Wondering the performance of E-rated tires? Those writings on the (tire) wall can be as confusing as quantum physics. For all you know that’s the formulation to find dark matter in our universe. But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here.
If you want to know more about E-rated tires and want to decipher those alphanumeric codes on your tires, we’ll answer all your questions here.
What Are E-Rated Tires?
Tires have multiple ratings for numerous aspects. When talking about E-rated tires, it can refer to two ratings. The first is the speed rating of a tire, which uses alphabet codes. However, an E-speed rating isn’t very common nowadays, as it means the tires can only handle 80mph.
Instead, when talking about E-rated tires, most people are referring to the load rating of the tires, which also uses an alphabet code. The load rating is the indicator to identify the ply-rating of the tires. The more layers or plies it has, the stronger the tires are and it can handle higher tire pressure at max load.
E-rated tires sit somewhere in the middle of the chart. It means that it has 10 plies, and E1-rated tires can handle up to 80PSI, while E2 tires can handle up to 65PSI.
Keep in mind that this load rating only exists in Light Truck (LT) tires. This is because standard Passenger (P) tires have 4 plies across the range, while LT tires can be anywhere between 6 to 14 plies. Hence the need for a more complicated rating. Here’s the complete guide:
- C1, 6-ply with max pressure at 50PSI
- C2, 6-ply with max pressure at 35PSI
- D1, 8-ply with max pressure at 65PSI
- D2, 8-ply with max pressure at 50PSI
- E1, 10-ply with max pressure at 80PSI
- E2, 10-ply with max pressure at 65PSI
- F1, 12-ply with max pressure at 95PSI
- G, 14-ply with max pressure at 110PSI
How About The Load Rating In Passenger Tires?
Unlike those LT tires, Passenger tires have a much simple load rating. They are either SL which stands for Standard Load which can go up to 36PSI. Or XL which means Extra Load and you can inflate it up to 41PSI.
Why Is This Important?
It’s important because when you carry heavy loads, you’ll want to increase the tire pressure. This is because heavy loads will push down on the tires, increasing their contact patch with the road. While this means more grip, it can lower fuel efficiency.
Many truck owners also say that having a higher tire pressure will prevent the trailer (if you’re towing any) from snaking, making it overall safer to drive. This is because higher tire pressure stiffens the tire wall, making it more rigid and stable.
Since not all tires are built equal, it’s important to consider your tire load rating to see how much PSI you can inflate it by. If you inflate to above the rating, you risk having a tire blowout since the tires are not strong enough to handle it.
E-Rated Tires: Load Rating VS Load Index
Pretty clear, right? But the load rating doesn’t tell us how much weight the tires can carry. For that, you’ll have to look at the tire load index. This is a numeric code that ranges anywhere between 0 to 150.
In passenger tires, it’s usually bunched up with the speed rating. So, as an example, it’ll be something like “93W” which means the tires have a load rating of 93 (1,443lbs), and a speed rating of W (up 168mph).
LT tires also use the same numeric code for the load rating. However, they’re written a bit differently. Confusing? Don’t worry, we don’t blame you. Here are the key takeaways:
- E-rated tires refer to the load rating, which is how much pressure the tires can handle at max load.
- This rating is only used for Light Truck tires.
- Passenger-type tires use a simpler SL (Standard Load) and XL (Extra Load) rating.
- An E-rating means the tires can handle anywhere between 60 – 85 PSI.
- For the max load capacity, you’ll need to take a look at the load index, which is a numeric code between 0 – 150. The higher the number, the more weight it can carry.
E-Rated Tires: Understanding Light Truck Tires
As mentioned, Passenger and LT tires use the same universal code. However, they’re written a bit differently since they have more ratings. It all seems like gibberish, but let us try to help you understand it better. If you want to learn about Passenger tires, we wrote an in-depth guide in our article about all-season tires.
As for LT tires, to make it easier to explain, we’ll be using a popular tire size of the Michelin LTX tires. In this case, we’ll use the LT265/70R17/E, 121/118R tire rating and decipher that. This is a popular tire size for both trucks and trailers.
There are plenty more markings on a tire, such as “M+S” which means Mud and Snow and is usually present for winter tires. However, we’ll focus on deciphering the size, load, and speed rating as those are the most crucial part:
Tire Type And Size
The first and biggest letters and numbers you’ll probably notice are the tire type and size. In LT tires, the load rating is usually written with the tire type and size.
Our example is LT265/70R17/E. As mentioned, the LT is the tire type and stands for Light Truck which means it’s meant for trucks, SUVs, and light trailers.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation about tire type:
- Passenger (P) which are the tires for cars and crossover SUVs. If the tire doesn’t have any letters at the front, this means it’s a Passenger-type tire.
- LT, as mentioned stands for Light Trucks. It has more plies and therefore stronger which is why trucks and offroad vehicles use them.
- ST stands for Special Trailers which is a tire type for trailers for heavy-duty loads.
- T stands for Temporary and is the tire type for spare tires.
Meanwhile, the number after that (in this case 265) is the tire width in millimeters. The number after that (70) is a percentage of the tire wall height. The bigger the number, the higher the tire height which means the tire is thicker.
As for the ‘R’, that stands for Radial-type ply as opposed to diagonal bias-ply tires. You’ll often see bias-ply tires in trucks for commercial use. The number after that (17) indicates the wheel size the tire will fit. In this case, it will fit 17-inch wheels.
Finally, you get to the load rating of the tire which is E. As mentioned, this is a 10-ply tire and can withstand up to 60PSI at max load.
Tire Load Index And Speed Rating
In our example, the load index and speed rating are 121/118R. Unlike passenger tires, LT tires typically have two load index ratings, hence why it has two numbers (121 and 118). The first number indicates the maximum load it can withstand when used as a single tire. So, 121 means the tires can carry up to 2,469lbs.
Meanwhile, the second number is the tire’s load index when it’s used as a dual tire. Dual tires mean that two tires are used together on one side, meaning a total of four tires on an axle.
But why is the load index lower when used as dual tires? Simply put, it’s industry practice to reduce the load index rating by 10% for dual tire uses since the inner tires often experience more load. In other words, it’s a safety margin.
As for the ‘R’ rating in our example is the speed rating. The tire speed rating is universal, so it’s the same as Passenger tires. In this case, R means the tire can safely travel up to 80mph.
How Do I Know If It’s An E1 Or E2 -Rated Tire?
Simple, take a look at the tire width. If it’s more than 305mm, then it’s an E1-rate tire which means it can handle up to 80PSI. Meanwhile, tires under 305mm in width is E2-rate tire, which can “only” handle up to 65PSI.
Do I Need E-Rated Tires?
You will need E-rated tires if you carry a load of load with your truck or SUV. Be it on your cargo bed or trunk, or by towing, having E-rated tires or stronger will help to ensure that your vehicle can cope with the load.
There’s also a bit of benefit to using these tires if you go offroad. While E-rated tires are not quite as flexible (which is what you want when offroading) you can offset this by lowering the tire pressure. But thanks to the stronger construction, it helps to fend off punctures such as from sharp rocks.
If you don’t do either of the things above, you won’t really benefit from having stronger tires.
E-Rated Tires Buying Guide
So, now you know about E-rate tires from what they are to what they’re good for. But which one to buy? Here’s our guide to choosing the right tire, and we’ll also give some quick recommendations later on:
Mud, Highway, Or An All-rounder?
Trucks and SUVs have three different types of tires available: Highway-Terrain (H/T), All-Terrain (A/T), and Mud-Terrain (M/T). HT tires, as the name suggests, are designed to go on the road. Their tread depth is much shallower, which reduces friction and road noise, making it ideal for road and highway use.
A/T tires are the middle-road option. The tread depth is deeper, allowing it to have better traction on loose surfaces than HT tires. They’re also usually the most ideal when it comes to offroading on rocky surfaces. However, the deeper tread means it’s likely to create more road noise as you drive along.
As for M/T tires, these are dedicated offroad tires with deep treads and tread patterns ideal for offroading. The deeper tread patterns mean it can handle loose surfaces like mud, sand, and gravel much better. However, this comes at a cost. It’s expensive, it makes a lot of noise on the road, and often worsens on-road performance and fuel economy due to the immense grip.
If you don’t take your vehicle offroading, H/T tires are your best friends. E-rated HT tires are few and far between though, but there are a few of them available.
Meanwhile, choosing between A/T and M/T tires is a matter of how often you go offroading, and how extreme is your offroading session. In most cases, A/T tires will suffice and will provide decent comfort on the road.
Summer Or Winter?
While truck tires have deep treads, they’re not all equal, especially when it comes to snow. Snow is much more complicated and slippery, so even M/T tires may not be any good with snow. For this reason, you’ll have to consider between all-season or snow tires.
If you live in a region that’s pretty much dry all year long, such as California, stick to summer tires. There’s no need to consider all the other types of tires.
Winter, all-season, and all-weather tires on the other hand are a bit more complicated. They have different tread patterns and compounds to suit different driving conditions.
The bottom line is if you live somewhere that snows for an extended period, such as Washington or Oregon, you’ll want snow tires. Their tread patterns are designed to deal with snow, giving you optimum performance.
If you live somewhere in-between, consider all-weather tires. They have good performance in mild winter conditions and will provide good traction in the rain.
How about all-season tires then? Despite their name, all-season tires are not a “one tire to conquer them all” solution. All-season tires are actually geared towards dealing with dry conditions, with somewhat decent performance in mild winter conditions. Choose this if you live in an area with very mild winters.
Know Your Load
Before making a purchase decision, consider the load you’ll be carrying. When it comes to tire size, you can just buy the size that your vehicle is currently running. You’ll only need to reconsider it when you buy new rims.
For example, if you currently have 18-inch rims and want to buy new 20-inch rims, then you’ll need new tires that will fit its diameter and width – should the width be different. But otherwise, you can just look for the same size.
However, you’ll definitely need to consider the tire’s load index if you’re going to be hauling stuff. To calculate this, you’ll need to know the weight of your vehicle as well as the things you’re going to haul or carry.
As an example, let’s say your truck weighs 5,000lbs. And then let’s say you’ll be hauling an extra 3,000lbs, so that adds up to a total of 8,000lbs. Assuming your truck has four wheels (no dual tires), divide that by four means you’ll need tires that have a load index of at least 105 (2094lbs).
As for the trailer tires themselves (if you’re towing a trailer), we recommend sticking to the load range and index found on the trailer’s certification label or in the owner’s manual. Learn more about trailer tires here.
Read Consumer Reviews
You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from consumer reviews. Be sure to read online reviews of the tires you’re planning to buy to make sure that the tires live up to their claims and there are no glaring issues. If a review has the same vehicle as you do, pay close attention to that.
E-Rated Tires Recommendations
Still not sure on which tire you should buy? Here are some quick recommendations from us you should consider:
1. Best Highway-Terrain: Firestone Transforce HT2
If you don’t go offroading, the Firestone Transforce HT2 is probably for you. Firestone highlights quiet ride, fuel efficiency, and comfort as its key features. It’s available in many different sizes, with the smallest one being 215/85R16, to as large as 285/60R20, and many options in between.
The load index gets higher as well the larger you go, with the smallest tire having a load index of 115/112, and the larger ones going as high as 126/123. As for the speed rating, it varies between R and S, which is 106mph and 112mph respectively.
Reviews are mostly positive, with one review saying that it has excess tire wear but this seems to be an isolated issue. Meaning it’s likely a problem with the vehicle, not with the tires themselves. The price starts at around $179.
Keep in mind that this is an all-season tire, so winter performance won’t exactly be impressive.
2. Best All-Around: Cooper Discoverer A/T3
Good high-speed cornering, the tread pattern is good off the road, and good control on both wet and dry surfaces. These are the review of the Cooper Discoverer A/T3, an all-season All-Terrain tire.
While Cooper Tires is not the first brand that comes to mind when you think of tires, there’s no denying they’ve made a good All-Terrain tire here as MotorTrend has proven.
Its biggest weakness seems to be mud and slushy snow, but apart from that, it’s a good allrounder on and off the road and starts at a reasonable $212.
3. Best For Offroad: Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Kevlar
For extreme offroad needs, consider the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R Kevlar. Deep tread for maximum traction, good wet conditions performance, and Kevlar-reinforced sidewalls to resist those pesky punctures.
Keep in mind that this is a dedicated offroad tire, so it won’t exactly be comfortable or quiet on the road. Additionally, customers are reporting a decrease in fuel efficiency after using these tires. Price? It starts at around $269 for the smaller ones, but you may easily pay above $300 per tire depending on your tire size.
4. Best For Snow: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
There are plenty of good winter tires out there, but we believe the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 is the best one if you’re looking for absolute performance on snow.
Come mud or snow, it’s an excellent performer and hence why offroad and truck enthusiasts love them. However, as you can probably tell, the deep and aggressive tread pattern means that it’s not the best for road use. Some customers have complained that it’s excessively loud while on the road.
Nevertheless, these are excellent for snow and that’s what we’re looking for here. The only downside is that it’s not studdable should you need help in icy conditions. For that, take a look at the Falken Wildpeak AT3W or the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac.
The BFGoodrich comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, and starts at a reasonable $219, although larger sizes are anywhere between $300 – $430 per tire.
5. Best Budget Option: Kumho Road Venture APT KL51
If you’re on a tight budget, then the Kumho Road Venture APT KL51 is our pick. It’s a H/T tire, so you won’t be adventuring off the road in this, but if you need cheap E-rated tires, this one’s for you.
On the upside, it’s comfortable and quiet on the road. And of course, it’s considerably cheaper. The smaller ones start at around $118 per tire, while larger ones cost no more than $200.
E-Rated Tires: Wrap Up
To conclude load rating E means that it’s a 10-ply tire that can handle up anywhere between 60PSI to 85PSI when carrying the max load. To know the maximum weight capacity of a tire, you’ll need to check the load index. The higher the number, the more weight it can hold up.
E-rated tires are only necessary if you’re going to haul heavy loads. Increasing the tire pressure will help overall performance when carrying heavy loads, and E-rated tires will allow you to inflate the tires quite significantly. It also has offroad benefits, although tread patterns and depth matter more.
Unless you often haul heavy loads or go offroading often, there’s no need for E-rated tires. Chances are, the ones you have on your vehicle now are good enough.
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