When you drive an SUV or a light pickup truck, choosing the right tires can be very important. Whether you’ve got a carload of people or a truckload of equipment, your tires are what keep your vehicle safely on the road. And when it comes to passenger vs. light truck tires, knowing the difference could make all the difference.
What are light truck and passenger tires?
The difference between passenger (P-metric) and light truck (LT-metric) tires comes down to how the tire is engineered. LT-metric tires are used for rougher driving conditions. You’ll find these tires on SUVs, pickups, and vans that tend to haul a heavier load and travel in more off-road conditions.
P-metric tires offer a quieter, smoother, and more comfortable ride. Passenger tires were originally designed for use on sedans, crossovers, coupes, and other lighter vehicles—but they can also be used on trucks, under the right driving conditions. P-metric tires perform well under wet and dry conditions but are not meant for off-road use on rough or aggressive terrain.
There are three main types of passenger tires: Low Rolling Resistance tires, Touring tires, and Performance tires. Low Rolling Resistance refers to technological advances that make it possible for tires to go farther than conventional tires using the same amount of energy and fuel. Bridgestone’s Ecopia line of tires is the industry leader in this category, with Firestone’s Champion Fuel Fighter trailing close behind.
Touring tires, such as Bridgestone’s DriveGuard or Turanza, offer higher speed ratings and mileage warranties. They’re well known for providing enhanced responsiveness, road comfort, noise control, and a longer tread life than most performance tires.
Performance tires have become increasingly popular, and some manufacturers even use them on the factory models of sportier vehicles. With higher degrees of responsiveness, increased traction, and a bolder appearance, both Bridgestone’s Potenza and Firestone’s Firehawk are leading examples within the Performance segment.
Light Truck Tires
Light truck or LT-metric tires have more rigid sidewalls and deeper treads than their P-metric counterparts. Their “heavier” construction also makes them superior for hauling heavy loads and navigating rough terrain.
Additionally, LT-metric tires often provide better handling when towing heavy equipment or supplies, which makes them a top choice for hardworking trucks and SUVs. Bridgestone’s Dueler and Firestone’s Destination are among the top names in the light truck tire game.
Should I use P-metric or LT-metric tires?
Many lightweight pickups, vans, and SUVs come from the factory with P-metric tires, which means they are designed for paved roadways and standard load sizes. These tires won’t do much if you plan on doing heavy-duty work with your light-duty truck. But before you switch your P-metric tires to LT-metric tires instead, check out how they stack up.
While LT-metric tires do well off-road, they aren’t suited for standard driving conditions. Their rolling resistance and heavy-duty construction can significantly increase fuel costs. And if you do a lot of highway driving, the resulting tread wear on your heavy-duty tires could cost you heavy-duty money. Plus, you could notice that your ride becomes noisier or rougher after replacing your P-metric tires with light truck tires.
On the other hand, if you haul heavy loads or drive on a lot of off-road terrains, putting P-metric tires on your light truck can be downright dangerous! Since these tires aren’t equipped to handle rough off-road conditions, you could damage the tire and dramatically shorten its lifespan. Additionally, the lack of support you get from the tire could allow those rough conditions to wreak havoc on your suspension!
Get the right tires for your vehicle.
When determining what kind of tire your vehicle needs, evaluate which driving environment you spend most of your time in. But if you’re still unsure whether you need light truck or passenger tires, come in to a Firestone Complete Auto Care near you. Our professionals can recommend tires that best suit your vehicle and your driving habits to get you back on the road where you belong!