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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Load Range - Ply Rating - Standard Load and related markings

Had a good question from George. He said "The tires on my Chevy Silverado say "Standard Load" rather than Load Range. What does Standard Load actually mean?"

The simple answer is that your tires are rated equivalent to Load Range B. But I am sure that raises more questions.

This is a good time to clarify some of these terms. To do that we need a bit of a history lesson so we understand why the term "Ply Rating" is out of date.

80 years ago when tires had cotton for the body fabric four Bias plies were needed for use on passenger cars. Trucks needed more air to carry their heavy load which meant more layers or plies were needed to hold the increased air pressure, so truck tires had 6, 8, 10, or more actual layers of cotton body fabric. They needed the even number because they were Bias not Radial construction.

With the invention of synthetic materials such as Nylon, Rayon, Polyester fewer layers or "Plies" of fabric were needed to hold the same air pressure. The term "Ply Rating" came into use when the actual number of plies of these synthetic materials was less than the number of cotton plies.

I remember when I started working in truck tire design in 1969 using terms like "6 for 8" meaning we were using 6 plies of Nylon to deliver the strength of 8 plies.

With the introduction of Radial construction from Europe a new size standard based on actual tire dimensions was used but something was needed to address load so about this time the use of "Ply rating" was replaced with "Load Range" and a letter was used instead of a number as the number was misleading the consumer. We ended up with Load Range, or "LR" B replacing the number 4 and C replacing 6, D replace 8 etc. Since essentially all passenger cars came with Load range B tires it was decided this was the "Standard" load and this did not need to be marked on the tire. There are a few "Extra Load" passenger type tires which you could consider like a LR-C and they are marked as such.

All Light Truck and Heavy Truck tires are marked "Load Range x" with the x being the Load Range for that tire. They may also simply have the Load Range letter right after the size.

To further confuse things there is now a "Service Description" which includes the speed rating. So you may have a passenger tire marked:
P205/75R15 84H The 84 is the "Load Index" and the H is the Speed Symbol.

A Light Truck tire might be LT205/75R15 98/95Q LRC with 98 being the single Load Index and 98 the Dual Load Index and Q the Speed Symbol and LRC indicating the tire is rated a Load Range C tire.

A heavy truck or bus tire might say 255/70R22.5 LR-G 138/134M At this point I trust you can figure out what the letters and numbers mean. If not and want more info check out
this link or simply ask the question.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for helping me decipher all those sidewall numbers and letters. Very helpful.


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