Let’s talk about trailer tires! Without tires, your cargo or utility trailer isn’t going anywhere. They’re the foundation of your journey down the road, and choosing the right tires for your needs is key to happy hauling.
ALCOM’s aluminum trailers are built with tires that match their size, capacity and style. Many trailer models also have optional tire and wheel upgrades available; learn more when you visit our brand websites or talk with your local dealer.
Before getting started, let’s look at some of the basic things to consider when choosing tires for your aluminum trailer. Don’t forget about your tow vehicle - having the right tires for that is important, too, and the principles we’ll review can be applied to both sets of tires.
Radial vs Bias-Ply Construction - What’s the Difference?
Tires are constructed using a series of layers and components, including body plies and belts, which provide structure for the tire. The style of these plies generally falls into one of two categories - bias or radial ply.
Bias ply tires, sometimes called cross ply tires, use diagonal body ply cords that are arranged at an angle, in alternating sections, creating a criss-cross appearance. With stiffer sidewalls than radial tires, bias ply tires may perform well in harsh environments. They have, historically, also been a little less expensive than radial tires, although they may not last as long.
Radial tires, on the other hand, have body ply cords which run at a 90 degree angle to the travel direction, across the tire body. This design tends to offer better traction, stability, and overall tread wear, especially under heavy loads. Although radial tires may cost more up front than bias ply tires, they also have an edge on longevity due to their design. Due to improvements in the design of radial tires in recent years, they have emerged as the new industry standard for trailers.
Tire Ratings - Load, Speed, Weight Range, PSI
How much can your tires safely haul and how fast can you get it there? Tire rating can be difficult to interpret if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Let’s review some key points.
Load rating refers to the amount of weight a tire can support when it is properly inflated. It’s important that your trailer is equipped with the right tires to make sure you can safely and reliably haul your cargo. The tire’s weight rating represents its share of the total load: that is, the combined weight of the trailer and cargo, divided by the number of tires on the trailer.
While it’s unlikely you’ll try to break any speed records - or speed limits! - while hauling your ALCOM trailer, it is important to understand the speed rating of your trailer tires. Make sure you are familiar with the speed rating so you can always keep it under control.
Another number you need to know: the max PSI rating indicated on your tire’s sidewall. PSI refers to pounds per square inch, or the unit used to measure the air pressure inside a tire. Keep your trailer tires inflated to the max PSI. When a tire is under-inflated, it sustains unnecessary wear and tear, can cause tire damage, and will not adequately support its maximum load rating. Check tire pressure on a monthly basis, and do it when the tire is cool to the touch for the most accurate reading. Add air as needed to keep your trailer tires ready to roll!
What Do They Cost? Tire Price Range
Tires are an investment - you can expect to spend about $100 per tire on the lower end of the price range, or up to $250 each for heavier-duty or more expensive options. The larger and heavier your trailer and your expected cargo, the tougher - and likely more expensive - its tires will be.
When planning your budget, remember that while you want a good deal, tires aren’t an area to sacrifice quality and performance in exchange for savings. If you do opt for budget tires, be sure that you keep a close eye on them for signs of premature wear or damage.
Talk with your ALCOM dealer about available tire upgrades when ordering your trailer and we’ll help you make sure you start out with the right tires for the right trailer - at the right price!
Making Tires Last - Wear and Tear
Once you’ve chosen the best tires for your aluminum trailer, you want to make sure they last as long as possible. How can you maximize tire longevity?
Start by always keeping tires inflated per the tire specifications. Check your tire pressure regularly, especially when the temperature outside fluctuates. Tires with low pressure can cause extra wear and tear on the sidewalls, which can, in turn, lead to premature deterioration - or worse, a blowout.
Rotate your tires - both on your trailer and your tow vehicle - every few thousand miles helps to evenly distribute wear and tear among the tires. One way to remember to rotate your tires is to combine it with an oil change! While you’re at it, ask your mechanic to balance the trailer tires as well.
Finally, if possible, avoid storing your cargo or utility trailer in the elements. Baking sun and brittle cold are no friends to tires, and can reduce their longevity if the trailer is consistently stored outside.
Moving On - When to Replace Tires
Even the most well-maintained tires will eventually need to be replaced. Legally, if your tires have 2/32” tread depth or less, it’s time to replace them for safety’s sake. Tires are designed with wear bars to help you know when they’re getting worn down; you can also use a penny to check in a pinch! With Lincoln’s head facing down, insert the penny into the tread groove of the tire. If the groove still covers part of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is adequate.
But you don’t want to wait until the last minute to replace your tires. Check them regularly for signs of wear, especially if you travel on rough terrain or at jobsites. Debris like nails, screws, rocks, and more can really take a toll on tires.
After five or six years, even seldom-used tires will be showing signs of age that could impact their safety. Factors like heat, moisture, and cold take their toll on tires even if they’re sitting still. It’s a good general rule to replace tires every five years - unless you need to do so sooner!
Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about trailer tires, you’re one step closer to being ready to invest in your next aluminum trailer. ALCOM is here to help.
ALCOM operates six manufacturing plants across the USA, and we have a huge network of dealers across the United States and Canada. That means no matter where you are, there’s an ALCOM dealer near you, ready to help you choose the right trailer. Tires included!
Motor Trend - Bias Versus Radial Trailer Tires
Blue Ridge Trailers - What is the Correct Trailer Tire Pressure in Summer?
Endurance Warranty - What Does the PSI on Tires Mean?
US Tire Manufacturers Association - How a Tire is Made
1A Auto - How to Check Tire Tread for Wear