Changing Tires On F-150s Can Bring Benefits & Drawbacks

Updated Aug 5, 2015

BWSNITTO102015_BS20716_27Switching to taller/wider tires or larger/smaller diameter rims affect ride and handling; new “Ride Guide” details how

Replacing tires is common for pickups used for commercial purposes, especially in the construction, mining and aggregate business where both miles and road surfaces take a big toll on tire life.

Along with new tires, a number of pickup owners upgrade the wheels.

What pickup owners may not realize is changing to a tire or tire/wheel combination different from OEM has a direct affect on road grip, ride comfort and overall handling.

According to a study the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) did using a 2013 F-150,  tire diameter and sidewall height is the key factor in how little – or how much – a change in tires and wheels make on all fronts.

The study, called the “WTC Ride Guide” and conducted by the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), is primarily for tire retailers.

But it provides great insights for work truck owners getting ready to buy new tires.

For example, changing from P265/70R18s to LT265/70R18s on the 2013 F-150 test truck reduces road grip, ride comfort and steering response according to the study.

WTC Ride Guide shows how different size tires affect an F-150s ride and handling.WTC Ride Guide shows how different size tires affect an F-150s ride and handling.

However, changing both tires and wheels from P265/70R17s to P275/55R20s diminishes ride comfort a small degree, but has negligible effect on either grip or steering.

Changing tire diameter and tread patterns from the OE tires also change driving dynamics.

The WTC Ride Guide is worth a look to learn the pros and cons when it comes to dumping those worn out treads for new ones.