Passenger vs. Light Truck Tires
If you drive an SUV or a pickup truck, it’s important to know that you have options when selecting replacement tires.
Understanding the differences between Passenger and Light Truck tires will be critical if you are considering a switch from the original tire type for your vehicle. It’s not necessarily a simple matter of choosing between good and bad. How you use your vehicle will help determine the best choice for you, because each type is constructed for different driving needs.
If you are interested in replacing your Passenger with Light Truck tires or vice versa, read on to get a better idea of the benefits and potential trade-offs for each type.
We’ve also included a tire diameter chart to reference for size comparison and matching between Passenger and Light Truck tires.
Passenger vs. Light Truck tires: What’s the difference?
Passenger tire sizes were originally designed for cars and station wagons, but as the automobile market has grown to include more passenger carrying — instead of cargo carrying — vans, pickup trucks and SUVs, Passenger tires have become more commonplace. Most light trucks being produced today are equipped with Passenger tires because they rarely go off road, carry heavy loads or tow a trailer. Passenger tires are lighter weight, with lower rolling resistance and a less aggressive tread design. Those features add up to improved ride comfort, less road noise and better fuel economy than a typical Light Truck tire — although they shouldn’t be considered adequate for off-road driving. Additionally, Passenger tires typically have better traction on wet and dry pavement.
Light Truck tires are built specifically for light trucks and can handle heavier loads under more adverse conditions. They usually have a deeper tread and thicker rubber in the sidewall and under the tread, offering more protection than their Passenger counterparts. Plus, they are constructed with heavier plies and often have an extra steel belt. Along with heavy load uses, some Light Truck tires are built for off-roading to handle gravel, dirt or other debris that can more easily damage Passenger tires.
Generally, if your truck or SUV’s original tires were Light Truck tires, you should replace them with Light Truck tires following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re going to drive only on paved roads and not haul any heavy loads, you might be able to opt for a Passenger tire instead but should make sure to get a Passenger tire that has a 10% increase in load-carrying capacity in order to provide an acceptable margin of safety. You must also adjust your air pressure accordingly.
For example, if your truck or SUV weighs 4,500 pounds, each tire should be capable of carrying a minimum of 1,125 pounds. If a Passenger size is chosen to replace a Light Truck tire, the tires should be able to carry at least 1,238 pounds.
If your SUV, van or truck came with Passenger tires but you frequently haul heavy loads or pull heavy trailers, you should consider replacing your Passenger tires with Light Truck tires. The trade-off is that Light Truck tires offer a rough ride; their thicker, stiffer sidewalls aren’t very flexible and create a bumpier, noisier, less comfortable drive than Passenger tires. This stiffer tire, however, results in less sway and more predictable handling, which provides more confidence in how the vehicle drives when hauling or carrying heavy loads.
Ultimately, your tire’s construction must be able to handle the vehicle’s weight and intended use. It can create a dangerous situation if the tire you choose isn’t designed to handle the dynamics of your vehicle.
So, whether you’re taxiing your family around town or hauling heavy cargo, it’s important to equip your vehicle with the appropriate set of tires. It is always best to stay with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended load range, even if you don’t plan to carry a lot of weight.
Should I use P-metric or LT-metric tires?
Many lightweight pickups, vans, and SUVs come from the factory with P-metric tires, which means they are designed for paved roadways and standard load sizes. These tires won’t do much if you plan on doing heavy-duty work with your light-duty truck. But before you switch your P-metric tires to LT-metric tires instead, check out how they stack up.
While LT-metric tires do well off-road, they aren’t suited for standard driving conditions. Their rolling resistance and heavy-duty construction can significantly increase fuel costs. And if you do a lot of highway driving, the resulting tread wear on your heavy-duty tires could cost you heavy-duty money. Plus, you could notice that your ride becomes noisier or rougher after replacing your P-metric tires with light truck tires.
On the other hand, if you haul heavy loads or drive on a lot of off-road terrains, putting P-metric tires on your light truck can be downright dangerous! Since these tires aren’t equipped to handle rough off-road conditions, you could damage the tire and dramatically shorten its lifespan. Additionally, the lack of support you get from the tire could allow those rough conditions to wreak havoc on your suspension!
Your average passenger car (P) or light truck (LT) tire is a radial design. These tires are designed for different purposes than trailer tires. Depending on the classification that could be for load bearing capacity, long distance driving, or a combination of both.
There are three major factors in mind during their construction:
- Acceleration: When speeding up, a car tire must both deliver traction and endure the stresses caused by the acceleration.
- Braking: When braking, the car tire must endure the stresses incurred and stop the vehicle.
- Turning: When a vehicle tire makes a turn, the tread and overall construction of the tire deforms to provide better grip.
These three factors are of the utmost importance when designing a car tire. The materials and construction respond to the vehicle’s needs. They’re even designed to respond to weather conditions based on these needs.
These tires can have tread life capacities upwards of 80,000 miles with proper maintenance. It can be tempting to toss them on a trailer.
How to Remove a Truck Suspension Lift Kit
Removing a suspension lift kit will require the truck to be realigned after the removal of the lift. The wheels and tires–or just the tires, if the lift was not over 2 inches–must be replaced. This must be considered first, because when lifting a truck the normal tires and wheels can be used to go to a shop for an upgrade in size. When lowering the truck, the tires and wheels will not fit under the truck. The truck may have to sit on the jack stands until the tire situation is corrected.
Raise the truck on all four corners, and support it on jack stands. Support the rear axle on either side, then jack up the axle sufficiently to relieve weight on the spring. Using the 1/2-inch air gun and socket, remove the nuts from the U bolts holding the axle to the spring.
Remove the bottom plate and the lifting block between the spring and axle. Lower the axle onto the spring and replace the U bolts with new, shorter bolts. Install the lower axle support plate with the U bolts inserted through the holes in the plate, and install the nuts and tighten. Do the other side the same way.
Remove both front wheels. Remove the front caliper and hang it up out of the way with a coat hanger so that it does not hang by its hose. Disconnect the ABS wire connector if so equipped. Place the floor jack under the lower control arm and lift it so it barely touches the control arm. Remove the sway bar link.
Using the wire cutter, remove the cotter pin from the bottom ball joint. Loosen the ball joint nut but leave it on with five threads. Use the ball joint separator and separate the ball joint. Remove the nut on the top of the shock and remove the shock extender.
Lift the lower control arm with the floor jack just enough to take the tension off the ball joint nut. Remove the nut. Slowly lower the control arm and remove the coil spring. Install the new coil spring by inserting it up into its frame housing and grab the bottom of the spring and force it into the receiver in the lower control arm, as far as possible. Raise the control arm slightly and force the spring in further until it is all the way in the receiver, or use the pry bar to help it into the pocket. Once in, raise the lower control arm slowly and insert the ball joint into the bottom receiver of the spindle. Install the nut on the ball joint and tighten the nut.
Install the cotter pin in the ball joint above the nut. Install the shock to its original bracket. Install the sway bar link and tighten the nut. Install the caliper and attach the ABS connector. Do the opposite side in the same manner. Lower the floor jack. Put the new tires and wheels on. If you do not need to buy new tires and wheels, put the old ones back on.
Can i use my trailer tires on my car?
If you didn’t get a spare with your car when you bought it, you may be tempted to get a rim and toss a trailer tire on it. If you’re not on it long, what’s the worst that could happen?
Well, a car accident that totals your car is bad.
Using a trailer tire on a vehicle focuses stress on areas where trailer tires are weakest. Vehicle tires keep traction and grip in mind during their construction, while trailer tires do not. This increases the risk significantly, especially at highway speeds or in poor weather.
We don’t recommend using a trailer tire on your vehicle.