RV Tire Safety: Why are ST tires better than LT type?


with RV tire expert Roger Marble

I’m following some posts on an Airstream forum of tire inflation and type tires. Some are complaining about rivets “popping” when they increase tire pressure. There are many questions and some confusing replies. I thought some might find this information interesting.

Some general observations and comments:

On this RV forum, there are two tire engineers with significant forensic tire inspection knowledge. Our focus is on getting a better tire life and seeing fewer structural tire failures.

Out there, I would guess there is a pop rivet expert who would ask why the size, number or type of rivet being used is failing at a high rate. Airplanes are riveted together but I don’t hear about “popped” rivets in that application.

Very few RV owners know the actual load on their tires. Simply dividing the scale weight by two or 4 doesn’t provide the correct answer as it is easy to have one tire position to be hundreds of pounds heavier than another and they only respond to the actual load on that tire and not some mathematical average.

Also, I don’t know the loaded weight of each year/size/model TT so can’t provide an informed estimate on the inflation that TT should run.

I do know that having a MINIMUM of 10% Reserve Load (tire capacity minus actual load) is a new requirement (2017) from RVIA. DOT has no margin requirement (zero%). “Capri” and I are on record of suggesting at least 15% margin. The Interply Shear numbers would suggest that TT need to have a reserve closer to 25% if you want tire life more like a motorhome gets (5 – 7 years).

Since it is the air pressure that supports the load and not the tire, simply going up in Load Range but not changing the inflation will in all probability not gain you anything in actual load capacity.

The pressure on the tire sidewall isn’t really the “Maximum” you can safely use but is the MINIMUM inflation needed to support the MAXIMUM load that is marked on your tire sidewall. Personally, I do wish the wording on tires was more technically accurate but I can only guess that the lawyers and bureaucrats decided to use “max” in relation to the pressure for some reason.

Here is a question I wish someone could answer. Why are ST tires rated to support 10% to 20% more load than the same size LT tire? In the past, the reason was that ST tires were only rated to 65 mph to compensate for the increased load. Now ST and LT tires have almost the same speed rating but ST still carry the extra load capacity. If tire companies could all simply improve their ST tires almost overnight, why don’t they use the same “magic” tire construction to increase the load rating of their LT type tires?



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



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I know I’m not knowledgeable enough about tires, but after reading this article (and reading some of the paragraphs several times), all I can think is “Huh, what did it say”? Please, talk down to us like we are dummies.

Charles Hampton

Was the title of the article a rhetorical question or was it intended to be ironic? Please tell us if ST tires are better made than LT tires, or should we be buying LT tires for our travel trailers. Thanks.

Sybil Kenney

Could you explain the difference between LT and ST tires for those of us with no tire knowledge
Thank you