How to Choose the Right Truck Tire
Choosing the right tires for your vehicle is an important decision. When you drive a light truck, SUV, or crossover, the tires you choose can have a direct impact on traction, comfort, road noise, tread life, and durability. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide what truck tires are the right fit for your on- and off-road needs.
H/T (Highway Terrain) Tires for Daily Commute and Highway Driving
Chances are your SUV, crossover, or light truck came standard with a set of H/T tires built for highway driving. If you don’t plan on going off-road, and want a tire that’s great for dry and wet road conditions, then an H/T tire is probably a good option.
- Smooth and quiet ride
- Wet weather performance
- Long tread life
Les Schwab Tip: H/T tires aren’t designed for prolonged use on gravel roads or in off-road conditions. If you plan to take your vehicle off the highway, it may be best to upgrade to an A/T tire for better traction and performance.
A/T (All-Terrain) Tires for On- and Off-Road Performance
Drivers who regularly find themselves taking dirt and gravel roads in between long stretches of highway driving, should look at A/T tires. This includes folks who like to take the road less traveled on their way to a great camping spot or other outdoor activity.
The deeper tread design is optimized for a comfortable ride on pavement, but built to grip in other conditions. Additionally, some A/T tires are built for all-weather, year-round driving including snow and rain.
- More aggressive looks (gives your vehicle a great appearance)
- All-weather traction (including wet and winter conditions)
- Long tread life
Les Schwab Tip: Because A/T tires are more rugged than H/T, there can be a slight increase in road noise. However, A/T tires offer the best of both worlds with comfortable daily driving, off-road performance, and visual appeal.
M/T (Mud Terrain) Tires for Off-road Enthusiasts
You know who you are. You drive a rig that is either lifted or already offers plenty of clearance for your favorite pastime: driving in extreme off-road conditions, including mud, dirt, gravel, and rock. Or maybe you just like the way a set of rugged, aggressive tires looks on your vehicle, even if they never leave the blacktop. Either way, M/T tires are for you.
- Aggressive looks
- Maximum durability
- Ultimate traction in mud, dirt, rocks, and gravel
Les Schwab Tip: M/T tires were first created for military and forestry applications, which means they’re designed for extremely rugged conditions. Because of the special tread design, they can be noisier than A/T and H/T options.
Get the Right Tires for your Truck at Les Schwab
Our experts can give you advice based on your driving needs. Stop by today and we’ll get you safely back on the road with our best tire value promise at no charge, including our lifetime tire and mileage care, and peace-of-mind tire protection.
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Tire Rotation: It’s Preventive Care for Your Tires
Why should you get your tires rotated? Because it’s one of the easiest ways to extend the life of your tires and get the most miles out of them. And you only need to do it a couple of times a year.
- What is a Tire Rotation?
- Why Are Tire Rotations Important?
- How Often Should You Get a Tire Rotation?
- How Long Does a Tire Rotation Take?
- Tire Rotation Patterns
- How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost at Les Schwab?
Already know you need a tire rotation? Come visit us at one of our local stores or schedule an appointment.
What is a Tire Rotation?
Rotating the tires on your vehicle means moving them to different positions on your car or truck. This helps promote even tread wear on all four tires.
No matter how you drive, front and rear tires can wear at different rates. Tires that are mounted on the drive axle (the front two wheels on a front-wheel drive or back two on a rear-wheel drive) wear more quickly than the “free rolling” tires on the other axle.
Why Are Tire Rotations Important?
Properly rotated tires can make for a smoother ride. It can also extend the life of your tires, saving you both time and money. By rotating your tires, you even out the wear to get the most tread life from every tire. Regular rotations are equally important, even if you have an all-wheel drive vehicle.
How Often Should You Get a Tire Rotation?
A good rule of thumb is every 5,000 miles. Depending on your vehicle, driving style, and tire type, you may need to rotate your tires more or less often. If you’re not sure, stop by Les Schwab. We’ll help you come up with a rotation schedule.
Regular tire rotations can help spot uneven tire wear early. Going too long between rotations may result in a wear pattern that can’t be fixed, no matter where the tire is moved on the vehicle. These wear patterns could result in the need for new tires sooner than expected.
Here are some ways to remember your next rotation.
- Watch your odometer and get your vehicle in for a rotation every 5,000 miles.
- Put a rotation reminder on your calendar.
- Sign up for service reminders by providing your email address the next time you’re in a store.
- When you change your oil, check your mileage for a possible tire rotation.
How Long Does a Tire Rotation Take?
Getting your tires rotated every 5,000 miles is generally a pretty quick process. The professionals at Les Schwab will take the time to do a thorough tire rotation by also balancing your Les Schwab tires, checking your air pressure, doing a visual check of important safety systems, and documenting anything you should be aware of during the process. Once your vehicle is in our service bays, you can expect this procedure to be completed in about half an hour. Taking the time to make tire rotations a part of your normal vehicle maintenance regimen can add significant life to your tires, promote even tire wear for a smoother and more comfortable ride, and save you money in the long run.
Tire Rotation Patterns
The standard tire rotation is front-to-rear, but there are multiple patterns that could also help promote long tire life.
- Rear tires move to front on same side of vehicle
- Used when wear is normal, and also when tires have directional tread (are designed to roll in one direction)
Forward cross (for front-wheel drive vehicles)
- Front tires move straight back to the rear
- Rear tires cross to opposite sides on front
- Used when rear tires show uneven wear
X pattern (for all types of vehicles)
- Front tires shift to opposite rear positions
- Rear tires cross to opposite front positions
- Used when there’s uneven wear
Rearward cross (for all-wheel, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles)
- Rear tires move straight up to front
- Front tires cross to opposite rear positions
- Used when there’s uneven front-tire wear
Side-to-Side (for staggered (differently sized) wheels)
- Front two tires are moved to opposite sides on front axle
- Rear two tires are moved to opposite sides on back axle
What Tire Technicians Look for When Rotating Your Tires
Here’s what Les Schwab tire pros consider to properly rotate and position the tires on your vehicle.
- What kind of vehicle do you drive (front-, rear-, all-, four-wheel)?
- Do the tires show uneven wear? Where?
- Do they have directional tread?
- Are there any custom wheel-tire setup considerations, like staggered wheels (different wheel sizes on front and back)? Any offset concerns?
As always, check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations from the manufacturer.
How Much Does a Tire Rotation Cost at Les Schwab?
If you have Les Schwab tires on your vehicle, rotations are free for the life of those tires. Plus we balance your wheels as part of the service. Don’t have Les Schwab tires? Our pros can still help maximize the life of your tires. Stop by your local Les Schwab for a quick estimate.
Trust Les Schwab to Rotate Your Tires
Don’t put tire rotations off. This simple task can maximize the life of your tires. When you buy tires from Les Schwab, we rotate them for free on most vehicles. Plus, we provide free rotation reminders by email. Just ask at your local store.
Tire Size Explained: What the Numbers Mean
Tire size can be confusing. Some numbers on the sidewall are listed in millimeters while others are inches. Plus, the right size for your car, truck, or trailer can differ depending on where and how you drive.
You can see your original equipment tire size in your owner’s manual or on the placard generally located on the driver’s side door jam. This is the sizing recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
If you’re interested in switching out your tires for a different look or performance, a good place to start is the numbers and other indicators on your existing tires’ sidewall. Next, have a tire professional help you determine a tire size range that will fit your vehicle and driving needs.
Tire Size Meanings
Here’s what those numbers and indicators on the sidewall indicate and how to understand them:
A: TIRE TYPE The first letter in the code tells you what class of tire it is.
P stands for passenger vehicle tire. P-class tires include cars, SUVs, crossovers, minivans and smaller pickup trucks.
LT means light truck tire, designed for vehicles that are capable of carrying heavy loads, towing trailers, or for those looking for an extra heavy duty option. These are often equipped on three-quarter or 1 ton trucks and SUVs.
ST stands for Special Trailer. These tire sizes are meant for trailers, including fifth wheels and other travel trailers, as well as boat and utility trailers.
If there’s no letter before the first number, you have a metric tire most commonly referred to as European size. It’s also measured in millimeters but may have a different load capacity than a P or LT tire.
B: TIRE WIDTH The three-digit number following the letter is the tire’s width (from side to side, looking at the tire head on) in millimeters. This may also be referred to as the section width.
C: ASPECT RATIO The forward slash separates the tire width number from the two-digit aspect ratio. The bigger the aspect ratio, the higher/taller the tire’s sidewall, or “profile” as it’s sometimes called.
The aspect ratio is indicated on the tire sidewall as a percentage. It’s the height of the sidewall measured from wheel rim to top of the tread, expressed as a percentage of tire width.
In this example, the aspect ratio is 65, meaning the sidewall is 65 percent as high as the tire is wide. To get the sidewall height, take the tire width of 215 mm and convert it to inches (8.46). Then multiply this by 65% (.65). This gives you an answer of 5.5, the sidewall height in inches.
D: CONSTRUCTION TYPE This single letter tells you about the internal construction of the tire.
R is for radial tires, the industry standard for most tires today. They have better road grip, lower rolling resistance for better gas mileage, ride comfort and durability than previous generations of tires. In a radial tire, the plies — layers of strong cords made of a blend of polyester, steel and fabric and coated with rubber — are laid perpendicular to the direction of travel.
D is for tires built with diagonal (crisscrossed) plies, called bias-constructed tires. They are also called conventional, x-ply, or cross-ply tires. Some motorcycle and trailer tires still use this internal construction.
Some run-flat tires are identified with an F followed by the type of internal construction.
E: WHEEL DIAMETER This two-digit number specifies wheel diameter in inches. It’s the distance between the two bead seat areas (where a tire gets tightly sealed onto the wheel).
F: LOAD INDEX The two-digit or three-digit number that follows the gap specifies tire load index. The load index symbol indicates how much weight a tire can support, based on the following standard chart. In our example, the load index is 89, which indicates the tire has a load capacity of 1,279 pounds, when inflated to the tire’s maximum air pressure rating.
G: SPEED RATING The last letter is the tire speed rating. This indicates the top speed it’s safe to travel at for a sustained amount of time. A tire with a higher speed rating can handle heat better and provide more control at faster speeds. The maximum operating speed of a vehicle is no more than the lowest speed rating of all tires mounted on the vehicle. (Of course, you should always abide by speed limits for safer driving.) Speed rating is usually, but not always, a single letter (see the chart).
Tire Size Charts
Below you will find several charts that will help you understand tire sizing numbers, including a load index chart and speed rating chart.
LOAD INDEX LOAD (lbs) LOAD INDEX LOAD (lbs) LOAD INDEX LOAD (lbs) 65 639 94 1477 123 3417 66 661 95 1521 124 3527 67 677 96 1565 125 3638 68 694 97 1609 126 3748 69 716 98 1653 127 3858 70 739 99 1709 128 3968 71 761 100 1764 129 4079 72 783 101 1819 130 4189 73 805 102 1874 131 4299 74 827 103 1929 132 4409 75 853 104 1984 133 4541 76 882 105 2039 134 4674 77 908 106 2094 135 4806 78 937 107 2149 136 4938 79 963 108 2205 137 5071 80 992 109 2271 138 5203 81 1019 110 2337 139 5357 82 1047 111 2403 140 5512 83 1074 112 2469 141 5677 84 1102 113 2535 142 5842 85 1135 114 2601 143 6008 86 1168 115 2679 144 6173 87 1201 116 2756 145 6393 88 1235 117 2833 146 6614 89 1279 118 2910 147 6779 90 1323 119 2998 148 6944 91 1356 120 3086 149 7165 92 1389 121 3197 150 7385 93 1433 122 3307 LOAD INDEX LOAD (lbs) 65 639 66 661 67 677 68 694 69 716 70 739 71 761 72 783 73 805 74 827 75 853 76 882 77 908 78 937 79 963 80 992 81 1019 82 1047 83 1074 84 1102 85 1135 86 1168 87 1201 88 1235 89 1279 90 1323 91 1356 92 1389 93 1433 94 1477 95 1521 96 1565 97 1609 98 1653 99 1709 100 1764 101 1819 102 1874 103 1929 104 1984 105 2039 106 2094 107 2149 108 2205 109 2271 110 2337 111 2403 112 2469 113 2535 114 2601 115 2679 116 2756 117 2833 118 2910 119 2998 120 3086 121 3197 122 3307 123 3417 124 3527 125 3638 126 3748 127 3858 128 3968 129 4079 130 4189 131 4299 132 4409 133 4541 134 4674 135 4806 136 4938 137 5071 138 5203 139 5357 140 5512 141 5677 142 5842 143 6008 144 6173 145 6393 146 6614 147 6779 148 6944 149 7165 150 7385
SPEED SYMBOL SPEED (mph) A1 3 A2 6 A3 9 A4 12 A5 16 A6 19 A7 22 A8 25 B 31 C 37 D 40 E 43 F 50 G 56 J 62 K 68 L 75 M 81 N 87 P 93 Q 99 R 106 S 112 T 118 U 124 H 130 V 149 ZR* W 168 Y 186 (Y) Above 186
*For tires having a maximum speed capability above 149 mph, a ZR may appear in the size designation... above 186 mph, a ZR must appear in the size designation, including a Y speed symbol in brackets.
Buying New Wheels or Changing Your Tire Size?
A tire size calculator is a quick way to see whether the tire size you’re considering will likely fit your car, SUV, sports car, light truck or crossover.
But remember that is only an estimate. It’s important to stay within the sizing tolerances of your vehicle. Tires that are the wrong size could cause some pull in the steering wheel, rub against the suspension or body of your vehicle, reduce clearance on hills, or result in a stiffer or noisier ride.
If you’re considering mounting a different tire size on your vehicle, check with a tire expert. Find out whether the tires and wheels you have your eye on are the right fit for your vehicle’s suspension, gearing, and bodywork. And ask how any differences in revolutions per mile, tire speed, load index, and speed rating will affect your ride quality and vehicle performance.
See how new tires and rims will look on your car or truck using our Virtual Wheels simulator, available at any Les Schwab.