Deciding which tire is a best fit for your GMC Sierra will depend on many things. Not the least of which is what your priorities are for tire replacement. The factory, or original equipment manufacturer (OEM), tires were chosen by GMC as the most reasonable and economical balance between capability, fuel economy, and cost. Your priorities may be different, with one factor being more important than the others. Perhaps you prefer longer tread life, a cheaper up-front cost, or more capability. This guide is designed to help you find what’s best for your GMC Sierra based on your preferred criteria.
In addition, it’s recommended that those requiring winter tires consider Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 tires for the GMC Sierra.
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
Different trim levels of the GMC Sierra 1500 in its current generation come with various original equipment tires. Because wheel sizes vary with each truck configuration, there may be differences between one and the other. To simplify, this list includes the most common OEM tire for each trim level of the Sierra:
There are several choices in tires for the Sierra. Here, we focus on brand rather than specific models for the truck. This may help if your vehicle is not equipped with its original manufacturer or non-standard wheels. Most recommended tires here come in a variety of sizes and all of our recommendations are given high consumer ratings. These tire brands are listed in order of pocketbook depth. Whether you’re on a budget or are willing to spend like a drunken congressman, there’s a choice here for your GMC Sierra.
The two enemies of tires on any vehicle, including your Sierra pickup, are time and mileage. Most vehicle tires, whether for a truck or car, have a lifespan of about five years from the date of manufacture. Most truck tires have mileage lifespans between 40,000 and 70,000 miles of road use.
With time, the check for a “use by” date is fairly simple. Every tire made for sale in the U.S. has a raised DOT number that gives a date of manufacture accurate to within a week. These 12-digit codes are in three groups of four digits each. The first two groups are for identifying the manufacturer and place of manufacture, among other things. The third group’s four numbers note the week and year of manufacture. A code of 3219 indicates the tire was made in the 32nd week of 2019 (September 11-17, 2019). Similarly, a code of 1918 indicates manufacture in the 19th week of 2018 (May 7-13, 2018). Adding five years to the date of manufacture notes the expiration date for the tire.
The more likely indicator of a tire needing replacement, however, is mileage. Most mileage is measured by tread wear rather than actual mileage on the vehicle’s odometer. A tire rated for “70,000 miles” could, in fact, require replacement at 65,000 or 75,000 miles by tread wear indicator.
Before talking about tread wear, it’s important to understand the mileage ratings given to tires by manufacturers. The “expected” mileage on the tire’s rating is an estimate and is not usually a guarantee. Mileage ratings for tires are given as a UTGQ number. UTGQ stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grade STandards, which are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) via its subsidiary, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It’s worth noting that while the NHTSA did set the standards for the UTGQ rating, the agency does not enforce or test those ratings; it only recommends them. The ratings appearing on tires and sales literature are set by manufacturers. So variance is an expectation.
Nevertheless, the UTGQ rating can indicate the expected lifespan of the tire. These ratings are made from a baseline of a 100 score. That score indicates tread wear in a 400-mile test loop undertaken in West Texas for 7,200 miles. That amount of wear on a baseline tire is then translated to other tires via tread wear over the same course. The baseline tire is a “10,000 mile” tire, meaning it will require replacement not too long after the West Texas testing completes. Thus a UTGQ rating of 700 would indicate the tire has a tread wear rating of 70,000 miles. Again, most can expect to see variance in the real world. The UTGQ also includes a traction and a temperature rating, indicated by an A, B, or C. The first letter is the traction rating, which measures stopping distance on wet pavement. The second letter indicates how well the tire stands up to extreme heat. An AC rating, for example, indicates very good wet traction stopping and poor heat tolerance.
Most tread wear measurement, in the real world, is based on practical safety expectation. Tread depth, face wear, and so on are all do-it-yourself approaches to tire wear that are used most often to decide upon replacement. Most vehicle repair experts and technicians are familiar with the “rules of thumb” governing treat depth checks. These can be as simple as putting a coin into the tread to see how much is left to sophisticated gauge measurements. Most consumers should rely on an expert’s opinion when judging whether a tire requires replacement. Your Sierra’s tires are its first line of safety and should be treated as such.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) tires are the tires that GMC decided were the best fit for your Sierra. GMC, however, decides based on several factors that may or may not apply to you and your truck’s use.
GMC assumes, with its choice of tires, that the Sierra 1500 will see a mixture of road, highway, and all-weather use. They consider the average user of the truck and what they’ll expect from the Sierra’s tires over the first few years of ownership. GMC also considers its own relationships with tire manufacturers and what costs will be associated with choosing one tire over another as the OE choice for the Sierra 1500. Other considerations include road noise, handling characteristics, and “sell factor” (how much impact the tire could have on truck sales at the dealership).
As a consumer, however, you have a wide range of choices for your GMC Sierra. You may need more all-weather capability, better off-road handling, higher longevity in highway use, or better resistance to hydroplaning. Your specific uses will vary from the “average.” As the consumer, things like warranties and dependability are also important. So will the cost.
You are the deciding factor and while the original equipment choice from GMC might do, so might another option too.
Your Sierra may have come with 15, 17, 20, or any of a number of wheel sizes and tires to match. One common modification truck owners make, however, is swapping those out for aftermarket choices that differ in size and look from the originals.
Wheels and the tires mounted on them come in a variety of sizes. Unless there are plans to change other aspects of your Sierra’s suspension, however, it’s a good idea to keep the overall diameter of the wheel and tire the same. This means proportioning the larger wheel with a smaller sidewall tire or getting a larger sidewall with a smaller wheel. This will keep the alignment, drive characteristics, safety metrics, and speedometer/odometer readings on your truck equivalent to its manufacturer specifications.
Your reason for up- or downsizing wheels and tires could be for aesthetic reasons, for improvement to ride quality, to reduce costs for replacement, or for seasonal needs. Sometimes, your use metrics for the truck indicate a different tire is necessary, for example a smaller wheel and larger tire wall for off-roading.
There are several numbers and letters involved in tire sizing. These are universal, however, and indicate several things about the tire. When matching a tire or shopping for replacements, it’s important to know what these tire size indicators mean.
A common GMC Sierra tire size is 235/65R17. The numbers indicate several things about the tire, starting with its tread width, sidewall height, and then its wheel opening. The 235 is the measurement of millimeters of width for the tire tread, indicating that the tire’s tread is 235mm wide. The 65 indicates sidewall height as an aspect of the tire’s overall ratio--the higher this number, the higher its height in comparison to the overall width. This tire, for example, is 152.75mm tall (65% of its width). The “R” indicates that the tire is of radial construction, which means that the structural plies of the tire’s body radiate out from the center of the wheel (or hub). Most tires are of the radial type as the radial construction spreads loads more evenly across the tire’s surfaces. Finally, the last two digits are the wheel size the tire is meant for, in this case a 17-inch wheel.
After the tire’s size and construction indicators, there are often more digits and letters identifying other characteristics of the tire. While not related to size, they may be important to the consumer’s expectations in the tire’s use, called a Service Description. This will typically look like “103H” or similar. A two- or three-digit load rating indicates the amount of weight the tire is capable of bearing. Most truck tires have a load rating of 100 or more. This number is usually followed by a letter, which indicates the highest speed the tire is rated to achieve. Most tires fall into the N, P, Q, R, S, T, U, and H categories. These speed ratings range from 87 mph (N) to 130 mph (H). Tires used over their speed rating may over-inflate, warp, or worse. Your Sierra’s tires likely have a speed rating of R or S (106 to 112 mph).
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
In general, there are four tire “types” for use on trucks and SUVs. These include Touring and All-Season tires, Performance tires, All-Terrain tires, and Winter (or Snow) tires. Most Sierra owners will use either Touring/All-Season or All-Terrain tires as a rule. Performance tires may be of benefit to those who drive primarily on the highway, but some all-weather and off-road capability is lost as a compromise. Similarly, Winter or Snow tires are used only a few months of the year and should be considered as a separate, extra set of tires rather than as the norm. Choose the best All-Season or All-Terrain tires for your truck based on your expected usage of your Sierra.
If you are using tires that are the original equipment with your truck or that match your truck’s OEM tires, a sticker on the inside of the door frame of your Sierra will indicate the expected tire pressure you should inflate to. This is usually 32-35 psi when the tires are cold. The actual pressure in your tires will change with loads (cargo or passenger), heat (highway driving), etc. Your truck’s tires also have a maximum PSI indication etched on the sidewall which is the maximum pressure you should allow in the tires (not the average or recommended).
The owner’s manual for the current-generation Sierra says tires should be rotated every 7,500 miles. A general rule of thumb is to rotate tires with every oil change or every 7,500 miles, whichever is soonest. Extensive off-road or towing use may mean more frequent rotations are in order. Tire rotation helps to keep tire wear even and improves the longevity of the tires. Some tire manufacturers, if you’re using aftermarket tires, have their own rotation recommendations.
No, the tire pressure monitoring system does not require replacement with tire changes. It may, however, require inspection and could require recalibration should your new tires be different from the old. Most tire shops can perform these services and usually include a maintenance check of the TPMS with a rotation.
Your truck should have come from the manufacturer with a simple jack and a spare tire that matches the other OEM tires on the truck. The location of the jack and its accessories (including a lug wrench for removing lug nuts from the wheel) varies, depending on your Sierra’s configuration. Most of the time, it is found beneath the rear seats or behind the seats against the rear cabin wall. On some models, it may be below the front passenger’s seat. Many truck owners purchase and carry a better lug wrench and more heavy-duty jack as an added safety measure.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing tires for your GMC Sierra. Online retailers often have the lowest prices and the most convenience when it comes to purchase. Most online retailers of merit, such as Tire Rack, include fit guides and total cost estimators to give you an idea of what your budget will be for purchase, shipping, and installation on your new truck tires. Read more on the Best Places to Find Tires Online and Save Hundreds here.
Shipping from most online retailers is free, but some may come at a cost. This will vary depending on the carrier, distance, and other factors. Sometimes, shipping costs will be contingent on your installer, who may have an agreement with the seller to reduce or even remove shipping costs altogether.
Most tire sellers offer installation as part of the purchase price of the tires. Some online retailers will promote a similar deal if they have agreements with tire shops in your area. You can otherwise expect to pay $25 to $40 per tire for mounting, balancing, and installation. This may or may not include new valve stems, which can range from $5 to $20 each.
This is certainly a possibility, if you live where winter tires are recommended for your Sierra. Often, purchasing winter tires in the “off season” can save money. Consider the cost of the tires, however, as well as the cost of installation and removal (swapping) with your rest-of-the-year treads. Many buyers find that purchasing winter tires with cheaper wheels is a better alternative, allowing for faster or even DIY exchanges when the weather comes.
Ordering your tires online vs. the shop will save you money