• How To Choose the Best Tires for Your Trailer

    Having the right set of tires on your vehicle is essential for any road trip, 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 pick the right tires for your needs, we’ve compiled some quick trailer tire tips.

    Need New Tires for your Trailer? Come 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, the torque on the lug nuts, double-check your spare, and give the wheel bearings an inspection. The pros will also show you what you need in your vehicle to change a flat tire on an RV or trailer when you’re on the road. If you’re interested in a set of custom wheels or specialized tires for your trailer, we can show you plenty of options.

    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 your local Les Schwab.

    You Have Choices

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

    Choose the Right Trailer Tires for Your Needs

    Whether you’re hauling a boat, camper, or livestock, it’s important the tires you choose match the weight capacity of your trailer, provide heat distribution to avoid tire failure, hold up to highway speeds, and provide stability.

    Boat Trailer Tires

    The tires on your boat trailer matter. Similar to travel trailer tires, you can choose between ST (Special Trailer) tires and LT (Light Truck) tires. In most cases, ST tires, which are designed to carry heavy loads, reduce swaying, and improve stability, are the best choice.

    Travel and Fifth-Wheel Trailer Tires

    At Les Schwab, we carry tires for fifth-wheel trailers, bumper-pull trailers, pop-up campers and more. The professionals at Les Schwab can help you decide between ST (Special Trailer) tires and LT (Light Truck) tires, depending on your needs, what you drive, and what you’re towing. While LT tires can be used to match what is on your tow vehicle, ST tires offer improved fuel economy with shallower grooves, improved stability and reduced swaying at highway speeds.

    Utility/Livestock Trailer Tires

    Whether you’re taking your favorite critter, UTV, ATV, snowmobile, or dirt bike out for the weekend, or you use your utility trailer for work, Les Schwab can help you decide on the right trailer tires.

    The Difference Between Radial and Bias Construction Types

    Trailer tires come in many sizes. These include radial and bias. Each of these perform differently. Radial tires are constructed with belts running at a 90 degree angle of the tread centerline.

    Radial tire cross section showing ply direction

    Radial tires tend to last longer overall and are less likely to develop flat spots when parked for extended periods of time (some trailers are parked over the winter). Radial tires perform well at highway speeds, dissipate heat better, and offer 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 centerline. While bias sidewalls can offer stiffness to reduce trailer sway and increase stability for specific needs, bias ply tires may be limited in availability. Today’s standard trailers often perform better overall with radial tires.

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

    Know Your Trailer and Tire 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. Our team will help you choose the best tires for your trailer. They’ll also take a look at the overall condition of your current trailer tires, check for cracks around the valve stems, top-off your tire pressure, and show you how much life is left in those 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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