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Your Corner Wrench: Why you should consider LT-rated winter tires for your pickup

Your Corner Wrench: Why you should consider LT-rated winter tires for your pickup
Autos
If you’ve owned a light-duty pickup truck in your life, you’ve given up trying to understand why automakers use tires rated for passenger vehicles on their half-ton trucks, rather than the beefier light-truck-rated rubbers. After checking the price differences between these two types of tires, you’ve learned by now these tires — with their LT designation on the sidewall — cost 10 to 30 per cent more on average.

So, you probably just figured carmakers are cheap — and you’re partially right. The other reason is that passenger-car-rated tires (those starting with a P rating at the beginning of their size specs) deliver a smoother and quieter ride than their LT counterparts. In the minds of automaker execs, this is what the majority of half-ton buyers are looking for — and they’re correct. But what if you actually work with your truck? What if you carry payloads and regularly tow more than just a small utility trailer? Buying the right tire, especially a winter tire, can save you considerable money by not having to replace it prematurely.

Motor Mouth: The truth about winter tires

When you consider that most factory installed all-season (read: summer) tires never seem to live up to customer expectations in terms of lifespan, what chance is there for softer rubber compound snows embossed with the letter P? And how low will those odds fall when you factor in cargo or trailer weight? LT tires have extra reinforcements built into the sidewalls and are rated by the number of plies, as in six, eight, or 10 ply. There is also a corresponding letter rating — C, D, and E, respectively. Moving up to an LT tire means more options in terms of aggressive treads, harder rubber compounds, and load capabilities.

As for price, a 10-ply LT-rated Goodyear AT Adventure, for instance, only runs about $50 more per tire in a common 17-inch size — and it’ll deliver considerably more distance before wearing out. Furthermore, many LT tires are rated for both all-season (again, summer) and winter use, meaning you can leave them on all year and save on seasonal tire swaps. But even then, there are still more things to keep in mind when moving up.

The uber-aggressive treads on LT tires can be noisy, and if previously equipped, drastically change your opinion of the quiet, isolated ride you’re used to from when your truck had highway-slick P-rated tires. Comparison labels are now starting to show up on certain tire brands, rating noise levels, lifespan, and fuel economy for specific models. Now, this won’t let you know how your choices might affect your ears and wallet, but they’ll at least give you a fair basis of comparison against other tires.

LT tires run at higher air pressures than P-rated tires. If your truck is equipped with a , you may run into problems — unless your particular truck can have its system reconfigured. If it can’t, you’ll simply have to live with the light on your dashboard and rely on monitoring tire pressure manually.
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