CAN A TRAILER BE LABELED "HEAVY DUTY" WITH 16" TIRES?
Marketing teams at trailer manufacturers are creative people. They’re always coming up with some great names for their trailers. Personally, I like a lot of them. Max Duty, Super Duty, Xtra Load, Extra HD. All these descriptions are meant to imply the toughness of the trailer and it’s ability to handle heavy loads, easily. These marketing personnel truly do a good job, not doubt about it.
When you really break it down though, are these names a fitting description of the trailers true potential? How would you answer that question?
One analogy that holds true is, “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link”.
These “heavy duty” trailers are commonly built with improved axles, framing, finishes, and hardware. Any yet, do you know what is almost always left under addressed? You guessed it, the tires and wheels.
Why would that be the case when this is arguably the most vital component to the trailer? It’s the only component that is in direct contact with the road and all the hazards that come with this. It’s the main component carrying all the weight of the trailer and cargo. It is expected to take all the abuse of deteriorating road conditions, travel at highway speeds, often while being loaded to the max (or overloaded at times), in hot or cold temperatures, and still perform 110% of the time.
Too often, 16” tires are not up this task. Spend 10 minutes doing a Google search on ‘trailer tire failures’ and you’ll see just how common the problem is. So many people are looking for a solution to their trailer tire problems it’s amazing it hasn’t been addressed appropriately until now.
Why are trailer manufacturers still using them on 95% of the larger light and medium duty trailers if these tires are still so failure prone? In a word, price. It really is that simple. These tires are the lowest cost option available, period.
Many manufacturers install a ST235/80R16 10-ply tire and wheel for well under $100. These tires have the minimum stamped sidewall rating to just meet the NHTSA requirements for these trailers. Two tires marked at 3,520/lbs. each covers the weight for that 7,000/lbs. rated axle in most manufacturer’s minds.
This doesn’t take into account the tire’s flimsy high profile design and the excessive torque stress put on the tire while turning and maneuvering a trailer, especially under load. It doesn’t take into account that 99% of trailer owners never take their trailer over a scale and don’t know exactly how much weight they are actually carrying. Often if it fits, it goes.
Due to this minimum allowable rating standard, there is no margin for error. There is no safety factor built in to their equations. Seriously!
By going to a 225/70R19.5 wheel and tire you provide yourself with a 3,970/lbs. load capacity tire that is rated for 75 up to 87 mph depending on the brand tire you choose. That’s a 13% safety margin when loading your trailer.
Should you ever overload your trailer and are we encouraging this? No. Will you? Probably, especially if you don’t take the trailer over a scale to see how much the loads weigh. You need a safety margin.
You’re also getting a low profile commercial truck tire (think fuel savings & minimal sidewall flex stress), a longer tire life (2x-10x the tire life), and replacement tires that cost an average of $200 or less for 14PR tires!
What is the cost of this upgrade? A steel wheel and 14PR 19.5” tire that directly replaces your current 16” assembly starts at $369, an aluminum wheel and tire starts at $489. That’s tire and wheel, mounted and delivered!
As with all quality construction, it starts from the ground up. Your wheels and tires are the foundation your trailer relies on.
Can a trailer truly be called heavy duty and have 16” tires as the foundation? Look at their failure rate record and we believe the answer is obvious.