How Do I Know What Tire Is Right For My Travel Trailer Or 5th-Wheel?
When it comes to getting new tires for your trailer the choices can seem endless. There are many debates on whether or not ST (specialty tires) are the best for a trailer or if LT (light truck) tires are better. You can find debate after debate but no matter what opinion you read there are a few things that hold true when it comes to trailer tires,
First, it’s usually better to go with the tire that’s made for trailers. LT tires are built with thinner sidewalls than trailer (ST) tires and aren’t as good for holding a vertical load. In only a few specific applications are LT tires acceptable to use with a trailer and they’re not usually a better option.
Second, there are two kinds of ST tires, radial, and bias. Bias tires are made with belts that stretch across the tire at 30-45° angles to create a stiff yet durable tire. They are excellent for use in farm and construction applications and a great choice for utility trailers. Radial tires have a belt that stretches across the tire at a 90° angle and is much better for highway trailers like RVs and ATV trailers. They last longer, create less heat (less likely to have blowouts) and ride smoother.
Because this article is about the best travel trailer and 5th-wheel tires I’m only going to be reviewing radial trailer tires because they are the best option for the common RVer and full-timer.
Side note: never mix bias trailer tires with radial ones. All the tires on your travel trailer or 5th-wheel need to be the same.
Lastly, size and load ratings are everything. You need to get the right size of tire to not only fit the rims but also to match the axel and max trailer weight rating. Your trailer can only take as much as the axels can so remember getting tires that can take more weight won’t necessarily increase your trailers load capacity.
You can read more about finding out where the information on your trailers load capacity and the size of tires you will need at the end of this article. You will also find information on what the different ply and C, D, and E ratings mean.
Best Trailer Tire
Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to view all products in the table.
Goodyear makes some of the best tires you can get, and their trailer tires are highly recommended and trusted by RVers. The sidewall use durawall technology which makes them resistant to punctures, cuts and scuffs.
They are radial tires which mean better, cooler towing and less chance of a blowout. The polyester material and steel belts are strong, durable, and great for towing heavy loads.
The speed rating for these trailer tires is 87 mph. That’s fast for a travel trailer or 5th-wheel and it’s not recommended to go over 65 mph when towing but if you want the option to go faster then Goodyear Endurance has you covered.
Whether you are towing a single axle travel trailer or a large triple axle 5th-wheel there is a size of Goodyear Endurance trailer tires for everyone.
You can get the smaller ST205/75R15 107N (click to view on Amazon) which is rated for 1,700 lbs. This size of trailer tire is most likely to be found on smaller travel trailers. They also have a few versions of the larger ST235/80R16 123N (click to view on Amazon) which is rated for up to 3,417 lbs. This size is common on large 5th-wheels and toy haulers.
The standard ST225/75R15 117N linked to above is rated for 2,833 lbs and is perfect for large travel trailers with a total GVWR of around 9,000 lbs.
Be sure to check the recommended tire size on the information sticker on your trailer before purchasing RV tires. And always go by the GVWR weight and not just the ply or load rating as it is different depending on the brand of trailer tire.
The Goodyear Endurance All Season Radial Trailer Tires are the best option for every style of camper whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time RVer. They will keep you safe on the road and last much longer than other brands of tires. I highly recommend Goodyear tires and they are my top choice for the best trailer tire overall.
- Excellent Brand
- High Quality
- Durawall Technology
- Run Cool (Less Blowout Chance)
- Many Different Size & Ply Options
- Made In USA
- Least Affordable Option
I talk a lot about how great Goodyear trailer tires are but Maxxis runs at a close second and is the top trailer tire choice for lots of RVers.
The Maxxis M8008 is a radial trailer tire made with steel belts and come with full nylon caps in the larger tire sizes for increased durability and strength. They are known for their shock absorption capabilities, and smooth towing for any size of trailer. The tread is designed to decrease roll resistance and can even increase gas mileage on long camping trips.
The speed rating on most Maxxis M8008 trailer tires is 65 mph. The tires are technically built to withstand much higher speeds but Maxxis keeps their trailer tires rated for 65 mph due to an agreement with the Tire & Rim Association.
The standard ST225/75R15 is 8 ply and rated for 2,540 lbs. If you have a larger travel trailer that weighs around 9,000 lbs like me you may want to consider getting the 10 ply version (click to view on Amazon) which is rated for 2,830 lbs at 80 psi. Just make sure your rims are compatible with that high of air pressure.
There is also the smaller version available like the ST205/75R15 BSW (click to view on Amazon) which is 6 ply and rated for 1,820 lbs. And the larger that is 10 ply and rated for up to 3,420 lbs. It’s a common size for 5th-wheels that are around 12,000 lbs.
The Maxxis M8008 ST Radial Trailer Tire is another fantastic choice for any kind of camper. Whether you are about to head out on a long camping trip or just take your trailer out every weekend you can never be too careful about the quality of trailer tire you get. Maxxis is a great contender to the Goodyear Endurance and if their load ratings and specs match your trailer better it’s a great choice.
- Excellent Brand
- High Quality
- Double Steel Belt Construction
- Advanced Tread Pattern For Better Rolling
- Fantastic Shock Absorption
- Many Different Size & Ply Options
- Lighter Load Rating Than Other Brands
- Made In Thailand
Carlisle tires are made by the Carlstar Group which is one of the top producers of specialty tires like trailer tires. They’ve been making tires for years and their Trail HD tire is another favorite among full-time RVers and weekenders.
The Trail HD tire is a radial trailer tire made for distance and durability. The tread is designed to keep the tire running cool to reduce the risk of blowouts and is compatible with a wide range of trailers including RVs, horse trailers, toy trailers, and boat trailers.
The new HD version is made to be a direct replacement for their older Trail RH models. If you’re a long time Carlilse tire fan you won’t be disappointed by the Trail HD’s.
The ST 225/75R15 117 M linked to in the picture above is a 10 ply trailer tire rated for 2,830 lbs at 80 PSI. If you have a smaller trailer you can get the ST205/75R15 107M (click to view on Amazon) which is an 8 ply that has a load capacity of 2,150 at 65 PSI.
They also have a high speed rating of 81 mph on smaller versions and 87 on larger ones. If you want peace of mind knowing that your trailer tires can take going much faster than 65 mph if ever needed.
Side note: most travel trailers and 5th-wheels are not rated to go faster than 65 mph. This is a structural rating and getting faster tires doesn’t change the standard 65 mph recommendation.
If you have a larger 5th-wheel or toy hauler there is also the ST235/80R16 124L (click to view on Amazon) which is a 10 ply with a load rating of E and 3,520 lbs.
The Carlisle Radial Trail HD Trailer Tires are another trusted trailer tire that will keep you and your RV safe on the road. This brand has been around for a long time and a lot of RVers swear by them. If the weight ratings and sizes fit your trailer they are a fantastic choice.
- Excellent Brand
- High Quality
- Advanced Tread Pattern For Cooler Running & Even Wear
- Many Different Size & Ply Options
- High Speed Rating
- Made In China
Final Thoughts On The Best Travel Trailer & 5th-Wheel Tires
You may have noticed that I only recommend 3 brands of trailer tires. When I review and recommend products I do extensive research and use my own knowledge and experience as a full-time RVer to give the best information I can. When it comes to trailer tires you should never sacrifice quality, it could be a fatal mistake in the wrong circumstances.
There are tons of trailer tires out there and while some weekend RVers may have no problem with other brands, I can only recommend what I think are the safest and best trailer tires on the market today.
That being said accidents do happen and there is no tire that is immune to blowouts and flats but Goodyear, Maxxis, and Carlisle are three amazing tire companies that produce excellent trailer tires that have been tried and tested by many RVers.
If you use quality trailer tires like these, keep them fully inflated, and never drive faster than the recommended 65 mph speed your chances of blowouts are greatly decreased. This will not only keep you but others safer on the road as you travel to your next great adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
ST vs LT Tires (trailer tires vs light truck tires)
You may have had a dealer or RVer suggest using LT tires on your travel trailer or 5th-wheel. Some feel that LT tires can be the better option for certain kinds of trailers and they like the look of having the same tires on their trailer as their truck.
After much research and asking questions, the general consensus seems to be that in the end, ST (specialty tires) for trailers are the best option in the long run. They are made with stronger sidewalls and able to take more vertical weight than LT tires and you won’t risk losing your trailer’s warranty.
What Causes A Trailer Tire To “Blowout”?
Heat is the number one cause of trailer tire blowouts and the main reason you should always get a trailer tire that is rated for the weight of your trailer and always have it inflated to the maximum PSI. A slightly flat tire builds up heat as it rolls down the road, that’s why flat tires can blowout really fast.
What Do The Numbers On Trailer Tires Mean?
If your trailer has the right tires the first letters you will see will be ST which means specialty tires. In certain cases, the previous owner or dealer may have put LT (light truck) tires on your trailer. The debate on whether or not LT tires are ok for a travel trailer or 5th-wheels is still ongoing but for now, the general consensus is that ST tires are still the best for trailers.
The numbers that come after ST are what indicate the width of the tire in millimeters. Common numbers for trailers are 205, 225, and 235. Make sure you always get the number that is listed on the information sticker which is located somewhere on your RV. (Check the door or near the front storage area)
The next number is the aspect ratio (ratio of height to width) on trailers it will usually be 75 and sometimes 80 depending on the rim size.
The next letter “R” stands for radial. If your travel trailer has a D instead of an R that means they are Diagonal or Bias tires and you may want to change them out for radial tires as they are longer lasting and offer smoother towing for RV trailers.
The last number will be rim diameter. Many travel trailers have standard 15″ rims but you will sometimes see 14 and even 16 inch ones. Make sure you check the tires on your trailer as well as the sticker as people will sometimes get new rims.
On the information sticker that tells you what kind of tires your trailer is compatible with the tire code will sometimes end with a C, D, or E. This indicates the recommended tire load rating you should buy for your trailer.
Not all tires are made equal, make sure you also check the GVWR of your trailer and the load rating of each tire to make sure the tires you get can take the max weight of your trailer when combined.
What Does The C, D, and E Load Rating And Ply Rating Mean On A Trailer Tire?
Load Range and Ply Ratings normally work together to mean the same kinds of things, I’ll illustrate it in the table below.
|Load Range||Ply Rating||Maximum Load Pressure|
There’s no exact weight rating for each load range and every manufacturer is going to have their specific load rating a little different so make sure you get those numbers before you purchase.
Is It Ok To Get Tires With A Bigger Load Range Than What’s Recommended For My Trailer?
Yes, it’s technically ok to get tires with a higher load range for your trailer but it’s not always necessary. Some people believe if you get a bigger tire that it will be more durable, in some cases this is true but if you buy the right size of quality tires and keep them fully inflated you shouldn’t have blowouts.
Remember that a trailer can only carry as much as what the axel is rated for and getting tires with a higher weight capacity will not change the GVWR of your trailer. Getting tires that are too strong may result in a rougher ride for your trailer.
How Do I Calculate The Right Trailer Tire Load/Weight Rating For My Trailer?
Load range and ply ratings are great to use as a reference but what it all comes down to is getting tires that can take at least the max weight of your trailer. Many people say you should get tires that are rated for at least 20% more than what your trailer can weigh in total.
To find out what the total weight of your trailer can be or the GVWR check the information sticker usually located inside the door or sometimes on the outside near the front.
I’ll use my travel trailer as an example. The GVWR is 9,000 lbs. if I just take that number and divide it by 4 it means that I need trailer tires rated for at least 2,250 lbs. Maxing out the tire weight rating isn’t a good idea so if I use the rule to always get tires rated for 20% over my trailers GVWR then I’m going to need tires that can take at least 2,700 lbs. (9,000 x 0.2 = 1,800 I 1,800+9,000=10,800 I 10,800/4=2,700)
When Should I Replace My Trailer Tires?
Trailer tires will last anywhere from 3-6 years depending on how often you camp. If you’re a full-time RVer you may end up having to replace your tires even more often than that.
The minimum legal tread depth in the United States is 2/32 inches in every major groove. Getting your trailer tires down this low is putting you and your RV at risk. You may want to consider changing them before the tread gets this bad, especially before a long trip.
One quick way to check the tread on your trailer tires is to do the penny test. Take a penny and put it between your trailer tire threads with Lincolns head pointing down. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head the tire’s tread is at or below 2/32 inches and you should replace your trailer tires immediately.
Even if the tread looks ok if it has been more than 6 years you should seriously consider replacing the trailer tires anyways. Even in good storage tires can get dry and start to crack over time. Blowouts happen easier with old tires and they can be very dangerous for not only you and your trailer but also other people on the road.
Can You Put Car Tires On A Trailer?
No, car tires are referred to as passenger tires and they aren’t made to take as much weight as a trailer tire. Some people will put light truck tires on lighter travel trailers but even doing that isn’t recommend by most tire or RV manufacturers.
The safest way to go is with tires that are made for the kind of vehicle or trailer you have. Always make sure the weight rating of the tires is enough for the total weight your trailer or RV is rated for.
Should I Inflate My Trailer Tires To The Max PSI?
Yes, in order for a trailer tire to be able to give the load rating it was made for it must be inflated to the max PSI. That’s why it’s important to get a trailer tire that is not too small or too large for your trailer. If you get a trailer tire that has too high of a max PSI it will beat up your trailer at making towing more difficult.
Also if you don’t inflate the trailer tire to the right PSI the extra surface area of the tire will build up excessive heat at possibly cause a blowout.
Do Trailer Tires Need To Be Balanced?
Yes and no. Trailer tires do not need to be balanced like a car does but you do need to have a balanced load in your trailer to reduce sway and excessive wear on one side of the trailer.
Why Do Trailer Tires Wear Out So Fast?
Trailer tires have to put up with a lot, whether it’s from rocks on the road or uneven weight distribution. It’s also a common misconception that trailer tires don’t need to be inflated to the max psi. When not inflated to the max psi trailer tires wear out faster and don’t have the full load capacity they were rated for.
The backing is also another reason trailer tires wear out so fast especially 5th-wheel tires because 5th-wheels can back at much sharper angles than travel trailers. One tire is always going to be taking more of a beating than the other three which is why you should get your trailer tires rotated just like you do on a vehicle.
Have any more questions about trailer tires? Leave a comment below.