If you have a semi-truck or are thinking of becoming a driver-owner, you need to know how much your operating expenses will be, and that’s a lot more than just rest stop fees.
As most people know, bigger trucks need bigger and more expensive tires.
So, how much does a semi-truck tire cost?
How Much Does a Semi-Truck Tire Cost?
The average price for a semi-truck tire is $500 a piece, but very cheap semi-truck tires are available for as low as $150 per tire. It’s vital to consider tire quality and safety when you’re looking at cheap and discount tires, especially when doing commercial work on the roads.
If you take road safety as seriously as I do, you probably don’t want to be rolling on the freeway in a truck that weighs tens of thousands of pounds empty on tires that might not be high quality and reliable.
Let’s look at the cost of semi-truck tires and how to choose the best tires for your budget.
Types of Semi-Truck Tires
Semi-truck tires are rated similarly to car and light truck tires. Tire ratings reflect the load index scale that assigns a number based on the allowable weight load per tire.
A tire with a rating of 70 is common on cars and small trucks. A 70 rating is for 739 pounds per tire.
The biggest and most heavy-duty tires have a rating of 150. Each tire rated 150 can handle 7,385 pounds.
Tires are also rated for speed. This scale ranges from L, which has a maximum speed of 75 mph, to Y, for high-speed cars that can travel at or about 186 mph.
Reading the sidewall, you can learn everything you need to know about a tire. Semi-truck tires commonly have a size close to 275/70R22.5.
What the Numbers on a Tire Sidewall Mean
You can break down the numbers on any tire’s sidewall if you know what each section means.
The first number always refers to the tire width. A semi-truck tire with 275/70R22.5 on the sidewall is 275 mm wide.
The next number is the aspect ratio, which on this tire is 70.
This ratio means that the tire’s sidewall height is 70% of its width.
The letter R stands for radial, telling you it’s a radial tire. Finally, the 22.5 is the diameter in inches. This number tells you the diameter of the tire you need to buy.
The letter on the right that follows the diameter number is the tire’s speed rating.
The Cost of Semi-Truck Tires
A semi-truck with 18 wheels requires a huge investment to replace the tires. Some trucks have ten tires, and some have as many as 36.
Tires for those trucks usually need to be replaced in pairs to keep the sides and the ride even.
Let’s use an 18-wheeler as an example. Replacing all the tires simultaneously at the average cost of $500 per tire would cost $9,000.
You don’t necessarily have to replace all tires at the same time, but you can.
All tires having the same amount of wear is the safest way to run a semi-truck.
Some tires can cost over $1,000 or more, so that would be at least $18,000 for the tires. The cost of labor to replace them can add up too.
If you went the bargain route and paid only $150 for each tire, the cost would only be $2,700, or less than one-third the cost.
But do you want to be in a semi-truck with cheap tires? Safety and peace of mind are worth a lot more than money.
What to Look for in Semi-Truck Tires
The vital question is, “how much does a semi-truck tire cost?” Don’t forget to ask yourself, “how do I buy a quality semi-truck tire?”
When buying a semi-truck tire, the process is similar to when you’re shopping for car tires. You look for quality and durability instead of the lowest price if you want a safe and comfortable ride.
Look for these things to get quality semi-truck tires:
- On the sidewall near the rim, look for a DOT code. This code shows the tire is a US product and not a cheap imported imitation.
- Buy a recognizable brand name.
- If you want a more comfortable ride for a little less fuel efficiency and durability, get tires that are softer when you replace them.
- If you travel in regions with extreme weather, softer tires expand and contract easier in those conditions and will wear less.
- Look for a good 4-7 year warranty, at minimum.
Keep Semi-Truck Tires in Good Shape
Follow some simple practices to keep your tires working at top efficiency while preventing a dangerous tire blowout.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Underinflation is the top cause of worn tires. Therefore, ensure that semi-truck tires reach the proper PSI for safer traveling and longer-lasting tires.
Watch the Tread Depth
Legally, if the tread depth of semi-truck tires gets below 4/32 of an inch on steer tires or 2/32 of an inch on the trailer and drive tires, they need to be replaced. Even one groove more worn than that causes problems.
Stick to a Rotation Schedule
There’s no magic time to rotate tires, so pick a time and stick to it to ensure your tires are rotated and wearing evenly. Uneven treads can cause big problems.
Worn tires will be slightly smaller than those with less wear. This situation can strain the axle and drivetrain and wear other tires even more unevenly, leading to earlier and expensive tire replacements.
Buy Quality Tires
If you start with cheap tires, they won’t last as long and could wear thin and risk a blowout before you expect problems.
Watch Your Speed and Weight
Never go over the speed rating on your tires or the weight limit. Either situation can strain tires enough to cause a blowout.
When to Replace Semi-Truck Tires
Replace semi-truck tires before problems start.
A good rule of thumb for when to replace semi-truck tires is after six years unless the tread wears enough before that to warrant replacement.
How Much Does a Semi-Truck Tire Cost to Retread?
Many commercial drivers and fleet owners save money every year by having tires retreaded instead of buying new each time they need to replace tires.
The tire is heated and reshaped like in a new tire molding process. Only tires with solid casings are candidates for retreading.
Many large vehicles use retreaded tires regularly like fire trucks, airplane wheels, and even school buses.
The cost of retreading a tire is somewhere between one-third and one-half the price of replacing the tire. You can usually retread tires twice before they need to be recycled and replaced.
Retreading a $500 tire will cost about $165 to $250.
To decide whether retreading is an option for you, remember that retreaded tires can wear faster than new ones. If you retread frequently, you might spend more than if you buy new tires every six years.
So, How Much Does a Semi-Truck Tire Cost?
The average price of a semi-truck tire is about $500, but you can get cheaper tires or pay more for even higher quality.
The cost of retreading a tire is about $165-$250 but won’t last as long as a new tire.
I hope you found this information helpful when comparing the options for getting new tires on your semi-truck.