Wherel & Tire Maintenance

Tire PSI, Rotation Intervals & Tread Life More

(Truck & SUV Edition)

Wheels and Tires In Austin TX - Fuel Offroad

Proper tire maintenance is critical for both safety and maximizing the life of your tires. This guide is intended to help teach you the basics of determining your ideal PSI (both on highway and off-roading), tire rotation patterns and proper torque for your lug nuts. Have questions? Need advice? Click Request-A-Quote to have one of our automotive customization experts contact you to help guide you through this process.

Contents of this Guide

Click a topic from the list below to skip ahead to a particular section.

  • Tire Pressure
  • Tire Rotation
  • Tightening Lug Nuts
  • When To Replace Your Tires

Tire Pressure

Importance of Proper PSI

Under inflated tires increase the risk of excessive heat and friction, especially when covering long distances on the highway. This can lead to separation of the tire from the wheel. Excessive wear of the outer edges of the tire will also occur.

Over inflated tires increase the risk of a blowout. Excessive wear on the center of the tire will also occur.

Properly inflated tires will evenly grip the road, maximizing traction and wearing evenly, ensuring you get the most life out of your tires.

Proper Tire Inflation PSI Under Inflation Over Inflation

OE Tire and Loading Information

There is often debate over the proper tire pressure for off-road tires. Your truck or SUV likely came factory-equipped with standard highway tires. Upgrading to mud, hybrid or all-terrain tires may change your ideal PSI. Your vehicle will have some variation of the Tire and Loading Information plate shown below (check the driver-side door frame or glove box). While this is a good starting point for determine your ideal PSI, this is not necessarily optimal for your new off-road tires as they are likely not the same size or construction as your OE tires.

F-150 Tire and Loading Information Plate

PSI for Highway Driving & Offroading

Before we discuss PSI, it is important to note that PSI should be measured "cold." This means the PSI is measured before the tires have run a mile. Likewise, tires should be inflated cold. This is because tires will heat up when driven. Heat will cause tire pressure to increase - thus if you were to air up your tires shortly after driving, you will likely under inflate your tires as the PSI will seem high when airing up the tire, but then drop considerably once the vehicle is parked for a period of time.

PSI for Highway Driving
Most off-road/4x4 shops will recommend somewhere around 45 PSI for larger, hybrid (mud/all-terrain) tires while highway driving. The trick is to find the PSI that allows the tires to grip the road evenly and ultimately provides the most even wear. While your new tires will come with a maximum load and PSI printed on them, this is not necessarily the PSI you should be using - this is the maximum PSI at the maximum load. The PSI calculator below is a good starting point to help determine your ideal PSI. When in doubt, consult an expert such as your local off-road/4x4 shop.

PSI for Off-Roading
If off-roading, many drivers will prefer to air-down their tires. This maximizes traction, improves ride quality and reduces the risk of tire punctures - but should only be done when driving at very low speeds and off highways. To begin, most drivers reduce their tire pressure by at least 25% from their highway PSI. Often times this is just a starting point. If rock crawling or traversing especially difficult terrain, you may need to decrease your PSI even further. You can reasonably deflate most tires down to around 20 PSI. Some drivers may deflate to even lower PSIs, but be cautious - the lower the tire pressure, the higher the risk of the tire being stripped off the wheel. If airing down for off-roading activities, always air back up before returning to the highway! Again, the PSI calculator below is a good starting point to help determine your ideal PSI. When in doubt, consult an expert such as your local off-road/4x4 shop.

PSI Calculator

Disclaimer: This calculator was developed based upon a formula provided by Motor Trend. This formula is not an absolute rule, but rather a recommendation that has been found to work well for most combinations of vehicles and tires. Never exceed the maximum tire load or PSI prescribed for your tire.

NOTE: This calculator was built for SRW vehicles only. Calculations for DRW (dually) vehicles will vary. See the  Motor Trend for more information on the calculations.

Example PSI Chart

This chart assumes the use of a Nitto Ridge Grappler tire, in the following 3 sizes.

  • 33x12.50R20, which has a maximum load of 3,000 lbs @ 80 PSI*
  • 35x12.50R20, which has a maximum load of 3,640 lbs @ 80 PSI*
  • 37x12.50R20, which has a maximum load of 3,750 lbs @ 65 PSI*

* NOTE: Different tire brands, models and sizes (including diameter, width and rim size) will have considerably different maximum loads and maximum PSIs, and thus very different recommended PSIs. Always consult your tire manufacturer's website to determine the maximum load rating for your exact tire before calculating the recommended PSI for your tire.

**NOTE: For simplicity, this chart assumes an equal weight distribution at each axle. If not towing/hauling, the front axle of the truck will typically carry more weight than the rear axle due to the weight of the engine. If towing/hauling, the rear may carry more weight than the front. This chart considers the average curb weight of each YMM (including full tank of fuel), plus 1,000 lbs of persons/cargo, equally distributed among each axle. Your calculations may vary depending upon your sub-model/trim package and other specifications. This is only a sample table. Your vehicle weight, tire specifications and desired ride quality should ultimately determine your ideal PSI .

YMMEst. Curb Weight Range**Est. Weight At Axle**
Highway PSI*
NRG 33x12.50R20
Highway PSI*
NRG 35x12.50R20
Highway PSI*
NRG 37x12.50R20
2023 F-150
4,021 - 5,740 lbs2,940 lbs473931
2023 F-250
5,677 - 7,538 lbs3,803 lbs615040
2023 GM 15004,400 - 5,620 lbs3,005 lbs484031
2023 GM 25006,105 - 6,950 lbs3,763 lbs605039
2023 RAM 1500
4,765 - 6,440 lbs3,301 lbs534434
2023 RAM 25006,001 - 7,281 lbs3,820 lbs615040
2023 Wrangler JL3,948 - 5,098 lbs2,761 lbs443629
2023 Gladiator JT4,650 - 5,050 lbs2,925 lbs473930
2023 4Runner4,400 - 4,805 lbs2,801 lbs453729
2023 Tacoma3,915 - 4,550 lbs2,616 lbs423427
2023 Tundra5,095 - 5,800 lbs3,223 lbs524334

Tire Rotation

A good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every time you change your oil, so roughly every 5,000-10,000 miles (at a minimum). This will help ensure your tires wear evenly and maximize the life of your tires.

When rotating tires, it is best to follow the same pattern each time. Here are our recommended tire rotation patterns for each tire configuration.

Tightening Lug Nuts

When tightening your lug nuts, it is critical to use the proper torque and the proper technique.

Torque

Under tightening your lug nuts could result in a wheel becoming loose, causing severe shaking or even loss of the wheel. Over torquing your lug nuts could damage the wheel stud, making the lug nuts difficult to remove or even requiring the replacement of the studs. Normal torque for lug nuts is between 75 to 100 foot-pounds (lb-ft). The exact number is based upon your lug size and should be indicated in your vehicle's owner manual. Use the chart below as a quick reference, but ultimately refer to the manufactuer's guidance for your particular YMM.

Lug SizeUsual Torque Range
(ft-lbs)
Minimum Turns For
Proper Thread Engagement
M12x1.2570-808
M12x1.5070-806.5
M14x1.2585-909
M14x1.5085-907.5
1/2-2075-858

Technique

To ensure the wheel's center bore is properly seated and centered on the hub, you must always follow a star pattern when tightening your lug nuts. You will first hand tighten the lug nuts using a wrench, then use a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to the appropriate torque. Do not use an impact wrench to tighten lug nuts as there is no way of ensuring proper torque.

Wheel Lug Nut Tightening Patterns

Re-Torquing Your Lug Nuts

Within 50-100 miles after installing or rotating your wheels, you should perform a re-torque. Your lugs will settle under the weight of the vehicle, especially when driving over pot holes and rough surfaces. Re-torquing your lug nuts prevents any road vibrations from loosening your lug nuts (and ultimately loosing your wheel).

When To Replace Your Tires

Tread Depth

Per the U.S. Department of Transportation, tires should be replaced when the the tread of any portion of the tires reaches to 2/32" (1/16") of tread depth. Many states have codified this into law. It is important to note that this is the minimum tread depth. For increased safety, you should consider replacing tires when they reach 4/32" of tread depth. The chart below demonstrates the importance of tread depth in terms of stopping distance.

One simple method of determining tread depth is the penny test. Place a penny, head down, into the groves along the tread. If the thread does not cover the tip of Lincoln's head, the tire has reached the end of its tread life. See the diagram below for more details.  

Tire wear indication bars are another quick method of determining your remaining tread lift. Horizontal bars are built into the tires  (running perpendicular to the tread). When the tread wears down to the point that it is even with the wear indicator bars, the tires must be replaced.

Of course, this method is only an approximation. For the most accurate reading use a tread depth indicator or stop by your local offroad/4x4 shop.

Penny Test

Tire Wear Indicator Bar

Tread Gauge

Other Indications

Aside from tread depth, the following factors indicate that a tire must be replaced:

  • Sidewall punctures or other damage (sidewall punctures cannot be patched)
  • Bulges or bubbles
  • Tires that can't be properly balanced (If you native that your vehicle shakes at high speeds, your tire(s) may be improperly balanced. Your local tire shop should be able to re-balance your tires. Tires that can't be balanced may be considered "out-of-round")

NOTE: Bent wheels should also be quickly repaired or replaced. Improperly shaped wheels may lead to tire separation. This may occur if a wheel is severely curbed or if your vehicle hits a large object/pothole at a high rate of speed, especially if your tire size is relatively small compared to your wheel size (minimal sidewall).

Replacing Only 2 Tires

When replacing only 2 tires, the new tires should be installed on the rear axle, not the front. This is true for rear wheel drive, front wheel drive and 4 wheel drive vehicles.

The rear tires maintain stability for the entire vehicle. The greater the wear of the rear tires. the less the tires are able to grip the road, especially when road conditions are wet. This loss of traction may cause the vehicle to hydroplane.

Trident Motorsports is proud to offer complimentary tire rotations and inspections for all tires purchased and installed here.

Wheels & tires can be complicated. Mistakes can be costly. We highly recommend consulting an expert before purchasing or installing wheels & tires.

Live in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, Lago Vista, Marble Falls or surrounding areas? We're happy to answer any questions and provide a quote. Request-A-Quote below to have one of our Automotive Customization Experts contact you.