What's the difference between XL (extra load) and van tyres?

By Julia Freeman

At first glance, it could be tempting to assume that there is no difference between XL and van tyres, as both are designed to carry heavier loads. However, our tyre professionals confirm that there's a significant difference: XL tyres are not suitable for most vans. We will explain in more detail why this is and what each type of tyre is best suited for below.

wheel on a car

What are XL tyres?

The XL on these tyres stands for Extra Load and indicates an increased capacity to handle the pressure created by a heavier load. They are intended for passenger cars, however, rather than vans and vehicles that routinely carry significant loads. They are typically used for larger or high performance passenger cars such as premium saloons, SUVs and 4x4s to deal with the additional load carrying capacity of these vehicles as well as the additional weight of the car itself.

XL tyres, which are available from all the major brands, such as Pirelli and Bridgestone, come with a range of benefits. They can offer greater stability and cornering responsivity when carrying loads beyond those that smaller, compact cars could deal with. They also increase the performance of sports cars, as the increased rigidity and longer-lasting compounds provide greater traction and increased transfer of energy from the wheels to the road. Although they are a little noisier than other passenger car tyres, they keep this issue to a minimum when compared with van tyres.

What are van tyres?

These have a significantly higher load bearing capacity when compared with XL tyres. In our experience, the advice for van owners from our qualified fitters is never to try and make do with XL tyres and always use the correct van tyres for your vehicle. This is because the tyres for vans are designed with a far greater level of rigidity and strength which has been tested and optimised to take the pressure from loads these working vehicles can expect to deal with.

Not only this, but van tyres are also equipped for the demands of regular use and rough working. Many come with reinforced sidewalls that protect from kerb damage as well as using robust compounds that can handle the bumps, scrapes and scratches that are inevitable from rigorous urban driving. These increases in strength mean that, for safety reasons, our tyre professionals would never fit anything other than the correct van tyres for fleet vehicles as they have the durability and rigidity to handle the tasks expected of them. This being said, there are still a range of different van tyres available that are adapted to a variety of driving conditions, weathers, and uses.

How do I know what I need?

Knowing your vehicle and how you intend to use it is the first step. As we have emphasised above, only van tyres are suitable for the heavy loads and more rigorous demands placed on these vehicles. XL tyres are great for larger passenger cars such as SUVs and 4x4s but won't cut it for vans.

However, there are a range of choices within these two broad categories with different variations and specifications made by a range of brands such as Pirelli, Falken, Sumitomo and Bridgestone. Amongst XL tyres, there will be some that prioritise wet or winter weather conditions and others that are optimised for the sporty, high-performance driving discussed previously. For van tyres, there are various seasonal applications as well as eco-conscious options that may optimise fuel efficiency and use sustainable materials. It all depends on the needs of your driving and business, as well as the values you embody as a company and wish to see reflected in your fleet.

Years of experience tell us that nothing can substitute for expert advice. At Protyre, we offer free vehicle checks that give you the opportunity to discuss with our qualified fitters the range of options available and to receive a set of unbiased suggestions based on your driving needs. This way, you can choose the tyre that will help you get the most from your car or van. Why not book today, either online through our simple booking form or over the phone where you can speak with our tyre professionals and book into one of our nationwide collection of local garages.

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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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