Tire sizes and measurements are often represented in coded letters; LT tires are a common example. These two small letters might seem insignificant at first glance, yet they actually play a critical role in deciding the car’s overall performance, tire grip, and traction.
To lift beginners’ confusion, I will dive into further detail regarding the meaning of LT. Keep scrolling through my article.
In this article:
What Does LT Mean On A Tire?
“LT” is an abbreviation for “Light Truck.” As the title indicates, LT designs are tailored for applications on lighter trucks, SUVs, or other vehicle models with additional load-carrying capacity.
Compared to their mainstream counterparts, LTs are expected to handle larger loads and offer more stability/durability.
More specifically, they are built with stiffer sidewalls and extra layers, which reinforce the entire tire construction to support large-size cargo and the towing vehicle’s overall weight.
Also, their tread patterns are more aggressive than average to sustain traction on numerous rough terrains, including snow, mud, or gravel. Off-road usage, hauling, or heavy-duty towing alike will all become a breeze with these tires.
The positions of the “LT” letters on the tires also matter, as they indicate slightly different messages:
- If the “LT” is placed before the long letter and number string: The letter signifies your tires are “Light Trucks-metric,” produced for vehicles that tow large trailers or heavy cargo loads.
- If the “LT” concludes the long letter/number string: In this case, “LT” means “Flotation Light Trucks.” Heavy towing and loads are also within their capabilities – just like the other LT tire – except that their tread patterns are specifically tailored for off-road terrains, “floating” across loose sediment and surfaces.
As such, their on-road longevity and traction are compromised. Unless you have to travel off-road often, flotation LT tires are not always the best choice.
The Pros and Cons of LT-Metric Tires
1. The Pros
- Great Load Capacity: As previously mentioned, LTs are meant to tackle heavier loads, making them a wonderful addition to hauling/towing heavy cargo on large vehicles.
- Durability: The heavier construction makes LT tires a tough opponent to beat, easily resisting external impacts and punctures. Their overall lifespan and durability benefit the most from such designs, rendering them one of the most reliable allies for difficult driving conditions.
I have installed a set of BFGoodrich LT tires on my Ford for 3 years, and the tread depth was still between 8/32-9/32 inches in my latest routine check-up.
- Off-Road Usage: Most conventional tires give up on off-road terrains. Not with LTs, however, whose traction increases ten folds on rugged surfaces. Their deeper tread patterns/tread blocks and robust structures navigate through gravel and mud with ease – as if these were paved roads.
- Working In Extreme Weather: Most LT brands offer thick rubber compounds, and chunkier layers to increase performance in icy/snowy conditions and rainstorms. With steering and handling control guaranteed, chances of accidents or collisions are pretty slim.
2. The Cons
- Stiff Ride: The rigid sidewall and heavy construction prove to be a double-knife, resulting in much stiffer driving than regular/passenger tire types. On rugged surfaces, the constant bumps and road noises might give every driver their worst nightmares.
- Lower Fuel Economy: LT tire’s rolling resistance and extra weight do not fare well on fuel efficiency.
- Higher Cost: Needless to say, with all those complex constructions, features, and add-ons, LTs are much pricier than almost any other type of tire. Budget-conscious automobile owners should take that into mind before proceeding with their purchase.
If your working conditions require heavy hauling or frequent travels to tough/challenging terrains and off-road paths, then the advantages easily outweigh the downsides.
However, for general road driving or everyday commuting, they lag far behind average passenger vehicle tires in cost-effectiveness, fuel efficiency, and comfortable rides.
All in all, you must assess your driving preferences and specific needs to decide whether LTs are a good choice.
The Differences Between LT and Average Passenger Tires
Their names should explain it all.
Light truck tires, as we have discussed, are produced for rougher rides, off-road conditions, and road duties.
Meanwhile, passenger or P-metric tires – with thinner sidewalls and less sturdy construction – are most common on passenger vehicles, coupes, crossovers, and other light vehicles for regular/everyday driving.
Higher-end passenger tires may handle wet surfaces and might even be used on some trucks. Still, drivers should tread with caution or confirm with the tire manufacturer before using these road tires that way.
Can You Put LT Tires On A Car?
The bulky construction may end up affecting your gas mileage. Worse, on highways or at greater speed, the startlingly fast wear rate on these road performance tires can bring quite a huge blow to your budget.
Not to mention the risks of tire failure and tire blowouts; nobody wants to go through that.
LT tires are not meant for every car.
Only use these commercial tires for light duty trucks/heavier vehicles, heavy loads, or high carrying demands. Regular driving and LT tires do not go quite well together; never forget that. If you still struggle with your choice of tires, contact me for more help.