Know Your Forklift Tires

Part II – What Are Forklift Tires Made Of And How Do You Read Forklift Tire Sizes

We recently started a series of blogs that will offer details about forklift tires. The first blog covered Forklift tire types. This blog will discuss what forklift tires are made of and how to read forklift tire sizes.

Press-on tire sizes are shown as the outer diameter x width x rim diameter.

Press-on tire sizes are shown as the outer diameter x width x rim diameter. An example would be 16x6x10.5.

Forklift Tires Are Made Of Different Materials

Forklift tires are made of polyurethane resin or rubber and contain carbon black or hydrated silica. Some tires also have steel wires embedded in them.

• Cushion press-on tires are made of solid rubber that is molded to a steel band. They contain carbon black, which causes the black marks left on the floor. Polyurethane press-on tires are made of polyurethane resins, synthetics and synthetic blends.
• Solid pneumatic tires include steel bead wires on the shoulder of the tire, hard rubber base compound, and a nylon carcass, which is a section of steel belts. You could say that the nylon carcass is a protection layer that allows the tire to continue functioning if it has been punctured. The hard rubber base helps to assure the comfort of the forklift driver as he operates the machine. It also reduces driver fatigue. The part of the tire that has a tendency to wear down over time is made of an abrasion resistant rubber compound.
• Non-marking forklift tires are made of a blend of natural rubber with hydrated silica and other additives. Carbon black is eliminated from the construction so that the tires won’t mark the floor.

Reading Forklift Tire Sizes

First, a little preliminary information on the basic components of a forklift tire. A forklift tire includes the following components:

• The sidewall, which includes important tire information such as the brand, size, type, and wear line of the tire.
• The tread, which is raised rubber that contacts the surface the forklift is riding on.
• The rim, which is a metal portion of the wheel that holds the tire in place.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, we can discuss how to actually read the forklift tire size.

Look on the sidewall of the tire.

Press-on tire size is broken down into three items –- first, there is the outer diameter of the tire, next is the tire width, and then there is the rim diameter. This is shown in numbers. Here is an example of how the size of the tire appears –16x6x10.5. 16 represent the outer diameter of the tire, 6 denote the tire width, and 10.5 is the rim diameter of the tire.

Pneumatic or solid pneumatic tire sizes appear as the width x the rim diameter. As an example, you should see something like 6.50×10. 6.50 is the width and 10 is the rim diameter.

Before buying tires for your forklift, check with the forklift’s owner’s manual to discover the proper tire size for your lift.

How To Measure Forklift Tires

If you prefer to measure your forklift’s tire size yourself, get hold of an average tape measure.

When measuring the outer diameter of the tire, look at it as a compass with north at the top. Place the tape measure at the center of the tire and then extend the tape measure “east” to “west.”

To measure a tire’s rim diameter, place the tape measure at the center of the tire and extend it out to each edge of the rim.

To measure the width of the tire, place the tape measure where the tire contacts the ground and extend it from edge to edge.

Remember, when measuring press-on tires for their size, you need to measure the outer diameter, the width, and the rim diameter. For pneumatic or solid pneumatic tires, measure the width and the rim size.


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