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RV Tire Safety: “I need bigger wheels for my trailer”

By Roger Marble
I have seen a few posts where someone says, “I need bigger tires for my trailer,” but I’m not sure if they are asking the right question.

First, I will assume they are really looking for tires with greater load capacity. They might also be looking for tire sizes where there are more choices in brand and load range. Too often the person posting the question/statement has not provided the important information on the current tires so anyone (including me) trying to help has to guess at some facts.

Let’s look at a likely situation. The older trailer came with 14″ wheels and possibly ST215/R7514 LR-C tires that provide 1,870# capacity @ 50 psi. These “14-inch” tires would be about 26.7″ OD and 8.5″ wide.

So what are the options? The easiest thing to do is to shop for Load Range D tires in the ST215/75R14 size. This would give a load capacity of 2,200# at 65 psi, but with similar dimensions as the OE tire.

When making any change, I would change to bolt-in metal valve stems so I can run TPMS and not have to worry about the low-cost “snap-in” rubber valve stems failing.

Now, if there is another reason to look for new wheels and you want to move to 15″ or larger because you want a different brand tire, you MUST confirm that the new tire size can provide AT LEAST 1,870# load capacity (preferably more), AND you need to confirm that there is sufficient clearance between the new tire size and the RV frame, springs and fender skirt. Also you need to confirm that there is sufficient clearance between the top of the tire and the wheel well directly above the tire. If you have tandem (two) axles, don’t forget the clearance between the two tires.

One option might be an LT205/70R15 LR-E, which gives 2,150# capacity at 80 psi, is 26.4 OD and 8.2″ wide. The 80 psi would give a harsher ride so may not be the best choice.

An LT 215/65R16 LR-D at 1,930# and 27.0 OD and 8.7″ wide might be an option.

So there are a number of options but you have to do some investigating to confirm both load capacity and physical dimensions. Some options may be better than others, and there will always be some trade-offs as not every size is made by every tire company. In other words, you may find a size but can’t find a dealer that sells that size in your area.

A side note: Whenever replacing tires, you should replace the rubber valve stems with new or bolt-in metal stems for improved reliability even if you don’t run TPMS. Once you make the switch to bolt-in metal valves, I doubt if you will need to change the stems for the life of the next two sets of tires.

 

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT981

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dkjen
8 months ago

the wheels need to be able to carry the new increased psi as well. last summer i put new GY endurance tires on my 1975 Avion. They max out at 80 psi and that is what discount tire put in them. The new GY tires have various ratings for different pressures. My wheels had max psi stamped on the back of them at 55.
It looks like GY just makes a lr E with the inflation table to check your load/psi.

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