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Trailer tires: What’s the Difference Between Radial and Bias-ply?


There are two kinds of trailer tires, radial and bias-ply. Each has its own advantages. Here’s how to tell which type you have:

This is the tire size. You can find it on the sidewall of a trailer tire. This tire size has an “R” in the middle, so that tells us it’s a radial trailer tire.

This tire size doesn’t contain an “R,” so we know this is a bias-ply trailer tire.

Next we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the two types of trailer tires. It really comes down to how, and where, you use your trailer.

Radial trailer tires

Radial tires are built with cords, or plies, that run perpendicular to the direction of travel, and belts under the tread. This gives them a smoother ride and helps prevent heat build-up, which can make the tires last longer.

  • Best for highway use and longer trips
  • More expensive than bias-ply tires
  • Prevent heat buildup more effectively, helping prevent blowouts
  • Not as good on rough roads as bias-ply ties
  • Better for towing at high speed
  • Smoother ride and longer life
  • Less prone to developing flat spots when parked for long periods

Bias-ply trailer tires

Bias-ply tires are built with plies that are layered so they crisscross over each other. This creates a more rugged design, with greater puncture resistance in the sidewall.

  • Less expensive than radial trailer tires
  • May wear faster than radial tires
  • Stiffer sidewall means less sway and bounce
  • Tire may ride rougher than a radial
  • Rugged design stands up to rough terrain and off-road use
  • May not last as long as a radial tire
  • A good choice for shorter trips

No matter which type of trailer tire you choose – radial or bias-ply – make sure you don’t mix them on your trailer. Since their internal construction is so different, each type performs differently, and combining them can negatively affect your trailer’s ride quality and the tires’ life.

If you have questions, or if you’d like help finding the right trailer tires, give our tire experts a call at (866) 961-8668.

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