SL vs XL Load Range Tires: Which One Is The Best For What?

Load range refers to the size and weight capacity of a tire. Load range SL (Standard Load) and XL (Extra Load) are designations that indicate the load-carrying capacity of a tire.

The main difference between SL and XL tires is the amount of load they can carry. XL tires have a higher load-carrying capacity than SL tires. This means that XL tires can safely carry heavier loads than SL tires.

In general, XL tires are used on vehicles that require additional load-carrying capacities, such as heavy-duty trucks, trailers, and buses. They have thicker sidewalls and a more robust construction to support the added weight.

SL tires, on the other hand, are used on passenger vehicles and light trucks. They have a lower load-carrying capacity and are designed for normal driving conditions.

Using the correct load range tire for your vehicle is important to ensure safe and proper performance. Using a tire with a lower load range than recommended can result in reduced handling and stability while using a tire with a higher load range can result in a harsh ride and reduced tire life.

When it comes to passenger vehicle tires, you can choose from three categories of tires. These are:

  1. Light load tires – marked on the tire as LL
  2. Standard load tires – marked on the tire as SL or nothing in some tire brands
  3. Extra load tires – marked on the tire as XL

Standard load and extra load are the most common tire ranges. In this article, we will discuss the SL vs XL Load Range Tires and the factors you should consider when choosing one of them.

sl vs xl load range

What Is Load Range?

Load range is a rating system used to indicate the maximum load-carrying capacity of a tire. The load range is typically indicated by a letter or letters that are molded into the sidewall of the tire. The higher the load range, the stronger the tire and the more weight it can carry.

The load range of a tire is important because it determines the maximum load that the tire can safely carry at a given inflation pressure. It is important to use tires with the correct load range for your vehicle to ensure that the tires can handle the weight of the vehicle and its cargo. If you use tires with a load range that is too low for your vehicle, the tires may fail or wear out prematurely.

What are Standard Load (SL) Tires?

Standard load tires are tires designed for everyday use in passenger vehicles. The tires lack reinforcement hence not suitable for carrying heavy loads. SL tires are the most common passenger vehicle tires. Below are some of the characteristics of SL tires:

Main features of Standard Load Range Tires

  1. Suitable for everyday driving in small cars.
  2. Have no added reinforcement during manufacturing
  3. You can find the mark “SL” on the outer side of the tire. However, some brands do not add this label. If you do not see a label, it’s a standard load tire.
  4. The tire pressure rating is 240kPa (35psi)
  5. Do not last as long as XL tires. 
  6. They are meant to carry something other than heavy loads.
  7. They are not as resistant to damage and hence not suitable for off-road driving.

What are Extra Load (XL) Tires?

Extra load tires are tires with a higher load capacity than standard load tires of a similar size. They are able to support a bigger load due to the reinforcements that are added during manufacturing.

Reinforcement such as stiffer sidewalls or bigger treads. Other characteristics of extra-load tires include:

Main features of Extra Load Range Tires

  1. The tire pressure rating is 280kPa (41psi).
  2. Suitable for heavier vehicles such as vans and SUVs.
  3. Look physically bigger and heavier with bigger treads.
  4. Last longer than standard load tires when used in a similar fashion
  5. They are more resistant to damage, especially in rough off-road conditions.
  6. Designed to carry heavy loads. 

SL vs XL Load Range Tires: Difference between Standard and Extra Load range tires

Tires/AspectsLoad Range SLLoad Range XL
Ply Rating44
Pressure Rating240kPa (35psi)280kPa (41psi)
CapacityLowHigh
Fuel ConsumptionFuel EfficientIncreased Fuel Consumption
HandlingSmooth Ride & Better HandlingBumpy Ride & Better Off-Road Performance
RideQuiet RideLoud Ride
Speed Rating:LowHigh
SafetyHigher risk of dilapidation with heavy loadsSafe to use
Tread PatternsSmaller Tread PatternsBigger and deeper Tread Patterns

SL and XL tire ranges differ in both design and use. Examples of differences are:

Ply Rating

Ply rating, also expressed as load range rating is the tire’s capacity to carry or tow heavy loads. Previously, ply rating was used to represent physical rubber or cotton layers used in tire construction.

Ply is expressed using the letters A to L. With tires rated B having 4-ply and those rated F having 12ply. Most passenger vehicles are 4-ply rated. It’s good to note that both SL and Xl tire ranges are 4-ply rated even though XL-rated tires can carry more load.

Capacity

Due to the extra reinforcements, XL tires have a higher load and towing capacity than SL tires. Load-carrying and high-capacity vehicles such as vans and SUVs will typically run on XL-range tires. In contrast, small passenger vehicles use SL range tires.

Fuel

Standard load range tires are the most fuel-efficient tires to run. Since less material is used in their manufacturing, they weigh less, meaning less load on the engine, which translates to improved fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, extra-load range tires are heavier. They will increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption due to the extra load on the engine. 

Ride comfort and handling

If you value a soft, smooth ride while cruising down the highway, the standard load tires’ lack of reinforcement means they are soft and comfy. This translates to a smoother ride and better handling.

On the other hand, the robust build of the extra load tires means a more bumpy ride on the road but better performance in off-road conditions or while carrying loads.

Noise

There is no conclusive evidence showing any of the tire ranges to be louder than the other. However, you can expect a quieter ride when using SL range tires than XL range tires. 

This is because the extra reinforcement and bigger treads in XL range tires can produce more noise, especially when driving over a rough surface. 

Speed Rating

 XL range tires are more suited for high-performance vehicles and high speeds. A high-performance engine puts much strain on the tires.

The reinforcements on the extra load range tires make them more capable of handling this power and high speeds than standard load tires. 

Safety

It is safe to run extra load tires in a vehicle rated for standard load tires. Running standard load tires on a car rated for extra load range tires can be unsafe and even render the vehicle unroadworthy in extreme cases. 

Standard load range tires have a higher risk of tire dilapidation in high-strain situations, such as when carrying heavy loads or running a high-performance engine. 

Treads

XL range tires have bigger and deeper tread patterns than Sl ranger tires. These bigger treads help with weight handling and better off-road performance.

Load Range and Ply Rating Chart

Load RangePly RatingMax Load Carrying Air Pressure
Standard Load (SL)4@ 36 PSI
Extra Load (XL)4@ 42 PSI
C16@ 50 PSI
C26@ 35 PSI
D18@ 65 PSI
D28@ 50 PSI
E110@ 80 PSI
E210@ 65 PSI
F112@ 95 PSI
G14@ 110 PSI

If you want to know the difference between SL and Load Range E check This Article Load Range SL Vs E.

Advantages And Disadvantage Of Using SL or XL Range Tires

Advantages of Using XL Tires

Some of the advantages of XL tires include the following:

  • They can safely carry more load compared to SL tires of that same size.
  • They last longer since they are built stronger
  • They can be used in place of SL range tires, whereas the opposite cannot happen.
  • Their rigidity ensures maximum traction and better handling in corners. 
  • Better resistance to damages such as hitting a curb. 

Disadvantages of Using XL Tires

  • Increased fuel consumption.
  • A less comfortable ride due to their rigidity
  • They are more expensive.
  • The extra weight may cause misalignment.
  • The bigger treads have poor handling in snow and rain due to the larger size.

Advantages of Using SL Tires

Cost:

SL tires generally cost less than XL tires due to their lower load carrying capacity.

Comfort:

SL tires have a softer ride due to their lower load carrying capacity, which can make for a more comfortable driving experience.

Fuel efficiency:

SL tires are generally lighter than XL tires, which can result in improved fuel efficiency and lower operating costs.

Handling:

SL tires are designed for normal driving conditions, which means they may offer better handling and stability than XL tires.

It is important to note that these advantages may vary depending on the specific tire model and the vehicle it is being used on. It is always important to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and use the correct load range tire for your vehicle to ensure safe and proper performance.

Disadvantages of using Standard Load (SL) range tires:

There are a few disadvantages to using Standard Load (SL) range tires:

Load carrying capacity:

SL tires have a lower load carrying capacity than XL tires, which means they may not be suitable for vehicles that require the ability to carry heavy loads.

Durability:

SL tires may not be as durable as XL tires due to their lower load carrying capacity and thinner sidewalls. This means they may wear out more quickly and need to be replaced more frequently.

Performance in extreme conditions:

SL tires may not perform as well as XL tires in extreme conditions, such as off-road driving or in heavy rain or snow.

Limited availability:

Some tire sizes may only be available in XL load range, which means you may not be able to find an SL tire in the size you need.

What is the Impact of Truck Tire Ply on Load Ratings?

The higher the truck tire ply rating, the stronger the tire meaning it can safely support a heavier load.

Load range ratings are expressed using the letters “A” through “L”, with letters down the alphabet indicating an increase in tire strength.

Light truck tires fall between the letters “C” and “F”, meaning they have a ply rating of 6 to 12.

Which Vehicle Models Support SL And XL Range Tires

Standard Load (SL) range tires are generally used on passenger vehicles and light trucks. They are designed for normal driving conditions and have a lower load carrying capacity than Extra Load (XL) tires.

Some examples of vehicles that may use SL range tires include:

  • Sedans and coupes
  • Hatchbacks and wagons
  • SUVs and crossovers
  • Pickup trucks
  • Vans and minivans

Extra Load (XL) range tires are generally used on vehicles that require additional load-carrying capacity, such as heavy-duty trucks, trailers, and buses. They have thicker sidewalls and a more robust construction to support the added weight.

Some examples of vehicles that may use XL-range tires include:

  • Heavy-duty trucks
  • Trailers and semi-trailers
  • Buses
  • Some SUVs and crossovers are equipped to carry heavy loads

It is important to note that the specific tire size and load range recommended for a vehicle may vary depending on the manufacturer’s specifications and the specific model of the vehicle. It is always important to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations and use the correct load range tire for your vehicle to ensure safe and proper performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I interchange standard load tires with extra load tires?

You can use extra load range tires if a vehicle is rated for standard load range tires. However, if the car is rated for extra load range tires, you should not use standard load range tires on it. 

Can I mix standard load tires with extra load tires? 

As a general rule, you should not mix any two types of tire ranges on the same axle. Pick the most suitable tires depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation or vehicle use. 

Can the choice of tires affect my vehicle insurance?

Yes. If you make a claim in case of an accident, your insurance can deny you compensation. If they discover you were using tires with a different load rating than the vehicle manufacturer recommended. 

Conclusion

Even though we have listed several factors to consider when choosing between standard load tires or extra load tires, the two most important factors you should consider are:

Manufacturer’s recommendation 

Always use the tires recommended in the vehicle’s user manual. An exception should only be when upgrading from SL to Xl range tires. 

Vehicle use

If you add extra strain to your vehicle, e.g., by carrying heavy loads or driving off-road, use the XL range tires. For everyday highway use, use SL range tires if the manufacturer approves.

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Rifen

2 thoughts on “SL vs XL Load Range Tires: Which One Is The Best For What?”

  1. Will tires with an XL load range provide any benefits if the vehicle sits for extended periods of time? For example SUV not driven for 4+ months in summer months in Florida winter home? Thanks

    1. Certainly! Using XL load range tires can be beneficial for your SUV that sits for extended periods. XL tires are designed for heavier loads, distributing weight evenly to prevent flat spots. They have reinforced sidewalls that resist damage and maintain shape during stationary periods. While helpful, remember to maintain proper tire pressure, move the vehicle occasionally, protect tires from sunlight, and inspect them before driving. These practices, along with XL tires, can preserve tire integrity.

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