Many truck owners do not know the difference between p-metric tires and LT tires, and which one is better for their vehicle. If you drive a pick-up truck, large SUV or a panel van, you should know the difference between these size designations. A replacement of the exact tire that came on the vehicle originally, may not always be the right choice for the replacement tire. Tire sizes that have a “p” in front of the numbers in the size description, or no letter at all, are p-metric. If there is an LT in front of the size, then it is an LT tire. Which tire type is right for you depends on how you use your vehicle.
P-metric Tires for More Mileage and a Smoother Ride
Occasionally tires have a “p” listed in front of the tire size. The “P” in “p-metric” stands for passenger vehicle. Passenger vehicles are cars (for example sedans or coupes), minivans, or CUVs, but can also be trucks that do not carry extra heavy loads or run on gravel roads. If there is no letter in front of the size, like the example used in this finding your tire size video, then the tire is equivalent to p-metric. These tires have an internal construction and use materials designed to give a smooth ride, good handling on the highway, and to last a long time.
There are some pick-up truck owners that rarely go off paved roads, carry heavy loads, or tow a trailer. Many half ton trucks come equipped from the factory with p-metric tires for this very reason. If you own a half ton pick-up truck or full-size SUV and rarely if ever carry a load or go off pavement, then a p-metric tire will be a better choice for your replacement tire. They will ride smoother, last longer, and be more fuel efficient than a LT rated tire in the same size. A few tires with a wide range of p-metric sizes that offers good all round performance and excellent value for your money are the Toyo Open Country H/T tire and the Mastercraft Courser HSX Tour tire The p-metric sizes in both these tire styles come with a 60,000 mile tread-wear warranty for long mileage.
If your truck, van or full size SUV comes from the factory rated for LT tires, it is best to replace the tires with LT tires. P-metric to LT is acceptable, but never replace original equipment LT tires with P-metric tires due to them having lower load capacity ratings at maximum air pressure.
LT Tires for Heavy Loads, Towing and Off-Road Durability
LT tires are going to be more expensive than p-metric tires. This is because LT tires have extra material in the sidewall and under the tread that protects the tire from damage. The cords in a LT tire are a larger gauge than P-metric tires so the tire can carry heavier loads. Very often LT tires will have an extra steel belt, a deeper tread and thicker rubber in the sidewall for more protection vs a p-metric tire. LT tires are usually 8-ply (Load Range D) or 10-ply (Load Range E). Passenger Tires usually have a 4-ply or 6-ply equivalent sidewall. The performance trade-off of this added weight is a harsher ride, less fuel efficiency, and less responsive handling.
Tread-wear or tire mileage is typically about the same for LT and P-metric tires, except if used often on gravel roads. If used on gravel roads, you should consider an LT tire instead of p-metric because the tread rubber in LT tires is usually especially formulated to resist chipping from stones. On paved highways, p-metric tires typically have better wet and dry traction on pavement.
If you drive your truck heavily loaded or pull heavy trailer loads frequently, you should consider replacing your p-metric tire with an LT tire. Tradespeople that have their truck or van loaded with tools, supplies and equipment often find that the stiffer LT tires provides less sway, and therefore more confidence inspiring handling as well. Others may find that the ride is slightly harsher and not as comfortable. This is one of the trade-offs you can expect when you replace a p-metric tire with a LT tire. A tough durable LT tire for hardworking trucks and commercial vans is the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro Tire.
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