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Do you know what XL tires mean? As a car owner, it’s important to be up to date on the lingo of various features, so that you can improve the longevity of your vehicle’s performance.

Nothing beats the feeling of slipping into the driver’s seat of your new vehicle and taking a deep inhale, embracing the new car smell. While the novelty of driving a new car is incomparable, all car owners will tell you that it comes with a large responsibility.

From annual services and changing the oil to making sure that you select the right tires, it’s important to brush up on automotive lingo to better understand the maintenance of your asset.

With this in mind, XL tires refer to Extra Load, meaning that the tire can use higher air pressure to support more weight (when compared to a standard tire of the same size).

What Is the Load Index?

When choosing tires, there are a few main points to consider, namely tire dimensions, speed rating, and the load index. Each tire will have a designated load index which indicates the load-carrying capacity of the tire.

The load index refers to the amount of weight that the tire can support (in pounds or kilograms). It’s required that each tire must be able to support a load that is equal or superior to half of the weight carried on the axle that it is mounted on.

As an example, a load index of 92 can support 630 kilograms at maximum air pressure.

Where to Find the Load Index on a Tire

A closer look at a tire’s sidewall will reveal several markings. The information includes the following;

  • Wheel size
  • Width of the tread
  • Height of the sidewall
  • Load index

The load index information will be the final figure that appears after the size dimensions. For example, the information may appear as 225/55 R19 99 H. In this instance, 99 refers to the load index.

What Are XL Tires?

Car owners have the choice of Standard Load (SL) or Extra Load (XL) tires. Both tires are the same size. The difference comes in the weight of cargo that the tire can carry safely. The XL tire is able to carry a heavier load without compromising safety.

As an example, an SL tire with a load rating of 91 can carry 615 kilograms. An XL tire, of the same size, could have a load index of 94, meaning that it can carry 670 kilograms.

The Extra Load is made possible by a unique, reinforced design that makes the tire more robust. The design includes a single layer of rubberized cord fabric in the construction.

There are several reasons that cars use XL tires instead of SL tires. While it’s possible to fit an everyday vehicle, such as an SUV, with XL tires, they are most commonly used for vehicles that carry heavier loads, such as tractors, buses and lorries.

Frequently taking the vehicle off-road is another valid reason to fit XL tires, as they last longer and offer better grip.

Advantages of XL Tires

There isn’t a major performance difference between XL and SL tires, but there are other unique advantages that make XL tires worth it.

Consider the following as a starting point.

  • Longer lasting when driving under the same conditions
  • Better rigidity means improved protection against external damage
  • Less internal damage under intensive usage
  • Reduce the risk of accidental curb damage
  • Ability to carry a heavier load
  • Great for off-road driving
  • Better traction and adhesion properties

Disadvantages of XL Tires

While these advantages are useful, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when fitting XL tires.

  • Driving with XL tires can lead to an uncomfortable driving experience due to increased noise
  • XL tires cause higher fuel consumption due to rolling resistance and reinforcement

An Extension of XL Tires

The labelling of XL tires may differ depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers label their tires as Reinforced (RF or RFD). Some even label the tires as Extra Load with the abbreviation (EL).

Important Considerations of XL Tires

XL tires can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s important to make sure that you use them appropriately. One of the most important things to do is check your car’s user manual to make sure that you fit your vehicle with the correct tires.

The user manual will most likely indicate the make and type of tire that was fitted on the car when it first left the factory. When changing tires, it’s worth considering these original specifications. Failure to fit a car with the correct load index can lead to safety implications.

Keep in mind that Extra Load doesn’t mean that you can automatically increase the load carried by the car. Instead, Extra Load refers to the weight of the vehicle that the tire needs to support. As cars get heavier, you may need to swap out your tires (or adjust the air pressure).

Finally, you need to regularly check the tire pressure of XL tires. They are specifically designed to carry extra air pressure to support the heavier load, therefore the pressure needs to be maintained. The load capacity of an XL tire decreases with decreasing air pressure.

Beyond the XL Tire

If you frequently travel with heavy cargo, then XL tires are essential. However, if you carry extra-heavy cargo, then you’ll need something more. XL tires may be able to support heavier weight than SL tires, but there are better-suited tires available if needed.

  • C tires (Commercial or Cargo Tires) for delivery vehicles that drive at lower speeds
  • CP tires (Camping Tire) for motorhomes and camper vans
  • LT tires (Light Truck Tire) for light lorries, transporters, etc.

Essentially, it’s a good idea to buy reinforced tires if you travel with a significant load, improving the lifetime of your tires. If you have a vehicle with a powerful engine, then XL-rated tires offer greater stability, especially when turning corners, and improved reaction when travelling at a higher speed.

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