Cracking the codes

by Frank Condron

DON MILLS, Ont. – To look at a truck tire spec’ing guide, you might think that whoever comes up with the codes for the various models must have had something to do with writing codes during WW II.

Unlike car tires, which often go by catchy descriptive names like Tiger Paw and Wilderness, truck tires usually wear handles like S380A, XDA2 or RY112. Fortunately, as long as you know what you want the tire to do, where you plan to go and what kind of performance you need to get out of it, a good tire dealer will be able to help you past all the X’s and O’s to the right model.

Still, it can’t hurt to learn a bit about the subject before you head to your tire dealer. The following is a brief look at what some of the big tire and retread manufacturers have to offer and what some of those numbers all mean:


Goodyear recently came out with a brand new, top-of-the-line steer tire for long-haul applications labeled the G397LHS. The G397 takes over for the G357 and offers about five to ten per cent better performance, according to Rob Pipe, Goodyear Canada’s manager of regional fleet sales.

“The same goes for drive tires,” Pipe says. “The G372 LHD took over for the 362. They are both designed for high mileage tandems, but the 372 just offers a little more performance.”

Also in the long-haul drive tire category, Goodyear offers the G328, which delivers a little more traction at the cost of a little less mileage, and the G302FED, which is known as the “Fuel Mizer.”

“The 302 has a shallower tread, so you do suffer on some traction, and it’s not the tire to use way up north” explains Pipe.

Also included in Goodyear’s long-haul drive tire category are the G124 and G167, which are both also recommended for local delivery and regional haul applications.

For long-haul trailers, Goodyear recommends the G314 or the G159APR (for all-position radial). Pipe says the 314 is ideal for tandem-tandem configurations while the 159 has a deeper tread depth for more rugged applications. “But deeper is not always better in the trailer position because you get lots of scalping wear,” he explains.

For on/off road applications, the G244MSD, G17855, G177 and G286 are all designed for mixed service. The G143 and G175 however, are strictly for use in cold, snowy conditions.

“We recommend that you only run snows in winter because they are compounded for the cold,” Pipe says. “If they hit hot pavement, you will just burn them up.”

Goodyear also offers many of its models as retreads.


When it comes to tires, Ralph Beaveridge, marketing manager for Michelin/BF Goodrich Canada, says the most important thing for the small fleet manager or owner/operator is being diligent about tracking things like mileage, fuel economy and reliability.

“Everybody wants all of those things, but in what order?” Beaveridge asks.

For example, he says someone looking for more fuel economy would want a drive tire with the lowest rolling resistance. For Michelin, that would be the XDA2, or BF Goodrich’s DR434. However, if many of the customer’s miles were racked up during the Canadian winter, they might want to forfeit some fuel economy for more traction. In that case, says Beaveridge, they might want to opt for the XDHT.

The DR434 is BFG’s drive tire of choice for all on-road applications, but it recommends both the ST234 and ST230 in the steer position.

Beaveridge says the range of choices for trailer tires is usually narrower because people tend to be leery about investing a lot of money in their trailer tires.

“Trailers often get left in yards overnight, or even for days at a stretch, and tires have a habit of disappearing,” he says.

For linehaul applications, Beaveridge says owner/operators would typically choose a Michelin XZE or an XT-1 in the trailer position. The XT-1 is the high mileage tire, due to its low tread depth.

The XZE, on the other hand, offers a full tread that attempts to

strike a balance between rolling resistance and traction. BFG mirrors these models with its TR134 and ST220 .

For off-road applications, BFG stocks the ST 565 (all positions) and DR665 (drive). Michelin, meanwhile, has a slightly wider range of severe service choices. It offers two steer tires, the XZY and XZY-2, and two drive tires, the XDY-2 and the XDE A/T.

“The XZY-2 is for nasty hauling, very abusive applications.” Beaveridge adds.

Again, Michelin also has many models available as retreads.


Firestone recommends just one model in each of the steer, drive/lug, trailer and all position categories for most on-road applications. Specifically, those models are the FS590T steer tire, the FD663 drive/lug tire, the F455 trailer tire and the all position FS567.

“Firestone introduced the 590 last year to broaden its offerings a little,” says Pete Krafchick, manager of commercial truck tire marketing for Bridgestone/Firestone “Bridgestone’s truck tire line is more comprehensive.”

While Bridgestone still lists only one steer tire for long-haul, the R227, it offers three drive/lug models – the M725, M726, and M711.

“The 711 and the 726 are two tires that cover many of the same applications,” says Krafchick. “While the 711 is more of a pure long-haul tire that delivers more miles, the 726 has a bit of a deeper tread depth for greater stability.

“The 725 is an open-shoulder tire that is more suited for the snowy conditions we get up in Canada.”

Similarly, the Bridgestone R196 and R194 trailer tires have similar tread designs but are better suited to slightly different applications, Krafchick says.

“The 196 has a deeper tread – 16/32nds compared to 12/32nds for the 194,” Krafchick explains. “So it is designed to handle more weight, say in a spread axle application. The 194 is strictly a normal van tire for a normal spread.”

In terms of on/off road applications, Bridgestone has four steer tire models to choose from – M843, M840, M844 and M857.

Krafchick says that these models share the same basic tread pattern, but vary in terms of tread depth.

In the drive/lug position, Michelin offers the L317, M774 and the L312. Again, says Krafchick, the difference is tread.

“Just looking at the tread pattern of the 774, you can see that it offers more traction for special applications like logging,” he says.


A glance at Yokohama’s truck tire offerings shows its naming system to be just as confusing to the lay-person as any other. However, Yokohama’s North American marketing manager Eric Williamson assures us that there is method to the madness.

“To give you an idea, in our system a tire model with the prefix TY is a highway tractor tire, while a tire with the prefix RY is a highway rib tire. And there are other prefixes as well,” Williamson explains.

Yokohama offers four steer tire models for long-haul applications (RY237, RY083, RY023 and Y7932), four more for the drive position (TY517, TY303C, SY190 and Y713) and two trailer models (RY112 and RY103).

“The difference between the various models is often in the tread pattern,” Williamson says. “The 517, for example, is a very high mileage tire used in linehaul applications. The SY190, on the other hand, is designed more for highway hauling in snowy or icy conditions.”

With the exception of an additional specialized model here and there, Yokohama basically recommends the above models for long-haul, regional-haul and local delivery applications.

For on/off road applications, Yokohama offers three steer tire models, MY507, Y773 and MY243, as well as two drive tire models, TY063 and LY053. Three of those models, MY507, Y773 and LY053, are also recommended for severe trailer applications. Adds Williamson “Obviously, off-road tires are going to be more expensive because they are more robust.”

Williamson says the TY063 is one of Yokohama’s most popular on/off road tires for severe service applications. He says it is commonly used by companies in
the logging and oil industries.”

Williamson says Yokohama is introducing a new tire this spring, the TY527, which will be its new top-of-the-line highway tire.


Of course, if you are in need of new rubber but want to get the most out of your cash flow, you can always go the retread route.

“Price is obviously the biggest incentive for retreading,” says Don Schauer, manager of fleet communications for Bandag Canada Ltd. “For about one-third to one-half the cost of new tires you can have treads that are as reliable and offer the same wear mileage.”

In the long-haul drive tire category, Bandag offers 15 different models, including the FuelTec, the Eclipse Mud & Snow, the Wide Base Lug and the Winter Deep. With names like that, it’s hard to go wrong when selecting a tread design.

“If you are driving on-road, long-haul, and maximum fuel economy is your sole concern, then the FuelTec would be your model. The FuelTec tread actually beats some new tires on fuel economy,” Schauer says. “But some fleets need long wear mileage as well. In that case, I would recommend the FCR Drive, because it’s still decent on fuel but gets better wear mileage than the FuelTec.

“Then you get a model like the Torquemaster Drive. That tread is designed for a guy who is going up the mountains a lot, maybe pulling doubles.” Along with its 15 drive tire tread models, Bandag also offers eight additional models for the trailer position.

On the on/off road side, Bandag offers eight drive and five trailer tire models. Like their on-highway cousins, the severe duty treads also tend to sport application-appropriate names like Lug Logger and Wide Base Lug. Schauer says all Bandag’s treads are designed with a very specific use in mind. “The Eclipse SST, for example, is for spread axle guys who have problems with tire scrubbing,” he explains.


Like Bandag, Oliver tread models also come with lots of descriptive names that make spec’ing a lot easier. With model names like Mega-Drive, Power-Tred-Deep and Alp Tracker, the customer can get a pretty good idea of what they ar going to get just by reading the spec’ing list.

As always, application is the key.

“A tread like the Alp-Tracker is used for wide-base, super-singles,” says Bob Dunn, Oliver’s treads division manager. “You would see it on redi-mix trucks and refuse haulers where they don’t run duels.

“The Alp-Miler is for much the same application, only it is for trucks that only operate in the summer and don’t require the extra traction.”

According to Dunn, the company’s various retread models are basically copies of new tire designs.

“I find that customers like to have a retread that is the same as a tread design that they had a good experience with,” he says. For example, explains Dunn, Oliver’s Mega-Drive tread closely resembles a Michelin tire design; Oliver’s HMT Radial and HMT Deep XT models are based on a Goodyear tire design; and the Orco 22, 26 and Traction treads are modeled after Bridgestone designs. In the long-haul, drive category, Oliver offers 17 different retread models, most of which are also recommended for regional-haul and local delivery applications. In trailer treads, Oliver has seven models for long-haul and nine for regional and local delivery applications. Dunn says the high cost of fuel is forcing more and more people to consider retreads: “If you’re not, you make too much money.” n

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