What Does XL Mean on Tyres?

By Mariana Saenzpardo

Some drivers have an encyclopedic knowledge of what all the numbers and letters on a tyre mean.


Some drivers have an encyclopaedic knowledge of what all the numbers and letters on a tyre mean. At the other extreme, some are surprised to find out that tyre markings mean anything at all. Most of us though, are somewhere in the middle - we know that they signify the tyre size, but we aren’t sure about the significance of some of the abbreviations.

It’s worth knowing what the letters indicate, because you can then use the handy Protyre quick search function below to find tyres that are exactly the right replacements for the ones you’ve got. But of all the terms on the tyre, XL is the one most likely to be misunderstood by drivers.

What are XL tyres?

XL is short for Extra Load. Confusingly though, it doesn’t refer to vehicles that are carrying a heavy load. So it’s not related to the horsebox and pony you’re towing. The XL refers to the weight of the car itself.
Standard tyres of various sizes have recommended vehicle weights that they can carry. These tyres are marked SL. XL tyres by contrast, tend to be fitted on high end family saloons, performance cars, 4X4s, SUVs and so on - because these vehicles tend to be heavier.

They are usually larger, they may be designed to carry more passengers, and they also have a more robust build - all of these factors add to the weight that the tyres must be capable of bearing.
The amount of load a tyre can carry is directly related to the pressure it runs at. XL tyres look the same as ordinary tyres - the difference is inside the tyre, in a construction that allows higher tyre pressures to be maintained and higher speeds to be achieved for a given weight ratio.

Are there other advantages of XL tyres?

When an XL tyre is run at the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, it will last longer. These tyres are considered to have greater grip and better traction. Because they are more rigid, they will corner better and maintain stability. They also transmit power from the engine to the road more quickly, which may be an important feature in performance cars. In addition, XL tyres can provide better resistance to the extra load from acceleration and braking, and the centrifugal force from cornering. On the other hand, these tyres are usually slightly noisier than standard load tyres.
The loading of a tyre can also be expressed as a numeric value - check your vehicle’s manual to see what loading index number you should be looking for and use that number to get the exact load rating on the Protyre site.

We stock a wide range of these reinforced tyres, from makers including Pirelli, Falken, Bridgestone and Sumitomo. Just enter your registration or tyre size in the tyre search boxes, and you’ll see a great selection at very keen prices.
It’s important to run these tyres at the correct pressure if you’re relying on XLs to cope with a heavy vehicle and demanding driving, so you should check the tyre pressure regularly.

Not sure whether you need new tyres? No problem!

Protyre offer customers the chance to get their tyres checked for FREE at every one of our garages. Book your vehicle in and let our trustworthy technicians provide you with unbiased advice on whether your tyres need replacing the best option to suit your vehicle.

Book a Free Tyre Check

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Mariana Saenzpardo
Mariana is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Protyre who is also responsible for the running of our Protyre website.
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