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Do Dually Trucks Need Special Tires?

Often referred to as DRW or dual rear wheel trucks, dually trucks are typical in the RV lifestyle. Compared to an SRW or single-rear-wheel truck, dually trucks have advantages regarding towing and carrying heavy loads. But do these larger trucks also require special tires? Or are dually tires the same as regular truck tires? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of dually trucks and the types of tires necessary for safe travel.

Let’s get started!

Rotating Tires on a Dually Truck - How to? When? Why?

What Is a Dually Truck?

When you drive around a campground or construction site you’ll likely see a few trucks with six wheels, two in the front and four in the back. The rear of a dually truck is wider to accommodate the additional two wheels. This design increases stability and payload. For travelers who tow a heavy fifth-wheel or truck camper, this larger truck is ideal. The extra wheels add extra stability, weight capacity and safety redundancy.

Why Would Someone Need a Dually Truck?

Not every traveler needs a dually truck. Most weekend warriors hitting the road in their 8,000-pound travel trailer or pop-up camper do not need to spend the extra money on a dually truck or the cost of replacing tires. However, RVers with heavy truck campers or 15,000-pound fifth wheels appreciate the stability and payload capacity that dually trucks provide.

Other people who don’t RV also find a dually truck suits their work needs. Some may work for a company that transports loads of mulch or lawn equipment. The increased stability and payload capacity keep drivers safe on the road as they haul heavy loads from place to place.

To read more about what a dually truck can do for you, check out our article “Dually Truck: What Is it and Do You Need One for Towing?”

Lifted dually truck
Dually trucks can run wider tires but they are special order and not factory design. The tires ideally should never stick out the side of the vehicle body.

What Are the Advantages Of Owning a Dually Truck?

Dually trucks aren’t for everyone. They’re expensive and aren’t comfortable as daily drivers. However, certain advantages make owning a dually truck the right decision for some travelers. If you need to haul heavy loads, a dually truck has substantially higher weight ratings, towing, and payload stability.

Increased Towing Stability

With four rear wheels, dually trucks are significantly more stable when towing. If you have a 20,000-pound fifth wheel toy hauler, a single rear-wheel truck won’t cut it. Not only will you put severe stress on the transmission, brake system, and engine, but you won’t feel like you have the control of a dual rear-wheel truck. The towing experience is much better with a dually truck.

Increased Payload Stability

If you have a large, heavy truck camper sitting in the truck bed, a dually truck will be much more comfortable to drive than a standard truck. These taller loads require greater payload stability, and the two rear wheels provide that added stability. You won’t feel as wobbly or notice as much sway with dually truck tires.

Increased Payload Capacity

Finally, not only do you feel more control when driving a dually truck, but you also have more capacity to tow and carry heavier loads. You’ll have peace of mind as you travel, knowing your truck can handle the combination of your heavy load and the steep grades of mountain passes. A dually truck is a workhorse! The engine, brake system, and transmission can handle heavier RVs and truck campers.

Pro Tip: If your dually truck tires get slashed, use our guide on what to do.

Dually truck tires
Dually trucks cost a pretty penny, so protecting your wheels is crucial to help it go the distance.

What Are the Disadvantages Of Owning a Dually Truck?

However, dually trucks aren’t for everyone. There’s no need to invest in the extra power and tires of a dually truck if you have a smaller RV or lightweight truck camper. The overall cost isn’t the only disadvantage of owning a truck with dual rear wheels. These trucks also have a rougher ride and can be challenging to navigate.

Overall Cost

Many factors go into the price of a truck. Generally, a dually truck will cost more initially than a single rear-wheel truck of the same condition, year, make, and model. Therefore, the upfront purchase price is higher.

But the maintenance is also more expensive. When you need something replaced or repaired, your bill will be higher than someone who has the same work necessary on a standard truck. In addition, diesel fuel costs more than gas. You’ll pay more at the pump every time you refuel.

Rougher Ride

Dually trucks can transport heavy loads. The manufacturers didn’t design them to be daily drivers. When you’re not towing, the ride will be much rougher than a single rear-wheel truck. Going out to eat with your family in a truck with dually tires will be uncomfortable as everyone bounces along and feels every dip and pothole in the road surface.

Pro Tip: Rotate your dually tires with easy by using our guide on Rotating Tires on a Dually Truck: How? When? Why?.

Worse Off-Road and in Slippery Conditions

If you plan on traveling off-road, you may want to choose a different type of truck. The dual rear wheels don’t grip uneven terrain well. Rocks often stick between the two dually tires. Because of the wider design, it can also be more challenging to navigate narrow road trails.

In addition, if you plan on driving in the snow often, a dually truck may not be the best choice. The two rear wheels can trap snow and float more than a single wheel. If you want to install chains, it can be a pain to get them on the rear dually tires as well.

More Difficult To Navigate

Finally, navigating through narrow city streets or even parking at a grocery store can be more challenging. The wider body means some parking spaces won’t accommodate a dually truck. Plus, getting to your destination can be difficult if you have to drive along narrow back roads or in heavy traffic. The addition of the two rear wheels means you have to be extra cautious.

Dually truck towing fifth wheel
Dually trucks require six identical tires.

Do Dually Trucks Need Special Tires?

There is no such thing as a dually tire. These trucks use the same tires as standard trucks; they simply have more of them. You can buy truck tires for your dually anywhere that has them in stock from Walmart and Costco to Discount Tire. The standard size tire for a dually is 225/85R16 E rated or higher tire. This size is a little narrower than a non-dually truck, but designed for high loads.

Ensure that you have installed six identical tires. Dually tires need to match. The cost of tires is another factor to consider. When you have to replace tires on a dual-rear-wheel truck, you’re paying more because you must purchase more.
Ensure that you have installed six identical tires. Dually tires need to match. The cost of tires is another factor to consider. When you have to replace tires on a dual-rear-wheel truck, you’re paying more because you must purchase more.

Do Dually Tires Wear Differently?

The outside tires wear might faster than the inside tires on a dually truck. The front tires wear faster than the rear tires unless you’re constantly hauling or towing heavy loads. Because of the additional weight, the rear tires may wear out faster than the front tires. This is one reason you should rotate your tires on a dually truck like any other vehicle.

However, because there are six instead of four tires, the weight distributes more evenly. Thus, the tires tend to last longer than tires on a single rear-wheel truck. Although you must pay for six instead of four when it’s time to replace them, you typically replace dually tires less often.

We usually get between 40k and 50k miles out of a set of highway dually tires. Off-road or more aggressive tires tend to wear out much faster.

Pro Tip: Take care of your dually truck tires by discovering What Is Tire Shaving? The Dying Art of Truing Tires.

Dually truck tires
These are special wide truck tires on a dually. While they might look fun, sticking out wide like this causes all kinds of mud and rock spray on your vehicle and trailers. (trust us we know) Dont go wide unless you have extra wide fenders.

Can I Mismatch Dually Tires?

You don’t want to mismatch dually tires on the same axle. When it’s time to replace a couple of tires, you need to replace all six. Yes, this is expensive. However, it comes with owning a dually truck. 

So what’s the harm in mismatching dually tires? This is where it gets a bit technical. You have a dually truck because of the increased load-carrying capacity. You must inflate and size the two rear tires the same to handle the load. In addition, each tire’s diameter governs its revolutions. To prevent traction loss or drivetrain damage, the overall circumference and diameter of each tire must match as closely as possible. A full load could bend the axle if you have dually tires of different heights.

You can mismatch front and rear tires, however, you cannot then rotate them into service on the rears.

What’s the Difference Between Dually Tires And Super Single Tires?

Some people purchase a dually truck only to replace the dual rear tires with super single tires. Super singles are much wider than standard tires because they replace two tires. They’re still capable of carrying the same heavy loads as dual tires.

However, owners don’t have to deal with rocks sticking between the two tires. Off-roaders also prefer super singles because these tires have improved traction when traveling on uneven terrain. But like dually tires, there are disadvantages to super single tires. One of our trucks we switched to super single tires and we wrote a few articles all about it.

To learn more about super single tires, read our article “What Is a Super Single Dually? Pros and Cons of Super Single Tires”

Think A One Ton Truck Is Big Enough? What Are The Differences And Why You Might Want A 550 or 5500?

Take Care Of Your Dually Truck Tires This Camping Season

If you’re spending the money upfront for a dually truck, it’s imperative that you properly maintain it. Repairs can be more expensive, and you’ll be more limited to shops that work on diesel as well. Taking care of your dually tires is part of this maintenance. Keep an eye on the tread. Rotate the tires as necessary. Avoid rough road surfaces as much as possible.

Replacing six tires is expensive, but for many travelers, the advantages of a dually truck outweigh the expense and other cons. If you need to transport heavy loads or tow a large fifth wheel, a dually truck is a workhorse and will provide the capacity and stability you need. Just don’t forget to take care of those tires!

Do you drive a dually truck? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Bob

Monday 24th of July 2023

I’m curious about some of the differences you state between DRW and SRW truck, since no matter whether Ford, Dodge, or GM, they offer the same engine/transmission combinations for both single and dual trucks. So how does a dually result in higher investment for “extra power”, less “severe stress” on the engine and transmission, or greater maintenance costs (other than having to buy two more tires)?

Sure, the initial cost of the truck is slightly higher due to the spacers required on the axles, the wider box, and two extra tires, but mechanically they are the same. You can select the same gas or diesel engines in single or dual trucks, so one can select whether they pay extra for diesel or not.

You know a lot about batteries and electrical, those videos and blogs are always very educational. If I may offer some constructive criticism, I think your mechanical pieces could use a little more research.

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 2nd of August 2023

Thats a great point and you are correct, to some extent. When we bought our first truck however it was all in the gear ratio. SRW were all 3.73, 4.10 and eve 4.30 were available only for the DRW. Yes it raises your RPM but makes towing much better. Makes sense that they would push this to the DRW only. You can configure most SRW with 4.10 not but they dont build many that way. Steeper gears = higher RPM but less stress on components. Our 5500. has 4.88 in it.

Pete

Wednesday 19th of July 2023

Dually does not necessarily mean diesel anymore. I have a Ford 7.3 gas engine dually, and it's great. Plenty of power to carry my 4,500lbs load. How often do you tire rotate ?

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 14th of September 2023

We rotate based on wear, really depends on truck use. Fronts wear faster when unloaded and back wear faster when loaded. We have gone 20k without rotating because of mixed use, but usually around 10

Lloyd W White

Wednesday 19th of July 2023

We have a Lance truck camper and would not even think of using a truck camper without dual rear truck.