At one point or another, nearly all of us have cause to tow a trailer of some kind. Whether it’s a box trailer for a tip run, a caravan for a trip away or a car trailer for your mates banana’d Nissan
(sorry Nissan owners, we actually do love them but it’s a joke that keeps on giving.)
Since we’re all about tyres here, we thought it would be a great resource to go over tyres that you might want to fit to different trailers and what factors you might want to consider when choosing tyres to suit whatever towing scenario you find yourself in.
Every tyre you see will have some information written on the sidewall. In that is nearly every bit of the info you’ll need to decode what the tyre is and what it was designed for. It will also give you an idea of how it is going to perform.
Differences between tow vehicle tyres and trailer tyres
When choosing tyres for a trailer, there are different considerations that must be made to make the right choice. On a tow vehicle, tyres have a certain set of required functions; grip in acceleration, braking, and steering as well as being long lasting.
Trailer tyres tend to have a different role and as such, often look and perform very different to the tyres on the tow vehicle. For one, trailer tyres don’t have a driving force applied to them. So the tyre design should focus on preventing side-to-side swaying, braking performance as well as load carrying capabilities.
It always looks trick when you see a custom dual cab chassis with a custom tray loaded to the hilt with an off-road camper trailer with matching Mud Terrains all-round but ask yourself, is this the right tyre for the job?
That’s a loaded question because the answer is ‘it depends’. If you’re travelling somewhere remote there is merit in having two matching tyres on your trailer to swap out should the worst happen. Otherwise that extra weight, price and ‘driving grip’ that you want out of a MT are just going to waste on a trailer. You’re never going to air down your trailer tyres for more grip, not until battery assisted trailer axles
become more common anyway.
At most, if you’re towing a trailer off-road you’d be best looking into A/T tyres for their great compromises between weight, durability and puncture resistance.
For trailers destined to carry heavier weights while off-road, a lot of A/T and H/T tyres often have some in variations of P (passenger) and LT (light truck) constructions. LT tyres will have more stout load ratings and puncture resistance. But these still have downsides compared to dedicated to purpose engineered trailer tyres, which brings us to:
Special Trailer Tyres (ST) are not very common in Australia due to the nature of our roads and the prevalence of us taking our trailers off-road, at higher speeds over greater distances. If you can find a local stockist, you’ll have a tyre with a much stiffer shoulder designed to combat the side to side swaying that all trailers naturally try and develop while driving. ST tyres often have much higher load capacities than even LT tyres.
It’s important to note that a lot of ST tyres are only rated for fairly modest maximum speeds, which is likely the reason that they’re not as popular as LT tyres. Because of the thicker sidewall construction, these tyres are unable to shed excess heat which can lead to sidewall failures at high speeds. ST tyres often have much shallower tread patterns to account for the fewer kms they’re expected to travel over their serviceable lifespan.
Make sure you have trailer tyres that will keep up with the weigh and terrain you expect to cover
Tyre age notes and load rating notes
Because of the low kms most trailers cover in a year. You may find that the trailer tyres will need replacing due to age rather than having worn treads. Oxygen and Ozone in the atmosphere will deteriorate the rubber on a molecular level while UV from the sun will attack the outer layers of the tyre causing the tyre to harden. Extreme examples may even see the tyre cracking and developing permanent flat spots from being left sitting too long in one spot.
We hope this has helped clear up some confusion about what tyres will be ideal for refitting your box trailer, utility trailer or caravan.
So next time one of your mates need to borrow the trailer, you can be sure you’ll got it set up with the right rubber for the job. Nobody wants to miss out on that carton of promised beer because your trailer has left someone high and dry.