Us vanners ask quite a lot from our tow rigs – and our trailers. As responsible vanners, we’re all well aware of the issues surrounding over-loading our setups. But more than just being responsible, we have a legal obligation to ensure that our vehicles and our trailers comply with all road rules and regulations.
What if I told you there’s a chance the tyres on your vehicle aren’t legal once you load your van on, chock up the vehicle and hit the road?
It’s scary because it’s true, and it all has to do with your tyre’s load index or load rating, which refers to its maximum carrying capacity.
On smaller tow vehicles with smaller-sized tyres, you might find that with everything loaded for that dream trip away, you’re pushing very close to the load limit of your tyres – or even exceeding it. That means your vehicle’s ability to react in an emergency situation, like when someone cuts you off or you hit a massive unexpected pothole, is severely reduced. In the worst case scenario of an accident, insurers can even refuse payouts if you haven’t got correctly load-rated tyres fitted to your vehicle or your van and it’s found that this contributed to the accident.
So how do you know what your tyres’ load rating is?
To find out the load rating of your tyres, look on their sidewalls just to the right of the diameter code.
You’ll see a number somewhere between 62 and 126. This refers to how much each tyre is rated to carry. 112, for instance, shows that each tyre is rated to 1120kg. Multiply that by four (as the load of the vehicle is spread across four wheels) and that means the tyres are legal on a vehicle that weighs up to 4,480kg. To see the full conversion table for load and speed ratings click here
It’s just as much an issue on van tyres. We typically run smaller diameter, smaller profile tyres on our vans, and scarily they can be rated right down the bottom end of the scale. If you’ve got a single axle van running tyres with as little as an 80 load rating, your entire van weight cannot exceed something around 900kg plus whatever the towball’s down load rating is.
It’s important to note that the load index rating represents the load carrying capacity of tyres inflated to their maximum PSI. The load carrying capacity reduces as tyre pressures are reduced.
It’s very easy to see how this can become a minefield, and we don’t blame you if your eyes glaze over trying to figure this out! But that’s why you should rely on the experts at Cooper Tires to help you out. There’s a Cooper dealer in your neck of the woods who’ll be more than happy to check over your tyres on your 4WD and your van, and advise you on the best path to proceed.
Visit the Cooper Tires website at www.coopertires.com.au/find-a-retailer or call on 1300 756 884 to get in touch with your nearest store – because your safety depends on it.
Click below to read more of Fred Wright's exclusive tyre tips.