Are van tyres different to car tyres?

By Julia Freeman

Any vehicle designed to transport tools and goods should be fitted with reinforced tyres. All manufacturers recommend this, and insurance companies often insist upon it – which means that if you don’t have reinforced tyres and need to claim for whatever reason, it could be disallowed.

mercedes van

Heavy-duty tyres

Technically speaking, if you never load a small van with extra weight then you might ask why you need them. The reasoning is that someone will load up the van sooner or later, unaware that the tyres are unsafe for the load. The same reasoning applies to speed ratings: fitting low speed tyres to a high speed vehicle because you always drive slowly is unsafe in the long term. Insurers (and police) will take a dim view.
There is more than one type of heavy-duty tyre. Extra-load (XL) tyres are suitable for smaller vans, but larger commercial vehicles may require C-type or LT tyres. C-type tyres are suitable for commercial vehicles with loads of up to 3.5 tons. LT stands for “light truck” and are for small to medium lorries. Always consult your manual to see which class of tyre your vehicle requires. Never assume you can fit an ordinary XL tyre onto a large C-class van.
XL tyres are the same as those used on SUVs and minibuses. There is also a variant of the C-type called CP which is recommended for some types of camper van and RV.

Fitting XL tyres on cars

As a general rule, it is always safe to fit heavier duty or higher rated tyres onto smaller vehicles such as cars. In other words, you can fit XL “van” tyres onto an ordinary car if you want to, just as you can fit tyres with a higher speed rating than needed. In fact, years of experience tell us that there are often advantages in doing so. XL tyres tend to last longer and often provide better fuel efficiency. In the great majority of cases, they handle as nimbly and safely as standard tyres and maintain better control when you hit potholes or go off-road.
XL tyres have a reputation for being more expensive but that isn’t always true. Provided that the difference in price is small, XL tyres are usually worth the extra money. Other criticisms are that they are noisier and less comfortable. Again, years of experience tell us the difference is negligible and most drivers don’t notice anything detrimental.

Fitting C and LT tyres on cars

Fitting heavier van tyres on cars and small vans (assuming they fit) definitely isn’t recommended for two reasons.
First of all, C-type tyres may be designed to take a higher load, but they are also designed to travel at lower speeds. Most cars are driven too fast to drive on a C-type tyre, greatly increasing the risk of tyre failure.
Second, C and LT tyres are much heavier. All that extra weight will do nothing good for your engine or fuel efficiency.

Choosing XL tyres

Most tyre makers offer XL versions of their usual tyre ranges. Bridgestone make XL versions of the Bridgestone Turanza T005; Falken make an XL version of the excellent Falken Azenis FK510 and so forth. The specifications and prices are usually similar. Also check out the Sumitomo BC100, a great all-rounder, and the all-season Falken Euroall Season AS210.
When buying an XL tyre, you should always check the load index. On the tyre’s sidewall this information usually comes immediately after the size specification – for example, if the sidewall says 225/55R16 99W then the load index is 99. A set of 99 tyres can safely carry a load of up to 775 kilograms. Check your manual for the index you need.

Book with Protyre

You can buy van tyres online then have them fitted, usually same day, at your nearest Protyre garage. We have an excellent range of XL tyres. If you need tyres for a heavier commercial vehicle, please call our customer service desk.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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