There are plenty of attributes to be concerned with when purchasing your next set of tires, and tire load rating is one of the most important. Excessive loads can damage your tires, effectively shortening their lifespans. If you're wondering what a tire load rating is, you're probably not alone. Even the savviest shopper might not be fully aware of the importance of the car tire load rating. Understanding how to interpret this rating is important when shopping for new tires and for keeping yourself safe on the road.
What Is a Tire Load Rating?
Your car's tires serve a multitude of roles. Not only are they meant to provide superior traction in both dry and wet conditions, but they're also intended to shoulder the full weight of the vehicle. When you count the weight of the vehicle itself, the occupants inside, and the cargo loaded in the vehicle, it all begins to add up.
The tire load rating tells car owners the amount of weight each tire can safely carry when properly inflated. Because the weight of the vehicle is distributed among all four wheels, each tire has a significant amount of weight to support. Automotive and tire manufacturers take into consideration the overall weight of the vehicle when loaded with both passengers and cargo. With these factors in mind, the tire should ideally be able to support the vehicle's weight when fully loaded.
How Are Load Ratings Determined?
Tire manufacturers extensively test their tires to ensure they can meet or exceed their designated load capacity. After these tests are completed, the manufacturers assign a two or three-digit load index number to denote the maximum load rating. Maximum load ratings denoted in pounds or kilograms are also included on the sidewall of the tires. Current load indexes used for cars and light-duty trucks range from "70" to "110", or 761 to 2337 pounds respectively. The higher the load index number, the greater the tire's load-carrying capacity:
- "71" = 761 pounds or 345 kilograms
- "81" = 1019 pounds or 462 kilograms
- "91" = 1356 pounds or 615 kilograms
|Load Index||Max Weight (lbs)|
Do Car Tire Load Ratings Affect Performance?
Tire load ratings are important if you haul or tow lots of stuff. The added weight from a trailer and items loaded inside the cargo area or on the roof can quickly bring the tires to their maximum load limit, creating a dangerous situation where a blowout could occur. It's very important to check your tire's air pressure on a regular basis as the car tire load rating is only accurate when the tire is properly inflated.
Where Can I Find the Tire Load Rating?
In most cases, the load index number is included near the end of an alphanumeric format on the tire's sidewall. This format also contains the tire's width, sidewall height, size in diameter and maximum speed rating:
- 225/50SR16 89S
- 225/50R16 89S
The maximum load rating is located on the inner circumference of the sidewall. Both may be hard to find on some tires, so you may want to use a flashlight and a keen eye to find the index number.
Automotive manufacturers usually include the recommended tire size and load index rating on a metal placard on the driver's side door jamb, or on a sticker located on the rear left passenger side door jamb. Information is also included on the amount of weight distributed to each wheel, which is useful information for purchasing a tire with ample load capacity.
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