4 ply vs 10 ply tires: Is a higher ply tire better?

With six extra nylon cap plies added to its steel belt, a 10-ply tire car easily carries 3,000 pounds on the roughest terrains. However, its incredible strength and durability are only useful for heavy-duty SUVs and Trucks.

If you want to comfortably ride a passenger car, you need less beefy 4-ply tires with a ‘Standard Load’ rating. In this detailed 4 ply vs 10 ply tires comparison guide, I’ll tell you how you can evaluate the tire’s load capacity, durability, and performance from the ply rating.

Let’s get to know how the ply count determines the tire’s application and discuss whether your vehicle needs10-ply or 4-ply tires.

What is Tire Ply Rating?

The ply rating of a tire implies whether the tire is standard or is constructed for off-roading. It indicates how strong the tire is and how much load it can carry. Plus, you can easily understand the tire’s limitations, handling power, comfort, noise level, inflation pressure, and price point.

Modern-day tires are strengthened differently, so ply rating doesn’t anymore imply how many layers were used to manufacture the tire.

Instead, it corresponds to the load range in modern tires. Higher ply tires are thicker and constructed for rough terrains. Lower ply tires are standard ones made for everyday uses on regular roads. It’s important to mention that the ply count of tires nowadays is sometimes referred to as ‘load range’.

The load range is expressed by a letter, and it’s scribbled on the tire’s sidewall.

Types of Tire Ply

Two types of tire plies are available on the marketplace: Radial tire ply and Bias or cross tire ply. The tires are categorized depending on whether the ply runs to the tire’s bead horizontally or diagonally.

1. Radial-Ply Tires

In this design, the tire plies run radially or horizontally to the bead. Here, one tire ply doesn’t rub against the other when the tire flexes. So, radial tires offer better fuel efficiency in comparison to bias-ply tires.

Here are some noticeable features of radial tire ply-

  • Tough overall construction with flexible sidewalls
  • Longer tread life
  • Contacts with the surface in a stable way reducing the damage to a minimum
  • Offers a softer and more comfortable ride
  • Reduced heat production

2. Bias- Or Cross-Ply Tires

This type of tire is mainly suitable for heavy-duty tasks. Here, the tire ply runs diagonally at a 35° or 40° angle of the tire tread. Its robust construction offers a smoother ride on rough terrains and higher load capacity.

However, the rolling resistance isn’t up to the mark. Some other notable features of bias-ply tires include-

  • Stronger sidewalls, thanks to the cross-hatch construction
  • Costs less
  • Durable on bumpy and rocky roads
  • Mostly used on heavy machinery
  • Not suitable for long rides on regular roads

Also Read: Are 10 Ply Tires More Puncture Resistant? (Answered!)

How Does Ply-Rating Correspond To Load Range?

As mentioned, the ply rating has been replaced by load range to indicate a tire’s load capacity and inflation pressure. Here’s the relation between the load range and ply rating of a tire-

Load RangePly CountMaximum Load Pressure
B4-Ply35 psi or 240 kPa
C6-Ply50 psi or 350 kPa
D8-Ply65 psi or 450 kPa
E10-Ply80 psi or 550 kPa
F12-Ply95 psi or 650 kPa

difference between 4 ply and 10 ply tires

Now it’s time to compare the ply ratings based on their features, performance, and price range. Let’s get straight into it.

#1- Load Capacity

The load capacity is the most obvious difference between a 4-ply and 10-ply tire. With a B load range rating, 4-ply tires can be inflated to a maximum of 35 psi or 240 kPa load pressure. The maximum load pressure for E-rated 10-ply tires is 80 psi or 550 kPa, which is way higher.

Clearly, 10-ply tires are constructed for carrying heavier loads. If you want to haul or tow heavy cargo, 10-ply tires are the best option.

#1- Strength and Durability

10-ply tires have around 6 extra layers of rubber than 4-ply tires. Also, thicker and stiffer materials are used to construct 10-ply tires for handling extra weight. Hence, the sidewall strength of this type of tire is higher than the 4-ply tire.

The beefier construction helps the tire withstand road abuse for a longer time. However, 4-ply tires are also strong enough to withstand the environmental changes and wear on dry terrains. Top-rated brands use high-quality rubber to increase their tread life.

#2- Handling

Since 4-ply tires are manufactured for dry terrains and everyday uses, they have softer rubber material and improved tread design for better handling. Plus, 4-ply tires are thinner than 10-ply, making them easier to handle.

So, 4-ply tires are more responsive during acceleration, braking, and steering. On the other hand, the added thickness of 10-ply tires makes them stiffer, affecting the handling. Yet, such tires are more stable and handle decently on rough terrains.

#3- On-Road Performance

It’s no secret that 4-ply and 10-ply tires are manufactured for different purposes. When it comes to on-roading, 4-ply tires are your best bet. The soft rubber material and fewer layers make them flexible on dry and flat terrains.

They also offer a smoother ride and more flexibility. Hence, moving the vehicle on flat, wet, and slippery roads are easier with 4-ply tires. As for 10-ply tires, the stiff construction is not at all suitable for dry terrains.

#4- Off-Road Performance

If you’re used to riding on dirt zones, construction sites, or rock climbing, 10-ply tires are the way to go. The inner construction of 10-ply tires is reinforced with additional belted layers.

Hence, these tires are thicker, more shock-absorbing, gripping, and highly stable on rough rocky terrains. On the other hand, 4-ply terrains don’t offer the required traction needed for comfortable off-roading.

#5- Traction and Grip

The material and tread design on a 4-ply tire improve the traction on the road. Hence, these tires grip the surface strongly and offer a stable ride. The soft tire material increases the agility taking less time for braking and cornering.

10-ply tires have a thicker and deeper tread design that ensures a strong grip on rocky terrains. However, the dry performance of these tires isn’t that good. So, 4-ply tires are definitely the winner here.

#6- Puncture Resistance

As the sidewall of a 10-ply tire is beefier, the tread on the tire doesn’t easily spread out and causes a puncture on rough potholes. Sharp objects can’t easily penetrate the extra layers and robust construction materials.

4-ply tires are disadvantaged in this case as their construction material is flexible and softer. Hence, 10-ply tires are less likely to cause a blowout than 4-ply tires.

#7- Noise Level

When the tire rotates, the extra rubber layers of the 10-ply tire rub against the road surface, creating greater friction and louder noises. Hence, this tire creates a lot of annoying sounds on both flat and harsh terrains.

On the other hand, a 4-ply tire doesn’t create much friction or noise, thanks to the thinner construction.

#8- Fuel Efficiency

As a general rule, the more weight you put on a tire, the less fuel efficiency you’ll get. 4-ply tires are rated for carrying less load. Also, the lack of additional belted layers makes them lightweight with lower rolling resistance.

So, you’ll get better mileage and fuel economy from a 4-ply product.

#9- Comfort Level

Although 10-ply tires are more shock absorbent, they deliver a rough performance, making them less comfortable. Meanwhile, 4-ply tires offer a strong grip, better handling, less noise, and smoother rides for the drivers and passengers. If you want to drive comfortably on regular roads, 4-ply tires are a better choice.

#10- Price

10-ply tires are costlier than any lower-ply tires, and for good reasons. Manufactures add extra layers, improved technology, and unique tread design to improve their load capacity, resistance, and durability.

4-ply tires are cheaper but aren’t compatible with heavy-duty vehicles like trucks or trailers. So, I would say you get what you pay for, and the prices for each type of tire are completely justified.

people also ask (FAQs)

1. How much air do you run in a 10-ply tire?

10-ply tires are rated E for load range, and the maximum load pressure for these tires is 80 psi. At 65 psi, the tire can haul 2,507 pounds, whereas the capacity is as low as 2,314 pounds at 60 psi. However, 30-35 psi is enough inflation pressure for regular uses.

2. Can you tow with 4-ply tires?

Yes, 4-ply tires can tow light loads at maximum inflation pressure. These tires are rated B for load range and support 35 psi load pressure max.

At 35 psi, a 4-ply tire can haul 1,430 pounds. However, experts don’t recommend using 4-ply tires for towing as they aren’t robust enough.

3. What ply is a standard load tire?

A 4-ply tire is a standard load tire and is often marked as ‘Standard Load’ or SL on the tire’s sidewall. Standard load tires are manufactured for passenger vehicles and average everyday driving. They can’t withstand heavy loads like high-ply tires.

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Mahir Ahmed


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