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Tire Help, Please

dlamastrdlamastr Posts: 15
edited March 2014 in Ford
Can someone please explain tire "codes" in plain
English? Specifically, what does "LT235/85R16E AT
BSW" mean? What's the difference between "BSW" and
"OWL"? How do I know what is best for me?
There's 6 different options on the Ford Super Duty
I'm configuring, and I don't know which one to


  • stanfordstanford Posts: 606
    No problem. The one you specified:

    LT - Light Truck
    235 - Tread is nominally 235 millimeters wide
    85 - Tire height is 85% of width (200mm/side)
    R - Radial (just about all tires are radial)
    16 - Requires a wheel 16" in diameter
    E - Load range E (usually indicates 10 plys)

    BSW - Black side wall
    OWL - Outline white letters

    AS - All season
    AT - All terrain

    As for the truck, are you getting 6 wheels or 4? 2WD or 4WD? I'm ordering a 4x4 DRW and am getting the LT235/85R16 AT (all terrain) BSW tires myself.

    I'd take the all terrains offered rather than the highway only tires if you ever expect to drive through even slightly muddy grass. The AT tires offered as factory equipment are generally very mild; they won't dramatically increase road noise and decrease comfort the way some models do.

    Beyond that, wider tires will generally give better dry traction. Narrower tires will give slightly better mileage and may offer better traction on some forms of off-road tracks. Folk generally seem to think that wider tires also look 'cooler'. I will say that the SD has some mighty big wheelwells to fill.
  • dlamastrdlamastr Posts: 15
    Thanks, stanford, for the info. I'm getting a 4WD SRW. The choices are much clearer now: I don't want white lettering, and I definitely want all-terrains, so it's just a choice between the 235/85 (narrow) and 265/75 (wide) tires, a difference of just under 1.25". What a difference in price, though: $170 MSRP. But, I guess on a $30K truck, it's a nit.
  • stanfordstanford Posts: 606
    Personally, I'd go for the 265s. They're only going to be load range D (8 ply), but the 235s look a little funny on that truck IMO. If you have a brochure handy, the tan SRW regular cab
    on the accessories page has the 265s.. they're
    a nice size. You probably won't see any large
    difference between the two IRL.

    The profile differences (85/75) mean that both
    tires are almost the same height (actually a 2
    millimeter difference) so gearing won't change
    on them. Enjoy the truck!
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516

    All correct with one exception. The "235" figure is in millimeters, but it's the section width of the tire from sidewall to sidewall - this does include unloaded bulge width. Tread width is a bit narrower than section width, depending on the tire brand.

    Also, the 265/75s on the Super Duty are E-range (10 ply) and have a higher load rating (3415 vs 3042) per tire than the 235/85E.
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    I'd like to know what everyone else uses for their truck tires. I've had good luck with Bridgestones, and i've seen some bad Goodyears, and i wouldn't buy Goodyear. any comments?
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    from a recommendation by one of the guys in my Ram club, I dropped the OEM Badyears for Cooper Discoverer LT - deep all-terrain tread (a full 18/32s), some whine at speed, but tolerable, almost no weights to speak of to balance, and excellent wear.

    I have them in the OEM size, LT215/85R16E, only $110 a throw at my neighborhood Cooper dealer.
  • stevekstevek Posts: 362
    I got 265/75R16 Michelin X tires last year for my '97 with highway treads. It was on sale at Sears and paid $425.00 (thats right!!!) including mounting and balancing. You do not need new valves since they have a metal stem.
  • richflynnrichflynn Posts: 147
    I've done similar things with Sears for tires. BTW, if you go get a legitimate bid from any tie store, Sears will match it. The big advantage is that Sears has service points all over the US.

    I had the Michelin high pressure tires on my '86. Good mileage, harsh ride. I originally had Firestones on my '92, slippery in the wet. Changed to Goodyear Wranglers. Damn things, only got about 65,000 miles out of them. I've got the Firestones on the '99. They are so new that none of the local stores had the inflation chart for the tires. I had to call Akron to get the correct numbers. (LT 265x75 16R all season) These seem better than the previous 'stones in the wet. We'll see.....

  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    I replaced tires on my 92 F-250 at 40,000 and at 80,000. I could have ran them longer. They weren't bald, but the tread wears down to the point that they slip to much on wet surfaces since the truck has no weight in the back. When I put my truck in 4wd to stop from slipping in the rain, I figure it's time to get new tires. I like lots of traction. The first set I had were the stock 235 Firestone A/T. The second set were 265 Goodyear Wrangler A/T. The last set I put on in December were 285 BF Goodrich A/T. I only put about 7,500 miles on them before I sold the truck a few weeks ago. I suspect I would have replaced them after 40,000 miles like the other sets.

    As far as size goes, I noticed a definite difference in mpg and the extra power required to move the truck with the 285s. I liked sitting up higher and the tires filled out the wheel wells better, but I think the 265s were probably the size I liked best of the three. The 235s got the better mpg and were probably the best choice on paper, but they looked pretty skinny on the truck. I'll be getting the 235 A/T tires on my new Superduty, but I won't have the same problem filling out the wheel wells. The new truck will be a 4wd dually. The 235s are the biggest tire available. What brand are the dually tires on the new truck? I think I heard that they were not the Firestones like the SRW tires.
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    Car and Driver tested a DRW F350 a month or so ago (issuewise) - it had General Grabber 235/85s on it. You will find yourself removing them in a hell of a hurry if that's what you get. Both my Fords (90 and 93 F150s) had General Grabbers as OEM, and they sucked like a ShopVac. Wore out like cheap doormats. The 90 I only had for 2 years, so I wasn't concerned much, but on the 93, I swapped to Wrangler RT/S of the same size, and they still had plenty of tread after 45,000 miles of use.
  • davepercdaveperc Posts: 76
    Couldn't tell by the entry. Did the mileage difference come from error in odometer reading from different size tires? The larger tire diameter would show up as less miles, giving you the impression of lower mileage.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    That may have been some of it, but I'm sure I actually was using more gas. When I first put the 285s on in December, I know I had to push the gas pedal down a little harder to move the truck. I didn't notice it when I went from the 235s to the 265s. The 285s are just big tires. It takes more to turn them. Of course, the 5.8L had plenty of power to do the job.

    I have to laugh at the guys who have these compact pickups with lift kits and huge tires, but they haven't done anything to the engine. Heck, they'd probably get stuck in a mud puddle. They create all this clearance and they put on tires with lots of traction, but the engine probably is working close to max just to push the truck on pavement. Put them in some mud, and they will be very lucky if they can get those tires moving.
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    unless they have enough sense to change the differential.
  • pttaylorpttaylor Posts: 34
    Does anyone know what the maxamim tire size I can put on my 15x7 stock Dakota rims? I currently have 215R75/15s that were original equipment. I would like to go to a wider tire. Thank all of you for your helpful info throughout the Pick-up forum!-PTTaylor
  • stanfordstanford Posts: 606
    You could fit around a 265/75R15 without too much trouble. You might be able to get a 285/75 but that would be a very big tire for the 7" wheel (I had them for a while on my Ford).

    Make sure that you have enough clearance when turning that the tire doesn't hit the sway bar and/or inner fender wells also. If you use an aftermarket tire with more backspacing than stock this will be less of an issue.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    Just remember that, just because it fits in the wheel well without rubbing anything when you hit bumps and turn in regular driving conditions, it doesn't mean it is the best tire for the truck. You could still be limiting your ability to drive off-road or even on dirt side roads that have deep ruts. The looks of a vehicle are obviously important, but it's a good idea to make sure that the loss of functionability (I think I just made up a word) is a trade-off you can live with.
  • I'm still trying to piece together my dream S-10 4WD ext. cab pickup. (It's looking more and more like I'll have to order a '99, since all the '98s I see on the lots are pretty stripped.) I'll be getting the 4-speed automatic and probably the "regular" Vortec V-6 (as opposed to the high-output one). This will be a "city truck"; I drive about 20000 miles per year, but I won't be hauling more than an occasional light load. I just want the V-6 engine and 4WD capability for the upstate NY winter. I should add that I seem to attract nails and go through tires like Kleenex. (I already lost one of my Sunfire's "upgraded" tires at 31000 miles while on the Ohio Turnpike; I nearly lost another 2500 miles later, but saw the nail in time to have the tire patched.) With this kind of configuration, I have only one choice of 15" aluminum wheels, which makes things easier. The tires that would come with them are P235/70R15 all-season SBR BSW's. Will these suffice for my non-off-roading lifestyle? Or if they're kind of weak, is there anything marginally tougher, that would still not be overkill or ruin my mileage? I mean, it would be a sin for a guy like me to get the ZR2 package. I bet THAT'S expensive if you pick up a nail. :)
  • In a post I submitted on august 21, I incorrectly said that I had 15x7 inch factory rims. I was mistaken. They are 15x6. My new question is "Can I put up to a 235R75/15 tire on my '98 Dakota 4x2 using the factory 15x6 inch rims????
    Another strange occurance is that I have just turned 8600 miles on the truck and the factory Goodyear Invicta 215R75/15 tires are worn out! I had them rotated at 3500 miles (fronts were wearing badly then) with oil change. The tires are wearing badly on both outer tread shoulders with a "cupping" effect! Is it out of alignment and/or camber problem? Warranty should hopefully fix this I think with only 8600 miles on this truck? Any thoughts on this? -PT Taylor
  • I'd guess that 235/75R15s should be fine on a 15X6 but have never personally run that combination. Your best bet is to check with your local NTB or Discount Tire store.
  • cdeancdean Posts: 1,110
    I ran 235/75R15s on a 15X6, it works.
  • stevekstevek Posts: 362
    to pttaylor:
    Use 235 tires (I prefer michelins). If both outside edges on your tire wears it means you had them under inflated. If it gets "cupped" it means that your alignment is off. When you get the new tires have the truck aligned as well and keep an eye on the tire preassure.
  • If you live in or have to do a lot of mountain driving it can also cause your tires to wear like that.
  • You'll never guess what the service manager did for me!!! I took my 1998 Dakota with the worn out 8600 mile tires and he upgraded me from those hidious 215/75 Goodyear Invictas to 235/15 Wrangler RS whatevers. He told me that the front end was out of alignment, most likely since the day I took delivery. He upgraded me at no cost whatsoever!!! I all most fell over!!! The truck handles great and no noticable mpg increase!
    After a Horrible experience with a 1996 KIA (Kept In Arbitration) Sportage with front-end trouble, this was nice thing for that service manager too do for me!!! -PT Taylor
  • bdonbdon Posts: 30
    I need some help understanding how flotation measurements compare with metric measurements on tires. For example, how does a 31x10.50R15 compare with a 255/70R16? I'm looking at the '99 Silverado with factory tires of 255/70R16. But my dad has a '96 Silverado with 31x10.50R15's which look really nice. What's the difference?
  • Ok, I'll give it a shot...

    The first number is the nominal width in mm. I think this is taken where the tread meets the sidewall (anyone feel free to correct me here, this is from memory!) The second number is the "aspect ratio" which is the height (above the rim?) over the width, in percent. The letter R is for "radial", and the final number is rim diameter in inches(!). To find the height of the tire in your example,
    ((255 x 0.7 / 25.4) x 2) + 16 = 30"
    and the width is just 255 / 25.4 = 10"

    so the tire could be classified as 30x10R16

  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    almost got it, hawk

    The width is measured from sidewall to sidewall at its widest point in an unloaded state (loaded tires have some additional "bulge" width).


    The physical size equivalent for a 31x10.50R15 would be a 265/75R16, if Chevy still offers it.
  • Thanks for the correction!

  • bdonbdon Posts: 30
    Thanks to both of you for the feedback. That's helpful. But why then would a company manufacture both a 31x10.50R15 AND a 265/75R16?

    Michelin apparently makes them both? Does that make any sense?
  • stanfordstanford Posts: 606
    Well, for one thing they have different inner diameters. Is that enough of a reason?
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    Flotation tires are normally intended for off-road use, the LT-metrics are usually intended for highway or on/off-road combinations. There are different tire construction issues involved - usually a flotation tire has a stronger sidewall so it can be aired down for off-roading.
This discussion has been closed.