Trailer Tires and Wheels

Trailer Tires and Wheels

I'm a expert on trailer tires. Really. That's because I've changed over a dozen trailer tires alongside the road. Our race team had a whole system worked out. While two people were busy changing the blown out trailer tire the 3rd person would be on their iPhone locating the nearest Wal Mart.

Once we put the new cheap Wal Mart tire on the trailer we would just go buy another low quality tire. In a matter of months we had 4 really bad tires on our trailer. Then every four hundred miles or so we would buy another one. It never occurred to us that it might be smart to stop shopping at Wal Mart.

No one really wants to think about trailer tires. Obviously we  didn't. Then I had to write a book called Wheel and Tire Performance Handbook for Motorbooks International. One whole chapter was on trailer tires and wheels.

They must have liked the chapter on trailer tires because I ended up writing a whole book about trailers called The Complete Trailer Handbook.

The rules are really simple. The tires and wheels should match the load capacity of your trailer. In other words you can't use cheap little tires on a really big trailer. Got it? Now believe it.

Before we get to the tires though we need to think about the load capacity of the trailer. How much weight is your trailer designed to carry. Most of you can simply look at the metal placard on the side of the trailer for this information.

If you're like me that placard is usually long gone. I normally end up buying someone's left over trailer that has seen a very difficult life. I usually have to buy some new tires and some paint. Sometimes I even have to buy new fenders but that's no big deal. The main structure of a trailer seldom wears out.

One good rule of thumb for determining the load capacity of an old trailer is to count the lug nuts. The number of lug nuts on your wheels will give you a rough idea about the strength of your trailer. Lightweight trailers have only four lugs nuts. That means the axle can only hold about 2,000 pounds.

Axles that have 5 or 6 lug nuts for each wheel can generally handle up to a 3,500 pound load. Trailers that have 6 or 8 lug nut wheels can generally handle over 6,000 pounds. This is just a rough idea but it's better than nothing.

Now look on the side of the tire and look for the load capacity on the tire's sidewall. Multiply that number by 2, or 4, and you have the total load capacity of your tires. 

This lug nut trick is pretty handy if you own the type of trailers I own. I'm talking about old trailers that have no markings about where they were built.