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Standard Load (SL) vs Extra Load (XL) Tires

When it comes to passenger tires, there are two types of load capacities to consider: Standard Load (SL) and Extra Load (XL). (Technically, there’s also Light Load but they’re highly uncommon and pretty specific, so we won’t get into it). 

This designation has nothing to do with their load index, which determines the maximum weight a tire can carry, but rather notes whether or not the tire is manufactured with a reinforced structure.

P-metric passenger vehicle tires

Standard Load (SL) Tires

A tire with the load capacity determined to be essential for its tire size (designated by the load index) is an SL or Standard Load tire. Standard load tires have a maximum load pressure of 35 psi. They can carry the weight and withstand the weight pressure the load index designates on their sidewalls and they have no reinforcement in their internal structure.

standard load on the sidewall

Standard load tires are manufactured mostly for regular passenger vehicles that are used for average, everyday driving and don’t need to carry or withstand heavy loads. Since they’re the most common passenger tires, they’ll either be marked with SL on the sidewall or nothing at all.

  • SL tires cannot withstand heavy loads
  • SL tires are meant for everyday driving

Check our current stock of Standard Load tires at Priority Tire.

Extra Load (XL) Tires

Extra load tires, on the other hand, are manufactured with a reinforced internal structure. Extra Load tires can be inflated to a maximum load pressure of 41 psi. The reinforced internal structure is the result of adding additional materials during the manufacturing process, usually to the tire’s shoulder, for extra strength. The reinforcements also minimize possible tire deflection and lowers the possibility of tire damage caused by road impact. XL tires are manufactured to withstand loads and weight pressures higher than that of Standard Load tires of the same size.

extra load on the sidewall

Hence the name “Extra Load.” Because of this, they tend to be used in situations that require a higher load capacity or better tire safety. If a tire is an XL model, it will be noted on the sidewall in one of these ways: Extra Load, XL or Reinforced.

  • XL tires have reinforced internal structures
  • XL tires have a higher load capacity
  • XL tires are meant to withstand heavy loads

Check our current stock of Extra Load tires at Priority Tire.

So What’s the Difference?

  • Difference in the air pressure capacity of the tires
  • XL tires last longer when used in the same manner as SL tires
  • XL tires have better damage resistance
  • SL tires are more fuel efficient

The primary difference between SL and XL tires of the same size is that a higher pressure can be used with an XL tire which, in turn, increases the tire’s load capacity. The higher load capacity is due to the tire’s special design as the tire is capable of withstanding a higher air pressure, which is directly related to its maximum load. While the XL tire can hold a higher air pressure, the same is not true of an SL tire. SL tires are unable to withstand such pressures and over inflating them can cause serious problems, including damage, accidents, and blow outs.

If XL tires are used in the same manner as SL tires, the XL tire is going to last longer, thanks to their reinforced structure. These tires can travel longer distances without any internal damage even under intense use, provided the correct psi is maintained. XL tires are also resistant to mechanical damages and are able to endure high speed driving pressure as well. Standard Load tire models do not have this enhanced resistance to damage, as they lack the extra reinforcements. However, as their overall weight is lower, they do provide better fuel consumption.

Which Should You Choose?

Whether a car needs XL tires is usually stated in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. If a driver wishes to exchange their SL tires to XL, they can, but they need to realize that the vehicle, the tire control and road feel may be different. While Standard Load tires can be replaced by XL models, the same cannot be said of the other way. 

If a vehicle’s manual states that it needs XL tires there is usually a good reason for it. Sometimes the tires are needed to withstand the higher loads the vehicle can carry, or just handle the weight of the vehicle itself. XL tires are also often manufactured for performance vehicles, as the special reinforced internal structure and tire compound offer greater traction and endurance for high speed driving. Standard load tires would not be able to endure the pressure and could potentially be dangerous in those situations.

So, if the vehicle needs Extra Load tires it is recommended to purchase them for it. If an XL tire is not necessary for the vehicle, then the owner can decide if they want to exchange the tires for XL models or not. If they carry larger loads with the vehicle or if the vehicle is capable of high speed performance, the XL tires might be preferred. However, Standard Load tires will also work just as well for such vehicles.

When Deciding, Just Keep These 3 Points in Mind:

  • SL tires can be replaced with XL
  • Vehicles needing XL tires MUST have XL tires
  • XL tires are also for high performance vehicles

standard load tires

Buy standard load tires at Priority Tire.

extra load tires

Buy extra load tires at Priority Tire.