• How To Choose the Best Tires for Your Trailer

    One of the most important parts of any road trip is your tires. Having the right tires on your vehicle is essential, but so are the tires on your trailer, whether you’re pulling a camper, fifth wheel, boat, or utility trailer. To help you avoid issues and to get the most from your trailer, we’ve compiled some quick trailer tire tips.


    New Trailer? Bring it to Les Schwab

    Anytime you buy a new or used trailer, bring it to your local Les Schwab. We’ll check the tire air pressure, wheel torque, and make sure you have a spare along with the proper tools to change a tire when you’re on the road. If you’re interested in a set of custom wheels or specialized tires for that trailer, we can show you plenty of options.

    Did you know? Some trailers, new or used, don’t always come with a spare and/or may require specialty tools for installation. For free advice, stop by Les Schwab.


    You Have Choices

    Depending on the trailer and the size, you may be able to find LT (Light Truck) tires that work for your trailer. This can help with aesthetics (when you want your trailer tires to match the ones on your vehicle). Or you can simply stick with ST (Specialty Tires), which include radial and bias construction options.


    The Difference Between Radial and Bias

    ST tires come in many sizes. These include radial and bias. Each offer different performance. Radial tires are constructed with belts running at a 90 degree angle of the tread center line.

    Radial tire cross section showing ply direction

    Radial tires tend to last longer overall, and they are less likely to develop flat spots when parked for extended periods of time. Radial tires perform well at highway speeds, dissipate heat better, and offers lower rolling resistance for a smoother ride.

    Bias tire cross section showing ply angles

    Bias ply tires are constructed with belts running at a 30-45 degree angle of the tread center line. Bias sidewalls can be stiffer than radials which could reduce trailer sway and increase stability when the trailer is loaded.

    Les Schwab Tip: Whether you choose bias or radial tires, stick with the same type, size, and load range on all wheel positions on your trailer.


    Know Your Trailer’s Limitations

    Check your trailer for its weight capacity. This number will be based on its axle rating. Increasing your tire load-carrying capacity does not increase the weight-carrying capacity of your trailer. If you stay within its load capacity, you’ll reduce your chances of an issue – especially if you are using the proper tires. See the example below.

    Travel trailer placard showing maximum load.
    Vehicle placard (on a travel trailer) shows the GVWR and the maximum cargo weight.

    Be sure the tires on your trailer meet or exceed the trailer’s GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, which is the trailer’s maximum operating weight, including cargo) shown above.

    Sidewall of tire with max load called out for single and dual applications.

    The maximum load (carrying capacity) is only met when trailer tires are inflated to their maximum pressure. When tires are underinflated, it will decrease the load-carrying capacity and the speed they can travel. Never exceed a tire’s maximum air pressure.


    Les Schwab Knows Trailer Tires

    Stop by your Local Les Schwab and let our team help you choose the best tires for your trailer, or care for your existing tires before you head out on your next outdoor adventure.


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  • Get Your Boat Trailer Ready for a Safe Season

    When warm-weather recreation is calling your name, it’s hard not to answer. Especially if you have a boat sitting in your driveway. But, before you hit the highway with that watercraft in tow, we’ve put together a quick boat trailer inspection checklist to help you and your family get to the lake or river safely.


  • The Importance of Trailer Brakes and Wheel Bearings

    Anytime you hook up your trailer and venture out into traffic, you’re putting a lot of faith in your wheel bearings and trailer brakes. When they stop working properly, it can end your outing fast. Here’s what those parts of your trailer do and why regular inspections should be an important part of your pre-adventure ritual.

    If you have questions about trailer tires and wheels, be sure to check out Trailer Tires Dos and Dont’s.


    What Are Trailer Brakes

    A trailer uses drum or disk brakes similar to those on a passenger vehicle. The brakes on most trailers are activated when the tow vehicle sends it an electric signal. This signal is transferred through the same vehicle trailer connector that manages the turn signals and brake lights.

    Does Your Trailer Have Brakes?

    All trailers are required to have electric brakes if their GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) exceeds 4,500 lbs. If you have a bigger or older trailer, it may have brakes. Not sure if your trailer has brakes? Stop by Les Schwab and we’ll take a look.

    Every State Has Trailer Brake Requirements

    Be sure to check the rules where your trailer is registered and where you’ll be traveling. Some states require you have brakes based on the GVW of the trailer, while others base the need on the total percentage of the GW of the towing vehicle when connected to a trailer.

    Trailer Brakes Minimize Wear on Your Tow Vehicle

    When you don’t have brakes on a camp trailer, your tow vehicle will need to do all the work to stop the trailer. This might not be a problem when going up into the mountains, but can overheat your vehicle’s brakes when you’re coming back down. We’ve put together some added information if you want to learn more about brakes.


    An Introduction to Wheel Bearings

    The wheel bearings on a trailer are located inside the wheel hub assembly. This connects the wheel to the axle to help provide friction-free movement. Without your wheel bearings, your tire and wheel assembly cannot spin.

    Trailer on jack with wheel hub exposed

    Wheel Bearings Are Essential

    While properly greased wheel bearings help your wheels spin freely, faulty wheel bearings can do the exact opposite. Without properly working wheel bearings, you won’t be pulling your trailer very far. At best, the wheels could seize up, which could leave you stranded on the side of the road or at your campsite. Worst case, those wheels could lock up while you’re on the highway going 60 MPH. Both options are not ideal.

    Get Them Inspected Regularly

    Even if your trailer came with bearings that you can grease on your own, it’s not a bad idea to have them inspected. You can get too much grease into your bearings, which can cause issues. Swing by Les Schwab and we’ll give them a quick look. We can also talk to you about a regularly scheduled maintenance plan to keep you one step ahead of potential issues.


    Les Schwab Knows Trailers

    Stop by Les Schwab and we’ll inspect your trailer bearings and brakes. Our pros know how to repack or even replace the bearings, and can get your brakes working like new. Depending on the trailer, we’ll check out your suspension too. That includes the springs, shackles and shocks.


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