What is an LT tyre?
Do you need an LT tyre?
Automark April 2020 Tyre
Do you need an LT tyre?
Here’s an interesting topic, even for you guys out there who aren’t into tyres. What is meant by an ‘LT’ tyre, and why is it important for your overland expedition vehicle that you fit them?
When you buy an SUV like a Toyota Prado or Fortuner, it will be fitted with an all-round tyre that will cope adequately with most situations thrown at it. (The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series, on the other hand, is fitted standard with LT tyres.) And because most SUV buyers use their vehicles predominantly on tar, the tyre will have an on-road bias. The result will be a tyre that performs excellently on the majority of its expected trips, tar and gravel, but has less ability when the terrain gets more testing, such as in mud or rocks.
One of the first upgrades that 4x4 owners make is often tyres, and they usually opt for a rugged-looking All-Terrain tyre. But did you know that not all AT tyres are created equal? Even more surprising, did you know that tyre manufacturers often have different versions of the same model tyre in their range. Things are about to get more confusing: they look identical. So why is the one far more expensive than the other?
It boils down to those two letters: LT, which stand for ‘Light Truck’.
Take Cooper tyres as an example: in their range is the well-known and highly regarded Discover AT3, which is available in both Passenger (P-Metric) and LT versions. The two versions look identical, right down to the tread.
The LT version, however, is about 40% more expensive than the P-Metric version. There are a few reasons for this:
- LT tyres are made from superior rubber compounds that are specifically suited to off-road use. They are stronger and so are more resistant to off-road damage from stones or spinning wheels on hard surfaces.
- LT tyres have much stronger sidewalls, reducing sidewall stress and increasing puncture resistance. Damaged sidewalls can’t be safely repaired, unlike the treads of a tyre.
- Because of the stronger sidewalls and superior compounds, LT tyres have a higher load index, meaning that they can carry heavier loads. This means the sidewall flexes less under the weight of a loaded vehicles, which in turn means less chance of overheating or pothole damage.
- LT tyres generally have deeper treads than equivalent P-Metric tyres, which means longer lifespan and therefore higher mileage on a set of tyres. The deeper tread can also translate to better traction off-road.
Who should buy LT tyres?
Buy LT tyres if you:
- Plan on frequently using your vehicle off-road or on rough gravel roads.
- Intend to regularly load your SUV heavily, such as for a long overland trip, or regularly tow something heavy, like a full-size caravan or boat.
- If your vehicle is a workhorse that regularly goes off-road.
LT tyres aren’t perfect, though, and do have limits. Because they are stronger and therefore more rigid, they can be less comfortable on tar. They also don’t respond well to very low tyre pressures, such as those used for sand driving, again because they are very rigid.