Light Truck Tires vs. Passenger
What your customers need to know when upgrading to an LT tire.
Bad things happen when perfectly good tires are asked to do a job they weren’t designed for. Case in point – a pick-up truck that comes off the factory floor with passenger tires, but is later used to either tow or carry loads that only an LT can handle.
The obvious solution is an upgrade to a set of LT tires, but what should your customers know before making the switch?
For starters, the customer needs to know they’re getting a completely different product. “Everything is different,” says Martin Cousineau, Product Service Manager for Continental Tire Canada. “The LT has a stronger bead design, a stronger casing, the compound is different, the tread is more aggressive. These are tires that are designed to work hard, or to go off-road.”
The trade-off is a harsher ride, and a shorter treadlife. But if the truck is going to work hard, then the customer really doesn’t have much of a choice.
Although installing an LT tire wheel is essentially the same as installing a passenger tire, there are a couple of things the tire technician needs to keep in mind. “First,” Cousineau explains, “you have to pay extra attention to the size of the tire because some LT tires come with 0.5 sizes – 16.5-inch, for example. And if you try to put a 16.5-inch tire on a 16-inch wheel, the tire will dismount by itself. The opposite, putting a smaller tire on a larger wheel, will cause damage. So that’s something the installer has to pay attention to.”
Next, keep in mind that the tire pressure will not be the same as on the passenger tire you’re replacing. That may seemlogical to you, the installer, but not to your customer. “Normally, the customer won’t find the increased psi requirement written in the owner’s manual of the vehicle,” Cousineau says. “That’s why it’s important for the tire dealers to pass along that insight.”
Although the increase in tire pressure is on average about 10 psi, the exact pressure varies, depending on the tire. “Most of the good tire dealers know that they have to look up the specs to find the exact tire pressure requirements,” Cousineau adds, “but some may not be aware that it’s necessary. That’s why we do training on an ongoing basis with dealers. We want to make sure everyone is up to date.”
If you get a customer who wants to upgrade to LT tires for his SUV, you’ll want to take the time to find out why, and to thoroughly explain the pros and cons of doing so before selling him anything. “AN LT tire is not made for an SUV,” Cousineau explains. “It’s made for a pickup truck. Some consumers think that by upgrading to an LT tire they will not have to deal with damage from potholes because the tire is stronger, but that’s not true. Even an LT tire will be damaged by potholes.”
Generally speaking, SUVs are designed for comfort and not work. So if an SUV owner is inquiring about LT tires, it’s critical to find out why. If you sell them LT tires for the wrong reasons, they might just come back frustrated with the harsher ride.
Remember, bad things can happen when perfectly good tires are asked to do a job they weren’t designed for. This is true whether you’re asking passenger tires to do the job of an LT tire, or whether you ask an LT tire to ride as comfortably as a passenger tire.