Modern-day tires come with loads of stamps and letters printed on them in order to communicate to the driver what it is that these tires are designed to do. A modern tire code consists of the tire size, the construction symbol, the rim diameter, the speed rating, the run-flat tire designation, the aspect ratio, and the load range to name a few.
SL and C1 both refer to the tire load range which is a measurement intended to tell you the maximum weight a tire can carry at a specific PSI rating. In this article, we are going to compare SL vs C1 tires and tell you what is so special about each.
SL vs C1 Tires
The “SL” symbol is an abbreviation for “standard load” which means that SL tires are your normal 4-ply everyday type of tires with a maximum load PSI rating of 35 PSI. These don’t come with any special reinforcements which is why they aren’t your go-to tires for commercial purposes.
On the other hand, a C1 tire is what you’d usually refer to as a 6-ply semi-commercial-rated tire as its maximum load range is at 50PSI which means that the C1 tire is able to carry more weight in a more stable and reinforced manner. Besides these obvious differences, these two types of tires differ in many other ways we are going to mention now.
Why Are SL Tires Better Than C1 Tires?
- They Are More Comfortable
- They Are Cheaper
- You Don’t Need A Higher Load Range
- More Options
Are SL Tires More Comfortable Than C1 Tires?
Standard load tires are indeed more comfortable than C1 tires because they don’t come with any inner reinforcements which do affect the softness of the tire, especially when properly inflated. A C1 tire has stiffer sidewalls which make the entire tire beefier and thus stop it from flexing as much as an SL tire.
An SL tire is just a better daily driver for everyone who does not need a higher-load range tire. Many people believe that it is better to have a more capable tire even if they aren’t using its entire potential, but that is to the detriment of overall comfort. We also need to mention that SL tires are much quieter as all the extra reinforcements do make a difference when it comes to road noise.
Are SL Tires Cheaper Than C1 Tires?
Yes, there are a few reasons why an SL tire is indeed cheaper than a C1 tire. First of all, an SL tire is much more popular and the demand for SL tires is much more exaggerated. This leads to the market having more SL tires which ultimately lowers the cost. C1 tires are not nearly as popular, at least not in the normal consumer tire market.
Moreover, C1 tires are reinforced which means that they come with added materials and technological solutions in order to make them stronger. In essence, this pushes the final price up which is why you can often see a C1 tire cost $30-$100 more than a normal SL tire.
Do I Need C1 Tires?
Where the SL tire beats the C1 tire without breaking a sweat is in the necessity department as many people are willing to go for a C1 tire over an SL tire even though there is absolutely no actual need for that. This means that people prefer having a tire that can withstand higher loads even when they aren’t using their trucks for any heavy hauling.
It really makes little sense as a C1 tire is not built to excel in normal driving while an SL tire is. If you do little else besides normal driving, then you just aren’t choosing the right tool for the job.
Are SL Tires More Widespread Than C1 Tires?
Because SL tires are much more popular and are considered the standard, there are numerous brands and models to choose from. As such, you can get an SL tire from virtually any brand out there while the sizing is very much the same. C1 tires aren’t as widespread as SL tires which means that you sometimes will not be able to go for a brand you are used to.
Why Are C1 Tires Better Than SL Tires?
- Better Load Capacity
- More Durable
- Better For Towing and Hauling
- Better Off-Road Performance
Does A C1 Tire Offer A Higher Load Capacity Than An SL Tire?
A C1 tire inflated to its maximum of 50PSI is always going to be able to carry more weight than a fully inflated SL tire at 35PSI. This does not only make a difference while maxing out these tires as a C1 tire is going to offer a more dependable and consistent experience even at loads both of these tires can endure.
A C1 tire isn’t prone to flexing as much which is why it will always feel more connected and dialed down to the ground. This is the main reason why one would go for a C1 tire over an SL tire, and if that is something you really need, then all of this is settled.
Are C1 Tires More Durable Than SL Tires?
Even though a tire load range isn’t designed with your normal durability in mind, a C1 tire is indeed more durable. By “normal” we mean that a C1 tire is not more resistant to cuts, scratches, and punctures, but it is more durable when it comes to blunt impacts such as blunt potholes and forces that push against the tire longitudinally.
The stiffer sidewalls are what makes all the difference, especially when the tires are both inflated properly.
Are C1 Tires Better For Hauling And Towing Than SL Tires?
You do need to consider what your driving habits look like. If you are the type of person to always haul and tow heavy loads, then a C1 tire is a much better option than an SL tire.
A C1 tire is able to haul and tow in a more consistent manner and isn’t going to be prone to swaying as much as an SL tire even if the weight isn’t all that substantial. C1 tires are more confidence-inspiring while towing and hauling and can withstand the added stress a lot better.
Are C1 Tires Better Off-Road Tires Than SL Tires?
Even though load range isn’t designed with off-roading in mind, a C1 tire is going to be able to withstand more abuse than an SL tire which does inherently make it a more reliable off-road tire. These differences are most noticeable when it comes to flexing as a C1 tire will help you traverse challenging terrain without worrying about your tires slipping nearly as much as with an SL tire.
This also works well for Overlanding and many other environments where you often encounter great terrain variety. You don’t have to be as careful with a C1 tire as you do with an SL tire as C1 tires are much more resistant to blowouts.
How Does Load Range Compare To Load Index?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware that load index and load range are not the same things. However, many people don’t understand the difference between these two and how they co-exist in the world of tire measurements.
Load Index is a special rating that displays the specific maximum weight a tire can carry. If you want to know how much weight your car can carry, you need to combine the load index of all four of your tires which will give you your maximum load index. For example, if your tire load index is 500 lbs, the maximum weight these tires can carry is 2000 lbs (4×500 lbs).
Load Range on the other hand will tell you at which PSI level your tires can carry their maximum weight. If we use a C1 tire and apply it to our existing example, it means that we can carry 2000 lbs in the most dependable manner if we inflate the tires to their maximum 50PSI rating.
This is why these two measurements work hand in hand as both are needed to properly assess the load you can carry. However, things are not so simple when it comes to how a specific load rating affects tire longevity.
Should I Buy C1 Or SL Tires?
It all boils down to if you often use your truck/car for off-roading, hauling, and towing as there are three environments in which a C1 tire beats an SL tire anytime. On the other hand, if you spend most of your driving time commuting without carrying significant weight, an SL tire is going to be a better choice as it is a better daily driver tire overall.
At the end of our SL vs C1 tires article, we can easily say that there are pros and cons to both of these. The C1 tire is commonly used on vans and other smaller semi-commercial cargo vehicles which spend the majority of their driving time carrying heavy loads from point A to point B. Moreover, C1 tires can also often be seen on off-road machines as they are able to offer a more dependable off-roading experience.
On the other hand, an SL tire is your normal “standard load” tire which means that it excels in daily driving conditions and should be your choice if you don’t care about off-roading, hauling, or towing.