Spring has sprung! Soon we’ll be hitting the roads with our toys in tow. Before you go, here’s what you should know about the role your tires play.

If you are like most of us, your vehicle is being used for multiple purposes, especially if it is a truck or SUV. Most likely, you need to haul more than just people, so you may have a need to tow a trailer, boat or camper. So how does this affect your tire choice?

Many people and businesses choose a ½-ton truck/SUV as their preferred vehicle, particularly if towing is part of the job. There are times, however, when the stock tires will not provide a level of load capacity or grip needed to get the job done. In this case, you have some decisions to make. Your Go Tire tire professional can help you choose the right tire for the job, but here are some things you should know.

What is the tongue weight of the trailer?

Tongue weight refers to the downward force that the tongue of the­ trailer applies to the hitch of the tow vehicle. Tongue weight is determined by the weight of the trailer, the load (how the load is positioned on the trailer affects the result) and the Max Gross Tow Weight (the total load weight including the trailer). This will determine whether you need a heavier ply tire, such as an LT (light truck), and it will require more air pressure than the stock P-metric (passenger vehicle) tires. Heavier ply tires will add load capacity and reduce sway, but you may experience a harsher ride when unloaded.

What size tire do I need?

For the most part, the stock size to just one size larger will work best. If you choose a tire any larger than 3% taller than the stock size, your speedometer, odometer, and fuel economy will be affected. If you increase the size of your tires and or wheels, it is a good idea to recalibrate your speedometer and odometer to ensure correct gauge readings.

Here’s why:

A tire with a larger diameter travels a farther distance than a tire with a smaller diameter. For example: A tire with a 20 inch diameter will travel about 62.8 inches of ground in one full revolution; however, a tire with a diameter of 30 inches will cover about 94.2 inches in one full revolution. That’s an extra 31.4 inches or 0.0005 miles each time your tire completes a revolution.

Your speedometer will read a slower speed than you will actually be travelling. So, say you change your factory installed 20 inch diameter tires to 30 inch diameter tires. Assuming nothing but your tires have changed, your speedometer may read 60 MPH, but in reality you would be traveling at 90 MPH.

Actual Speed = New tire diameter x Indicated speed/Old tire diameter


What type of tread do I need?

The type of tread you will need to pull your trailer will vary based upon the job. This is where your Go Tire tire professional will be able to make suggestions based upon the information you provide and an examination of your tires.

  • If you are pulling a camper mainly on the highway, a high mileage highway tread tire will work best.
  • If you are pulling during the winter and need additional traction for rain and light snow, choose a trail tire with additional biting edges.
  • If you are pulling a boat and need additional grip on wet launches, you may prefer a trail or all-terrain tire depending on the length of the boat and how deep the tow vehicle will have to get into the water to launch the boat.
  • For construction work or landscaping, an all-terrain or mud terrain tire may be needed to prevent getting stuck in loose dirt or muddy areas. Tread wear and ride comfort will be diminished, but the risk of getting stuck will be greatly reduced.

Safety First

  • Remember when you’re towing a vehicle, you’ll need to plan lane changes and avoid rushing to make safe changes.
  • Not only is your vehicle longer, but it’s less maneuverable than your towing vehicle alone.
  • The tires on your trailer may not be suited for speeds above 65 mph or 104 kph.
  • Check all lights and connections on the trailer. If the trailer is below the field of vision for your fellow motorists, use a mesh flag to define the perimeter of your trailer and avoid an accident caused by someone misjudging where the back of your trailer is.
  • Towing doubles or triples the distance and time you’ll need to stop the vehicles. Be sure to slow down and allow extra time to get to where you need to be.