View Full Version : Trailer tire selection time

Last Tango
07-16-2013, 09:01 PM
So it is time for me to replace the tires on my trailer for my 22ZX.

The trailer is a Loadmaster, all aluminum, dual axle, all four wheel disc brakes, with hydraulic surge brakes and electrical cut-out for reverse. It is the trailer supplied by Donzi when I bought my boat new in 2006. Even stamped into the frame to say so.

Anyway, it has the original Goodyear Marathon Radial ST205/75 R 14 tires on it. Those are being replaced. Tire Rack has them, and so do a couple others, but I was looking to shop around a little.
Walmart has that size trailer-specific tire already mounted on a shiny new galvanized steel wheel, but they are a brand I have never heard of, and they are NOT radials - they are bias ply. Yes, West Marine has tires and wheels, too. And I am certain my local favorite tire store will be happy to order something for me and mount and balance them.

So my discussion questions are:

Is it OK to change out the four old original radials for the off-the-shelf Walmart "specials" that are Bias Ply or should I stick to just replacing the existing Goodyears specifically with new radials? I actually prefer the radials (in my head), because that is what the factory chose to spec. But I am open to your rebuttals for the cheaper priced bias ply. The radials have really stood up well considering all the miles on them verses the bias ply tires on my 2001 Classic 18 trailer tires which wore out pretty quickly (single axle trailer, no brakes).

Walmart also offers a trailer-specific wheel/tire combo in 15" (verses my current 14"). Any reason I should not go ahead and select the larger diameter wheels? Any benefit? There appears to be ample vertical and horizontal clearance under the fenders for a much taller tire.

If I buy the Goodyear radials again, can I mount them on brand new old-school 14" chromed steel Cragar S/S mags? Will those four wheels be strong enough for trailering a gross load of 5500 lbs? I realize the stupidity of chromed steel wheels in brackish and salt water launchings, but if I hose them down each time I get home will they at least be safe while they get rusty. LOL!

Any other hot ideas?

07-16-2013, 09:43 PM

07-16-2013, 10:28 PM
Stick with trailer tire specific tires there is a difference, I've had good luck with the Goodyear marathons, I trailer about 5,000 miles a year on a single axle and I wouldn't put anything but a trailer tire on my trailer.

07-17-2013, 06:07 AM
I'm a tire guy. (Or at least I was for 15 years)

1) Stay with the radials.
2) "Trailer" specific tires manditory are in some states. And probably a good idea anyways.
3) Stay away from cheap "no name" or obscure brands from offshore.
4) Larger tires will hold more air and may have greater capacity. They may also have less revolutions per mile. Neither of these may be of benefit to you. They may also take more fuel to pull down the road and have irregular wear issues. You need to select the right tire for the job.
5) Craiger can supply the specs on the wheels to see if they are okay.

The Goodyear Marathon is a decent tire IMHO.

Carl C
07-17-2013, 07:48 AM
Woobs, how are trailer tires different? (not saying they aren't different, just wonder how)

07-17-2013, 08:13 AM
My 16's trailer came with bias ply, it was a pain to roll by hand. I put new radials on for the 1K run, with the radials I could move the trailer easily by hand.

To answer Carl's ?? trailer tires have stronger side walls, and like mentioned above are mandatory in most states.

07-17-2013, 08:33 AM
OK, yes ST tires are much preferred to regular car tires etc. but I don't use them due to their proneness to overheat and explode. I run Michelin E rated light truck tires on all of my trailers which are for my Donzi 22C, my Correct Craft, and a 30 foot Airstream. You have to switch to 16" wheels and the tires are expensive, but you literally don't have to worry at all if you are making long pulls. If you are making short lower speed runs, ST's are just fine. Remember that ST's are MAX rated at about 60 mph. Most of my pulls exceed that speed ;-)

07-17-2013, 09:17 AM
I don't know a lot about tire engineering, but, I assume that in some ways, trailer tires are like de-contented light truck tires.
For instance, trailer tires don't have to stand up to much side load like a truck tire does when steering, so that extra bit of material can be left out.
It seems like 15 years ago, light truck tires were available in a lot of smaller sizes......where have they gone? So in 13"-14"-and in 15", it seems like trailer tires are the only option.

Carl C
07-17-2013, 09:22 AM
Here's a place to shop;


Shadow trailers in California. Great selection on tires and wheels. free shipping on orders over $75.00. Seem to be good pricing. No sales tax.

My tire on that site is $131.
On www.tirerack.com it is $109 w/shipping, no tax. Tire rack also has partnerships with mounters all over the country and locally I pay $15 out the door each for mount, balance & valve stem.

07-17-2013, 11:58 AM
Woobs, how are trailer tires different? (not saying they aren't different, just wonder how)

The casing of a trailer tire is designed with linear forces in mind and maximized for its load capibilities. It is a free rolling wheel. There are no "drive" forces being transmitted from the wheel through the sidewall and virtually no side forces for "steering" (although side scrub is accounted for). the "belt package is designed for stability" in a straight line.

A trailer casing may be more robust in the sidewall area ("SWP" side wall protectors) to help combat damage from curbs but, this is not true of all trailer tires. Adding thickness to a tire increases the heat (heat is a tires worst enemy) that is held, and also increases unsprung weight leading to poorer fuel mileage and possibly a loss in rolling resistance.

There's nothing technically wrong with using the proper sized LT (light truck) or PSR (passenger) tires as long as they are designed to carry the desired load. (I actually use PSR tires on my trailer). Be careful here, as some states mandate use "Trailer" tires and the fines are severe. Some major companies no longer make "trailer" rated tires but, still sell a lot of tires for trailers.

07-17-2013, 12:14 PM
On a dual axle trailer the side loading in pretty bad jacking into a tight turn, I think that is why they have stronger side walls.

Do a Google search it should convince anyone to stick with trailer tires!

07-17-2013, 12:28 PM
That is called "scrub" and is a HUGE issue with trailers on the big rigs and tight loading docks. It is a low speed "dragging" of the tire sideways and leads to tearing of tread and flatspotting. This leads to uneven (or irregular) wear and vibrations....all bad for longevity.

You should avoid tight turns if possible....trailer tire or not.

BTW: PSR and LT tires tend to "wander" a bit more especially on uneven highways. You must keep in mind that these tires are designed to steer (with the forces that implies) and transmit drive forces while at the same time provide a better "ride", be quieter and provide grip under many different conditions.

Last Tango
07-17-2013, 04:30 PM
In continuing my research, listening to all of you, and using the links you have provided, I see one major snag in going to 15" rims - they may not work on my bolt diameter.

The websites provided (THANK YOU TO ALL!) have a lot more technical data posted than Walmart and West Marine. In looking closely, it appears to me that 14" diameter rims mostly have a 4.5" diameter bolt pattern, whereas the 15" wheels usually have a 5" diameter bolt pattern. Big difference!!! The suggested websites also have bolt patterns you can download and print out to make certain you are buying the correct size for your application.

I agree that the 15" wheels will likely have more weight to rotate. I also noticed that many of the 15" wheels have closed centers rather than the open centers I am used to seeing on boat trailers so you can hit the bearings frequently with a lube gun. The Cragar S/S mags I was thinking about have an open center, but that is normally covered with the center cap. I have a friend with Cragar S/S mags on his car. I will see if they even fit the bolt pattern on my trailer axles.

One of the things about radials over bias ply is that they are better at dissipating heat (from my reading). Important detail. And most of the research I have read so far indicates that trailer tires actually have MORE meat in the sidewalls than regular car tires. Car tires need to flex more for comfort. Trailer tires need to be stiff and hold the trailer straight. I think.

I remember several years ago here, we darn near got into a fist fight on this forum over whether it was safe to use truck-rated tires for our trailers. Seems we still have some folks on both sides of that fence. One would think light truck rated tires would be OK considering they are put through the same stress as trailer tires.

However, I am still leaning toward spending the extra cash and staying with the Goodyear Marathons radials since they have been very good to me on this application. I particularly like the west coast link that mounts and balances them on the new wheels and ships them for free (and with no sales tax).

But then what to do with the take-offs... ? Can't just stack them out behind the garage in my neighborhood.

I am one of those guys that think it is tacky to order just the tires and then have the local tire shop do the mount and balance, knowing they are pissed because I didn't order the tires through them. Just my way of thinking on that, though. Plus, the new tires would be getting mounted on the old rims (that don't shine anymore).

Gary S
07-17-2013, 04:45 PM
From what I have heard Goodyear Marathons are not what they used to be. Most if not all trailer tires are not made here anymore. I have an old Correct craft trailer with 12" wheels and spent alot of time searching for tires. I realize that now days it's an odd size but I could not find a tire that was not made in China. Found some at Discount Tire but now 2 years later they do not have them anymore. Good luck in your quest--

Last Tango
07-17-2013, 04:47 PM
Another thought I had was to just go get a pair of the Walmart cheapies to mount on just one side of the trailer. Scares you, doesn't it! LOL!

But I would then remove the old tires from the two original rims and "refinish" the rims, mount and balance two new Goodyear radials onto the old (newly refinished) rims and remount them to the trailer. Rinse and repeat on the other side. Then mount one of the Walmartians in place of the existing (and quite dead) spare.

Or maybe just one Walmartian and start with one mounted wheel and the spare. Or whatever, but you get the idea.

Can the original galvanized wheels be "refinished"? Can they be painted? Can they be powder coated? Can they be bead blasted? Will that ruin the galvanized protection?

07-17-2013, 04:55 PM
I would not use the Cragers. The steel will rust through the chrome in no time and then they look like pooh. Having grown up where they put salt on the roads, I have seen this happen a lot.

I would go with Al. rims. There are tons of styles, the prices are right, and they don't rust. Who cares if they are made in China.:embarasse

Do a google search on Aluminum trailer wheels.

You can get chrome, open ended center caps to go along with them and chrome lug nuts.

As far as mounting, if you get them shipped separately from the tires, any local used tire shop will gladly mount and balance them for you. You can then take the used ones and sell them or the shop will take them, and most likely sell them. Here, I can put mine out for trash pickup on Fridays. They take them, no charge.

Just some options.

07-17-2013, 08:42 PM
I did some shopping on 14" tires about a year ago. Wanting to get 15", but couldn't make 15's work without changing a few things. I stuck with a 14" tire, but found load range D tires, and so far, I very happy with them. Here is a link: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Kumho&tireModel=Radial+857

07-17-2013, 08:56 PM
Wal-Mart has the Goodyear Marathons without wheels, more than likely in stock, if not they can order them and have them in a couple of days. The Goodyear Marathons should also include free mounting.

07-20-2013, 11:03 AM
Mark, I bought some Tow Max STR Power King 205-75-15's rated at 1820# per tire with 5 lug alum rims, that leaves me about a 18-20% capacity margin since my routine loaded weight is about 6,200#

so far, they have been great after 3,000 miles or so, VERY stable towing, easy to balance, and NO sidewall wiggle like the Marathon's have exhibited ... I run them at 48# cold. I'll let ya know more after next weekends 1700 mile trip...

send me an email addy and i'll send ya some pic's of the setup

Last Tango
09-03-2013, 09:21 PM
I want to thank everyone who posted. I read every post more than once, went to all the links provided and used them more than once, considered every opinion, and then thought about it some more. Then re-read every post and the PM's I received.

Today I bought 5 Goodyear Marathon Radials ST205/75 R 14's (four on the ground and a new spare). The whole thing was done by my local tire store who cut me one heck of a deal, mounted and balanced them on my original galvanized wheels, and had me out the door in less than an hour.

Again, I truly value EVERY opinion here and sincerely thank everyone. I know some will be happy, some will be hurt I didn't follow their specific advice, and others will wonder what the heck I was thinking. LOL!

But that seems to be pretty normal, and why I hang around here.