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The ST vs LT Tires Debate (Don't Make This Common Mistake)

Trailer tires mounted on a trailer

Driving safety is crucial! That is also true when shopping for ST tires for trailers. Do not underestimate the durability of a good ST tire set and do not put yourself at risk by foregoing their purchase.

P, ST, and LT tires are not equal. There are clear distinctions between these tire categories. Starting from the weakest of the bunch (passenger tires), all the way to the strongest (ST tires), which tire you use will make an enormous difference.

Or rather, each tire category has its specific applications that are not interchangeable. ST tires provide the strength your trailer needs.

But, what is an ST tire? Let's take a look!

What Does ST Mean on Tires?

ST trailer tires are manufactured for trailer use only. Unlike passenger tires, these models do not need to offer driving comfort during their performance. Instead, their construction allows for better stability and load durability.

What Are ST Tires?

ST stands for "special trailer". Travel trailers and other special trailer models need specific tires to perform as it is intended. They do not have drive axles that provide traction and performance, nor do passengers who require comfort. For this reason, manufacturers focus on providing the necessary load capacity and towing stability.

Trailer being towed

Such tires feature heavier constructions, wider and stronger belt structures, and more durable compound blends to achieve this. Their combination makes sure the ST tire does not deform under load pressure, increasing its load durability.

Additionally, the optimal tire shape, the firmer sidewalls, and their consistent surface contact allow the tow vehicle to have constant control over the entire trailer. This upgrades its handling and minimizes the possibility of the trailer swaying during its performance.

To put it bluntly, the ST tire meaning is crucial to understand for trailer owners.

ST Tires Speed Rating

When it comes to ST tire speed rating options, we are a bit restricted. ST tires for trailers do not offer as wide of availability when it comes to speed rating as tires for passenger cars and light trucks do.

Again, there is a reason for this. Trailer tire structures and compound blends are built to withstand high load pressure. Yet, this combination does not offer good heat resistance. Heat or pressure accumulation can quickly happen when towing speeds are exceeded, which leads to tire fatigue and failure.

Most travel trailers should not be towed faster than 65 mph, due to the limitation of ST tires. If you wish to increase the speed limit of said tires, the inflation pressure should be increased by 10 psi over the recommended pressure levels. Still, trailer owners should not exceed the maximum inflation pressure of the wheel as it will cause unwanted problems.

But, thanks to modern manufacturing technologies, tire brands are working on manufacturing sturdier ST tires. These are sold with higher speed ratings, which go up to 75 mph.

Check out tire trailer tire speed rating chart to see what is available:

Common ST tire speed ratings

Should You Use LT Tires on Your Trailer?

Mounting light truck tires on trailer applications is not a good idea. The debate of trailer tires vs truck tires divides trailer owners all over the world. But, when you ask professionals, their answers are clear - LT tires on trailers should not be used.

ST tire rating exists for a reason. They sport stiffer sidewalls compared to LT-rated tires. This, along with other structural and compound components, allows an ST.tire to handle larger loads with ease.

While a light truck tire set will prevent heat build-up more effectively, its structure is not as durable as a trailer tire structure. Under excess load pressure, LT tires will deform and won't be able to perform at their necessary capacity.

Therefore, for free-rolling axles, make sure to use trailer tires to ensure the safety of the tow vehicle and the (travel) trailers.

What Does LT Mean on a Tire?

Passenger tires are not suitable for all vehicles. When carrying larger loads, their structures bend, creating more heat accumulation. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to tire blowouts. To combat such problems, LT tires were introduced to the market.

But, what does LT stand for on tires?

In the simplest terms, LT means light truck. Light truck tire sets are designed to withstand heavier loads without suffering from pressure build-up. Models with an LT tire rating offer better durability compared to passenger tires, without sacrificing too much comfort.

They maintain their optimal shape under the load pressure affecting them. Yet, they still provide the flexing necessary to minimize the road disturbances felt by the vehicle's passengers as much as possible. In a way, on a comfort and durability scale, they are situated between passenger tires and trailer tires.

Side photo of a light truck with light truck tires clearly shown.

The Main Differences Between LT vs ST Tires

The main distinction between ST tires vs LT tires usually sparks a heated debate on forums. Most owners do not trust travel trailer tire ratings and swear by light truck tire sets. Still, professionals are of a different opinion, which is that ST tires were created for a reason.

ST and LT tires are not interchangeable. The stiffer sidewalls of tires for trailer use only are designed for larger loads, and there is a large possibility that light truck tires will fail under the same pressure.

Additionally, trailer owners will have to face size/load range differences as well. The same trailer tire vs truck tire models will not offer the same load range. When switching between tire sets, make sure the new tires will be able to handle the load capacity of the trailer. Keep in mind the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) when shopping.

These Are Some of the Most Important Differences Between Trailer Tires vs Truck Tires:

  • The load rating for trailer tires tends to be higher compared to truck tires
  • Structural durability is significantly increased with trailer tires
  • ST tires come with firmer sidewalls as opposed to LT tires
  • Truck tires offer better traction as trailer tires do not focus on that
  • An LT tire set provides high driving comfort levels, while an ST one offers none

Can You Put Car Tires on a Trailer? (Trailer Tires vs Car Tires)

ST sizing is most similar to P-metric tire sizes. However, that does not mean that they are identical. The difference between trailer tires and car tires is in their structure, performance, and compound blends.

Passenger tires are designed to offer comfort, controllability, fuel efficiency, etc., but they are not able to handle large loads. On the other hand, trailer tires are strictly designed to handle loads.

So, can you use car tires on a trailer? The short answer is no. Trailer tires vs passenger tires are not interchangeable and using car tires on trailer is not safe. In fact, they are on two sides of the tire scale (if the scale contains passenger, LT, and ST tires).

Whether you need a P or LT tire is also important. While they are similar the difference between LT and P tires will determine which tire sets you can mount on your specific tow vehicle. LT tires come with a specific load range that determines their load durability, while P-metric tires only feature a load index.

This means that LT tires are stronger, but they also come in larger sizes.

The Difference Between Car Tires and Trailer Tires

Trailer tire vs car tire - which is better? Well, when you are shopping for tires for your trailer, stick with ST tires.

While some trailer owners will stick to LT tires, that is still a better option than passenger tires. P-metric tire models are simply not capable of withstanding the pressure of loads. Making them handle extra cargo will easily lead to a blowout.

For more information about car tires vs. trailer tires, don't forget to check out this detailed comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Truck Tires on a Trailer?

It is not recommended to use LT tires on trailer applications. There is a good reason why LT tires vs ST tires are different. ST-rated tires are specifically made for free-rolling axles, which allows them to optimize trailer operations.

What Does LT Mean on a Car?

LT can mean different things on various cars. For Chevrolet owners, it will stand for "luxury touring", indicating that the model is an upgrade from the car manufacturer's base-level configurations. However, LT on a truck stands for "light truck metric" showing that the vehicle needs LT or truck tires.

What Does ST Stand for on Tires?

When it comes to ST tires meaning, it is actually pretty simple. ST stands for "special trailer" indicating the tire's trailer only use. These trailer tires are manufactured for various special trailer applications, optimizing their durability, controllability, and performance.

Can I Use Car Tires on a Trailer?

While some trailer owners swear that in the trailer tires vs passenger tires debate the latter are better, we advise you to not use car tires on trailers. The internal structure and compound blend on regular car tires will not be able to handle driving and load stress in trailer applications.