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GMC Sierra Tires Options & Their Uses

By:  Connor MC  / Sep 24 2019
GMC Sierra Tires Options & Their Uses)

Outfitting your GMC Sierra 1500 with a quality set of tires is important to ensure proper performance and safety are both achieved. And just like choosing shoes for your own feet, some thought needs to go into the process of tire selection in relation to the type of driving intended. It wouldn’t make sense to buy winter boots for spring break in Cancun, nor would it be beneficial to outfit a Sierra with slicks when it is going to be towing.

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The proper tire is the difference between hauling payloads through a muddy field and stopping at the edge of grass and pavement. Shoeing your workhorse of a truck in the appropriate tire will not only make your jobs easier, but also provide a more enjoyable ride.

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How Can I Tell if My Tires are Worn?

Generally speaking, the industry standard measurement to indicate a worn tire is when the tread measures 2/32 of an inch or less. There are specific tread depth measuring tools you can buy and use or alternatively, using a penny is a quick and cheap way to gauge the wear. Place a penny upside down into a groove and if you are able to see all of Lincoln’s head then the tire is worn out. Furthermore, companies are manufacturing their tires with a built in tread indicator. When enough tread has worn off, a bar or groove that runs across the tread will be exposed, signifying it’s time to replace the tire. It goes without saying that a worn tire will have significantly less traction under all driving conditions – be it upon acceleration, braking, wet or dry roads – and is at increased risk of a blowout.

Picking the Right Tire

Picking the right tire for your Sierra is all about knowing the type of driving you will mostly be doing and in what sort of climate. Once you have determined that, there are only really three different categories to choose from.

All-season tire: The all-season tire is more or less GM’s tire of choice. What I mean by this is that the majority of new Sierra pickup trucks sold from a GM dealer are shod with an all-season shoe. An all-season tire is a cost-effective, long lasting tire that offers good performance in both wet and dry conditions with some mild off-road capability. They feature a relatively benign tread pattern that produces lower rolling resistance, a comfortable ride, and low road noise. All-season tires are an ideal choice for a Sierra that spends its time in a moderate climate and is mostly relegated to on-road duties and construction site jobs (heavy hauling and towing are no problem, but an all-season tire isn’t going to pull you out of thick mud or heavy snow).

All-terrain tire: An all-terrain tire moves up several levels from an all-season tire in terms of off-road performance. Featuring a more pronounced, elevated and aggressive tread pattern, an all-terrain tire is well suited for deep off-road adventures deep and will easily shed mud and water due to their widely sculpted grooves. And thanks to the magical properties of modern day radial tire compounds, an all-terrain tire delivers pretty good on-road performance as well. Due to the more aggressive tread pattern, all-terrain tires have a lesser service life and produce more road noise than an all-season tire, but not significantly so. They also offer good snow capability and many are even certified (via a snowflake pictogram on the sidewall) to meet or exceed severe-rated snow service. This is great news for Sierra owners that live in colder climates where snow is frequent as you don’t need to bother with a second set of winter tires in order to achieve proper wintertime performance. All things being said, all-terrain tires are the most popular choice for Sierra pickups as they simply offer the best performance across the broadest range of driving conditions.

Mud-terrain tire: Finally, there are mud tires. If an all-terrain tire was not aggressive enough to get you through the bog then a mud-terrain tire is what the doctor will order. Built with an extremely rugged tread pattern and massive self-cleaning grooves, a mud-terrain tire is a heavy duty tire made to duke it out in the mud and dirt. Knowing that these tires are likely destined for rough off-road abuse, mud-terrain tires are usually a 3-ply design, which make them very strong and less perceptible to puncture when rolling over trail features. Of course, all of this strength and off-road traction come at a price, and in this instance, the price is tire noise and service life. By no means is a mud-tire difficult to live with on the street, but it is noisier than both types discussed above and will wear quicker – it is the nature of the beast.

Ply Rating and Load Capacity

Another aspect that should be closely examined when outfitting a Sierra with some fresh rubber is the tire ply-rating/load capacity. Given that a Sierra is a truck and may be subjected to truck stuff like towing trailers or carrying cargo, the tire needs to be appropriately rated to carry not just the weight of the Sierra, but any extra load that may be placed on the axles. In order to find this out, you need to know what the gross axle weight rating (GAWR) is of your Sierra, per axle, and then find a tire that meets this criteria. For example, if the GAWR of your Sierra is 4600 lbs, you need a tire with at least half the rating (half the rating because there are two tires per axle, thus two tires with a load capacity of 2300 lbs each equals 4600 lbs overall).

Proper Maintenance

In order to get the maximum service life out of a set of tires, it is important to regularly check their air pressure. Running over inflated or under inflated for long periods of time will cause unusual wear patterns which in turn will reduce the overall life of the tire. The ideal air pressure, as specified by GM, can be found in the owner's manual or on the build sticker (usually found in the glove compartment or on the inside of the door). The manufacturer of the tire may have some recommendations as well in regards to what pressures should be run depending on the situation you’ll be driving in.

In addition to verifying the air pressure is correct, regular tire rotations will help to keep the wear pattern even across all four tires. The recommended rotation period (and direction) is also found in the owner's manual.

Factory Tire Sizes

Sierra 1500 Years Factory Available Sizes
2017-2018 Sierras

255/70R17 all-season

265/70R17 all-terrain

265/65R18 all-season or all-terrain

275/55R20 all-season or all-terrain

285/45R22 all-terrain

2013-2016 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall

P & LT 265/70R17 all-season or all-terrain blackwall

P265/65R18 all-season blackwall or white-outlined letters

P275/55R20 all-season or all-terrain blackwall

2012 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall

P265/70R17 all-season blackwall or on/off-road blackwall (or white letter)

LT245/70R17 all-terrain blackwall

P265/65R18 all-season blackwall or on/off-road blackwall (or white letter)

2011 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall

P265/70R17 all-season blackwall

P265/70R17 on/off-road blackwall or white letter

P265/65R18 all-season blackwall or white letter

P275/55R20 AL2 touring blackwall

2009-2010 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 AL2 blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 on/off-road blackwall or white letter

P265/65R18 all-season blackwall or white letter

P275/55R20 AL2 touring blackwall

2008 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 AL2 blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 on/off-road blackwall or white letter

P275/55R20 AL2 blackwall

LT245/70R17 steel, all-terrain blackwall

2007 Sierras

P245/70R17 all-season blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 AL2 blackwall or white letter

P265/70R17 on/off-road blackwall or white letter

P275/55R20 AL2 blackwall

2007 Sierra Classic

P235/75R16-106S all-season

P245/55R20-111S touring (standard w/ Sierra Classic)

P245/70R17-108S all-season (standard)

P265/70R17-113S all-season (white letter optional)

P275/55R20-111S touring blackwall (standard w/ B4V)

Fitment includes: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Classic, NevadaEdition, SL, Z71, Denali, SLE, SLT