Posted by: Mark Polk | 8:32 am

RV 101 – I Need New Tow Vehicle Tires!

Question: We are shopping for new tires for our tow vehicle we pull our camper with.  We are not concerned about mileage ratings since we don’t put that many miles on our tow vehicle. I want to make sure we purchase the right tires though. Is there a particular brand of tire you would recommend? The  tire size is P265/70R16 and I definitely want to stick with the same tire size that came on the vehicle when it was new.


Tire brands are often based on what the buyer likes or has had success with in the past. I personally prefer Michelin tires, but like I said this is just my personal preference . What is important for you to understand is that when tires are manufactured they are built to perform a specific job on a specific type of vehicle.   There are passenger car tires and Light Truck (LT) tires. There are all-season tires, winter tires, mud & snow tires and performance tires. In addition to all this there are safety concerns like braking and handling characteristics and there are other issues like tread life and load ratings.

This is a lot of information to take in but let’s narrow the picture down to your specific needs.

You mentioned that mileage wasn’t a concern so we can take that off the list. For a tow vehicle it’s important that the tire is rated LT (Light Truck). This let’s you know the tires were designed specfifically for use on SUV’s and pick-up trucks.

When you are replacing the tires on a truck or SUV used for towing or hauling heavy loads another important consideration is the load range or rating of the tires.  When you take the tongue weight of the trailer into cosideration you are adding additional weight to the tires. For light truck tires the load range lets you know the strength of the tire and the tires ability to hold air pressure. When I was growing up tire manufacturers referred to how many plies the tire had (the number of layers built in a tire) to determine the load rating of the tire. The higher the ply rating the stronger the tire was and the more air pressure it could hold to support a heavier load. Nowadays they use an alphabetical rating to specify the load range of a light truck tire. The tire load ranges today don’t actually count the number of plies or layers in the tire, but the strength of the tire is comparable to the older ply ratings used years ago.

An easy way to compare today’s tire load ranges to the old ply rating system is to take the alphabetical load range designation of the tire and determine what number it is in the alphabet. For example if it is a D- load range tire D is the fourth letter in the alphabet. Now multiply that by 2, so a D- load range tire is equivalent in strength to an 8-ply tire. I use E- load range tires equivalent to a 10-ply tire, on my truck. The other important consideration is that the tires are inflated properly for the load they are carrying. It’s best to check the tire manufacturer load and inflation tables for the correct inflation pressure for the load. Always keep in mind you can’t exceed the tires weight rating or any of the tow vehicle weight ratings.

I agree with sticking to the tire size that came on the vehicle when it was new. As for the tread design I think a good all-season highway tread is best. There is no need for towing with tires designed for driving in snow unless that is the conditions you plan to do most of your towing in.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk


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