determined by both the size and type of tire you choose. All tires have an assigned Load Index (the maximum load capacity) marked on their sidewall – a number between 0 and 156. This number indicates how much weight each tire is rated to safely carry – smaller numbers mean less weight capacity while higher numbers mean more weight capacity.

Different brands may offer different ratings, and it’s important to select the tires with the highest Load Index within your price range so that your tires are up for the task at hand. Additionally, some brands offer “LT” or “Light Truck” versions of their standard-sized tires which are designed with additional layers of construction for added durability when hauling heavier loads. Be sure to keep this in mind when shopping for your new tires as well!

Understanding load capacity rating

In order to choose the tires best suited for your specific towing needs, you first need to understand the load capacity ratings for tires. Load capacity ratings are printed on a tire’s sidewall and provide important information about the maximum amount of weight that a tire can safely support.In most cases, two ratings are provided: the load index rating and the maximum loads at specific pressure. It is important to select tires that can support both your vehicle’s combined weight (including cargo and passengers) and any additional payloads such as trailers, campers, etc.

It is also essential to select tires with proper speed ratings for your application. Speed ratings indicate how fast you can travel safely when properly loaded — a higher speed rating (for example “H”) means that you can drive faster without compromising safety or performance. In general, passenger vehicle tires are rated for speeds up to 130 mph; light truck/SUV/UTV tire may be rated at up to 118mph; and heavier duty truck/SUV/UTV tire may be rated up to 112 mph. Even if you do not plan on driving at high speeds it is important to check the speed ratings on your tires for their compatibility with your vehicle and application so that you always travel safely.

Calculating the load capacity needed for your towing vehicle

When selecting the tires for your towing vehicle, it’s important to consider the load capacity they need to provide. Load capacity is an important factor in determining the longevity, performance, and safety of a vehicle’s tires and is measured with two different ratings. Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) measures how much weight the axle can support and individual tire rating (load index or service descriptors) measures how much a single tire can bear.

The load capacity is calculated by calculating the gross weight of all items you will be carrying in your vehicle including passengers, and contents — minus any weight taken off at hitch — divided by two to arrive at total load per axle. The total of all tires on each side must meet or exceed this amount, but there is no benefit from having all tires be rated at, or above this number; any combination of tire ratings that add up to meet or exceed that number are fine. For example: if you determine that each side needs 1,800 pounds for the gross weight then two 990-pound wheels on one side and one 825-pound wheel on the other will work just fine as long as your total GAWR matches that value as well.

Always refer to manufacturer recommendations when replacing or adding new tires to ensure maximum safety and performance.

 Tread Design

The tread design of the tire is an important factor when choosing tires for towing heavy loads. It affects the grip of the tire on wet and dry surfaces and it also plays a significant role in its ability to dissipate heat from the tire which reduces its propensity for failure during extended use.

Most heavy-duty tires feature a wide contact area with large lateral grooves that divert large amounts of water from beneath the tread, helping to maintain Traction control. Tread blocks are designed with variable angles that increase Traction control in wet conditions, reduce rolling resistance and create a more stable contact patch for increased Durability and performance. The wider contact patch helps provide better balance by minimizing sway which enables more precise cornering.

The tread design should also be considered depending on your location or terrain you are travelling through. Common choices vary greatly based on terrain, climate and vehicle usage but typically include all season/all terrain, mud terrain (MT) or highway all season that provide enhanced Traction control on different terrains and environments.

Types of tread patterns for towing

When shopping for the right tires for towing heavy loads, there are a few factors to consider: the type of terrain you will be driving on, the load capacity of the tire, and the type of tread pattern.

The type of tread pattern you select should depend primarily on where you will be driving your vehicle. Different tread patterns offer different levels of grip and traction on different surfaces. Generally speaking, treads with more siping provide more traction in wet conditions while treads with fewer sipes are better suited for dry conditions.

In general, it is a good idea to choose a lug-patterned tire when towing heavy loads as this style tends to provide both good grip and durability. The deeper and wider grooves ensure that road debris is caught in between, providing extra traction in most weather and surface conditions. However, if you expect that your route will contain an abundance of mud or off-road excursions from time-to-time, then an all-terrain tire may be best suited for your needs. All-terrain tires feature many sipes among its larger lugs designed to dig into softer surfaces such as mud and snow which can provide more grip and stability in these conditions compared to lug-patterned tires.

Towing - Wikipedia

Choosing the appropriate tread pattern for your towing needs

Different terrain types often require different tire tread patterns to provide adequate grip and stability when towing. Tires designed for highway use generally have smoother tread designs which require less noise and resist hydroplaning, while off-road tires have more aggressive patterns with deeper grooves, knobs and flat tread blocks that increase traction.

The tire’s compound choice is also an important factor when considering the type of performance you’ll need. For example, softer rubber mixture compounds are typically found in off-road tires for enhanced grip and traction, but for highway commuting especially in wet conditions, harder rubber compounds are recommended for better hydroplaning resistance which improves safety.

When choosing tires for towing heavy loads on highways or mountainous roads with tight curves it’s recommended to look for the best possible traction from the stop/start driving cycles. This is where symmetrical and asymmetrical tire designs come into play due to their improved uninterrupted and dynamic contact patch compared to directional pattern designs, even though directional tires contribute excellent high speed stability during long trips as well as enhanced comfort levels. Always consult with a certified technician before making any decisions on your specific vehicle’s towing needs based on your approach of usage.

Tire Size

The size of tire you need to use when towing heavy loads will depend on the load and the specific vehicle you intend to tow it with. Towing large loads requires larger tires than those designed for lighter load capacity. You should consult your manufacturer’s guidelines for selecting the appropriate tire size before purchasing any tires.

Load ratings are indicated with a number which indicates a particular load capacity range in pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the number, the greater the load capacity. Use an appropriate size fuel-efficient, all-season or all-weather tread design to enable even wear and tear over time.

Tire sizes may also be identified by their dimensions including width, aspect ratio, rim size and speed rating, as well as by their type (radial or bias ply) that is listed after the rim size and speed rating designations. This can include light truck (LT), medium truck (MT) or heavy duty truck (HDT) identifiers as well.

Tire brands are an important consideration when shopping for an adequate tow tire because some manufacturers specialize in certain classes of vehicles such as cars, light-duty trucks, vans and SUVs or heavier weight classes such as commercial trucks or trailers that require specialized tires designed for commercial applications.

Understanding tire size

Multiple measurements are below for each tire size such as the Size Measurement and Service Description, which are represented by the Load Index and Speed Rating. The Service Description is an alphanumeric code (for example: P185/65R15 87H).

The first measure of tire size is the type of car, truck, or SUV it fits. The following notations identify a vehicle’s tires:

-P – Passenger Car
-LT – Light Truck
-T – Temporary
-ST – Special Trailer

For example, a P means ‘passenger car’ and represents the tire’s width. The second number (185) is the diameter of the sidewall in millimeters; 65 is the aspect ratio or profile; R stands for radial construction; 15 is its rim diameter in inches.

The third measurement (87) known as ‘Load Index,’ shows how much weight each tire can carry at one time given its thickness which is also known as Ply Rating or simply ‘PLY.’ The higher this number is, the more weight your tire can safely carry. And lastly, there appears a speed rating letter (H) which shows your tire’s designed speed capability ranging from A to Z with A being lower than Z in terms of speed capability. It signifies how fast your tires are rated for under standard conditions such as temperature and pressure.

Choosing the right tire size for your towing vehicle

When choosing the tire size for your towing vehicle, you will need to consider several factors, including the weight of the cargo you are carrying and the type of terrain you plan to drive on. The wrong tire size could lead to safety issues, so it is important to make sure you get it right when selecting tires for your heavy load.

Vehicle manufacturers typically provide a recommended tire size that is designed to provide optimal performance under various conditions. It may be best to stick with this recommendation, especially if there are minimal changes in vehicle loading. Before selecting a tire size however, always check with your vehicle manufacturer’s suggested rating chart as different sizes may carry different load ratings.

When making your selection of tire size for heavier loads and off-road driving, consider tires in larger sizes or wide-base options that can offer improved traction and handling while maintaining minimal noise and treadwear. Additionally, some all-terrain or mud terrain tires have deeper tread patterns and better sidewall protection that can give better traction over more rugged surfaces than most highway/all-season tires.

Finally, as with any purchase of automobile parts/accessories, ensuring compatibility should be a primary concern when selecting any type of new wheels or tires for your vehicle. Make sure that the chosen wheel/tire combination is rated for both load capacity and speed before purchase; otherwise mismatched wheels could cause serious handling issues for both driver and vehicle alike.

Trailer and Tire Do's and Don'ts: Answers to Common Questions - Les Schwab


In conclusion, choosing the right tires for your towing needs is not a simple task. You must be sure to select a tire that will provide an adequate amount of traction, load capacity, and durability for your vehicle. We recommend opting for an all-terrain or mud-terrain tire with a heavy load rating to ensure maximum performance and safety.

Load ratings are extremely important when purchasing tires for towing purposes, as having tires that are not properly rated can cause serious damage or failure. Additionally, if you plan on making frequent trips in bad weather conditions, consider investing in winter-specific tires that are designed to handle extreme cold temperatures and slushy surfaces.

Lastly, don’t forget to rotate and inspect your tires routinely in order to ensure they remain up-to-date and in good condition. With this knowledge of axle dimensions, load ratings and tire selection criteria you should feel more informed when shopping for your next set of high performance trailer tires!


What tire rating for heavy towing?

Tires with a higher load range rating, such as Load Range E or F, are recommended for heavy towing.

Do tires matter when towing?

Yes, tires play a crucial role in towing. Properly rated tires with adequate load capacity and appropriate inflation levels are important for safe and stable towing.

Are 10 ply tires better for towing?

Tires with higher ply ratings tend to have higher load capacities, so 10-ply tires may be better for towing heavier loads.

How do you calculate tire load for towing?

To calculate tire load for towing, you need to know the weight of your vehicle and trailer, the weight distribution between the axles, and the tire load capacity rating. A tire professional or the tire manufacturer can help with the calculation.

Are thicker tires better for towing?

Thicker tires are not necessarily better for towing. It’s the load capacity rating that matters, which can vary among tires of different thicknesses.

Are load range E tires good for towing?

Yes, Load Range E tires are a popular choice for towing as they have a higher load capacity rating compared to lower load range tires.

Should I put more air in rear tires when towing?

Yes, the tire manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure for the rear tires should be increased when towing to compensate for the additional weight.

What should you not do when towing?

You should not exceed the weight limits of your vehicle and trailer, drive at high speeds, make sudden maneuvers, or neglect routine maintenance of your towing equipment.

How can I improve my towing stability?

Improving towing stability can be done by distributing weight evenly, ensuring proper tire inflation, using a weight distribution hitch, and using trailer sway control devices.

Can you tow with all season tires?

Yes, all season tires can be used for towing, but it’s important to check the load capacity rating and inflation levels to ensure they are appropriate for the weight being towed.

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