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Tire Load Index and Why It Matters (Chart)

By Tire Agent Staff

November 10, 2023


Welcome to our guide on tire load indexes, a vital but often overlooked aspect of tires. You've come to the right place if you're looking for a clear and concise explanation of what load indexes are and why they matter.

We'll also unravel the mystery behind their numeric codes and help you make informed decisions when it comes to your vehicle's tires. So, let's plunge into the world of load indexes and explain their importance to safety and performance.

Tire Load Index Explained

The load index is essentially a rating that quantifies a tire's capacity to bear weight. The concept is pretty straightforward. The higher the load-carrying capacity of a tire, the higher its load index number.

This number can be found right next to the tire size, and it's usually represented as a combination of numbers and letters, such as 94 H. In this example, 94 is the load index and H represents the speed rating. Click here for an in-depth look at speed ratings. Now, let's dive into what the numbers mean.

Deciphering load index numbers

Load indexes are typically expressed as numbers that range from 0 to 150, although passenger vehicle load indexes start around 88. The higher the number, the greater the load-carrying capability of the tire. It's a simple and effective way to compare tires and make informed decisions.

      • A higher load index represents a boost in capacity: If you come across a tire with a load index greater than your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tire, it signifies an increase in load capacity. This is important when you need to carry heavier loads or just want a more robust tire for added safety and durability.
      • An identical load capacity: A tire with the same load index as the OEM tire has an identical load capacity. So, if your vehicle's original tires were designed to handle a specific weight, sticking with the same load index ensures that you maintain the intended load-carrying capabilities.
      • Lower load index — A cautionary sign: Conversely, if you opt for a tire with a lower load index than the OEM tire, it's a red flag. This indicates that the tire is not on par with the original load capacity specifications. Such a choice can compromise your safety and the overall performance of your vehicle.

Matching load indexes for replacement

When it's time to replace your tires, follow this fundamental rule: Never go lower on the load index. For example, if your current load index is 103, a tire with a load index of 112 that matches the size would be a suitable replacement.

However, opting for a tire with a load index of 94 would be a mistake. Using a tire with a lower load index can lead to issues like bubbling and, in the worst-case scenario, a blowout, endangering your safety and the longevity of your tires.

Tire Load Index and Speed Rating Charts undefined

Downloads: We've prepared two downloadable versions of the tire load index and speed rating chart. The abridge version is easier to download, print and view on mobile devices; the full version is ideal for desktop viewing.  

Why Does Tire Load Rating Matter?

Tire load ratings matter because they determine a tire's capacity to support the weight of your vehicle and any additional load. Choosing the proper load rating is essential for safety, optimal performance and longevity of your tires. Overloading tires with a lower load rating can lead to numerous issues, including reduced traction, increased wear and the risk of tire failure.

On the flip side, using tires with a higher load rating than necessary can affect ride comfort and fuel efficiency. Selecting the correct load rating ensures that your tires can handle the expected weight and keeps you safe.

RELATED: Where to find your vehicle's load ratings, speed index, and tire sizes

What is the load rating range for light truck tires?

The load rating range for light truck tires typically starts around 100 and can go up to 126 or higher. Light truck tires are designed to carry varying loads, and the specific load rating you need depends on your vehicle's weight and intended use.

It's important to refer to your vehicle's manufacturer recommendations or consult the tire manufacturer to determine the appropriate load rating for your specific light truck tires to ensure safety and performance.

What is the load rating range for commercial truck tires? 

The load rating range for commercial truck tires is significantly broader than that of light truck tires. Commercial truck tires are built to handle heavy loads and can have load ratings starting around 120 and going well beyond 150. The exact range can vary depending on the tire's design and purpose.

Commercial truck tires are specifically engineered to meet the demands of heavy-duty applications, and their load ratings are designed to support the substantial weight typically associated with commercial vehicles. As with any tire, consult a tire expert or follow the recommendations of your commercial vehicle manufacturer to choose the correct load rating for your specific needs.

Load Range vs Load Index

So, what's the difference between load range and load index? Simple. Load range deals with the tire's inflation pressure capabilities, while load index focuses on the tire's ability to bear weight. Both are important factors in selecting the right tire for your vehicle and its intended use. Here's a quick breakdown.

Load range:

      • Load range refers to the tire's ability to handle different inflation pressures and load capacities.
      • It's usually indicated by letters like "C," "D" or "E" on the tire sidewall.
      • A higher load range indicates a tire that can support heavier loads at higher inflation pressures.

Load index:

      • The load index is a numerical value that specifies the tire's load-carrying capacity.
      • It is represented as a number, such as 94, and can be found on the tire sidewall.
      • A higher load index signifies a greater load-carrying capacity for a specific tire size.

What does GVWR mean?

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is a specification that defines the maximum weight that a vehicle is rated to safely carry, including its own weight and any passengers, cargo and other loads. It represents the upper limit imposed by the vehicle's manufacturer on the total weight it can handle without compromising safety.

GVWR is essential for ensuring a vehicle doesn't become overloaded, which can lead to safety and performance issues. To maintain safety and compliance, it's vital to adhere to the GVWR and avoid exceeding it.

The GVWR is typically found on a label inside the driver's door frame, in the owner's manual or on the vehicle's documentation. It is a key reference point for vehicle owners and operators to prevent overloading and ensure safe operation.

Illustration 177944590 © Siarhei Samakhavets |