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Understanding Trailer Tire Sizes
written by Clint Craft

A useful guide to gauging trailer tires sizes.
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The easiest way to ensure you're purchasing the right set of replacement tires for your trailer is to simply write down your current size designation -- located on the sidewall of your tire -- and bring this information to your local tire distributor. If you're the do-it-your-self type, the shopkeeper will grab exactly what you need, and you can be on your way to replace those old worn-out tires. If you bring your trailer in to the shop, the dealer will probably even install them for you.


But for those elite few who wish to glean a bit of knowledge from these cryptic markings read on. Those numeric and alphabetic combinations may look as mysterious as hieroglyphs on an ancient Egyptian urn, but with a little effort, you'll soon understand their significance, an understanding that you can then use to your advantage during future tire purchases.

Understanding Tire Size Conventions

Trailer tires use one of three yes three different marking conventions to indicate tire size: numeric, alpha numeric and metric. All three conventions are used on the Bass Pro Shops website.


Numeric identification is probably the most commonly used convention for indicating the size of small trailer tires. Most numeric identification systems indicate tire Section Width in inches, Rim Diameter in inches and Load Range. Load range is the weight carrying capacity of an individual tire represented by an alphabetic symbol.


4.80 x 8B

Section Width Rim Diameter Load Range
4.80" 8" B






Some larger trailer tires utilize a numeric size designation that also includes the tires Overall Diameter. This number is placed at the beginning of the tire's size description, which also includes Section Width, Rim Diameter and Load Range.


20.5 x 8.0 x 10C

Overall Diameter Section Width Rim Diameter Load Range
20.5" 8.0" 10" C

Alpha Numeric

More descriptive than the Numeric system, Alpha Numeric tire size designations indicate Air Chamber Size, Aspect Ratio, Rim Diameter and Load Range. Aspect Ratio is the ratio between tire height and width expressed as a percentage. Aspect Ratio is determined by dividing the tire's section height by its section width, and then multiplying the result by 100 (section height/section width x 100 = aspect ratio). Just remember that the higher the percentage, the taller the section height of the tire; the lower the percentage, the shorter the tire's section height.


B78 x 13C

Air Chamber Size Aspect Ratio Rim Diameter Load Range


78% 13" C


Of the three, metric designations cram the most information into the tire size description. This includes the addition of alphabetical codes that indicate tire application/type, section width in millimeters, aspect ratio, tire construction, rim diameter (inches) and load range.



Application/Type Section Width Aspect Ratio Construction Rim Diameter Load Range
ST = Special Trailer 175mm 80% R = Radial 13" C


A word of warning: Light Truck (LT) and Passenger (P) designated tires should never be used as trailer tires. Special Trailer (ST) tires are built tougher than P and LT tires to withstand the abuse that causes tire bruising and blowouts. The ST tire's stronger side wall also helps alleviate trailer sway problems.


This tire size primer should help you make an informed decision next time you're in need of a new set of trailer tires. Should some sly tire shop owner try and stick you with a set of LT tires instead of the appropriate ST type, you'll know the difference. Heck, you might even take you're new-found knowledge to the web and save a few bucks.


Shop all tires at BassPro.com

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