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Both a 265 and a 275 tire are engineered to fit on an SUV or a light-duty truck. The fundamental difference between the two tires is size; the 265 is slightly narrower and smaller in diameter than the 275.

While the two are generally interchangeable, there are safety considerations that may impact your choice.

Difference Between 265 And 275 Tires

When looking at a specific tire, you will notice the numbers 265 and 275. These numbers refer to the measured cross-section width of the tire in millimeters.

For example, if your tire size is 265/75R/16, it means that the tire measures 265 millimeters across the tire from sidewall to sidewall. This is the width of the tire.

If you have a 275/70R/16 tire, it means that the tire measures 275 millimeters across the tire from sidewall to sidewall. It is 10 millimeters wider than the 265 tire size. 

suv tires with 275mm width

What do the other tire numbers mean?

There are other numbers on a tire that are important to know. Let’s use a tire size of P265/75R/16 as an example.

  • P = A prefix put on the tire which means passenger car tire.
  • 265 = The width of the tire measured in millimeters.
  • 75 = The aspect ratio of the tire. It’s the height of the sidewall measured as a percentage from the wheel rim to the top of the tread. In this case, 75 means 75%.
  • R = The construction used in the tire casing. R means radial construction.
  • 16 = The diameter of the tire measured in inches.

four new car tires on display

Dimensions

When it’s time to buy tires, take a look at your owner’s manual. If they recommend the 265, be aware that the wider and taller 275 tire may not clear in all circumstances.

Should you need to make a hard, sharp turn, the bigger tire may be damaged as it connects with the vehicle.

Modern cars are built to specific aerodynamic standards to meet CAFE standards. If a 265 is what your vehicle is designed to use, get the 265.

If you’re worried you can’t off-road in the 265, get the warranty, a patch kit, and a portable compressor as well.

Terrain

Both of these tire sizes include cuts in the rubber to shed rocks. Both of these tires also come new with fairly deep cuts for clearing sand and gravel on rough terrain.

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If you like to take your SUV out into the wilderness or take your truck for some off-roading, either of these tires will work.

Off-roaders may also find that the 275 tire is a bit more useful to them in rough country; the extra .5 inch of diameter will increase your clearance by a bit and get you over bigger rocks.

The 275 is wider because the sidewall is thicker and some drivers find this tire a bit stiff.

Jeep suv with aggressive tires for terrain

Grip

Both of these tires are also engineered to shed water and mud when things get sloppy. For those in a pickup dealing with the lighter back end in slippery situations makes a tire with excellent traction even more important.

If you like to get out into the wilderness and do some mudding or if you need to drive in the snow, the 265 may suit you better.

The 265 is a lighter tire and will reduce your risk of getting stuck in deep pockets as you try to get through mud, slush, rain puddles, or snow.

For those who like to off-road in sand, the wider 275 will likely suit. If your vehicle manual calls for the 265, carry a compressor to air down your tires if you get caught in loose sand.

suv tires with aggressive tread

Handling

On dry pavement, it may seem that your tire choice makes no difference. However, it is critical that you avoid time on tires that are not properly inflated. If you like the feel of a taller, slightly bouncier ride, get the 275 tires.

Because your vehicle will be a bit higher, there may be more road noise and more of a sense of chatter as you make your way down the road.

There’s nothing wrong with a slight sense of bounce, but it is critical that your tires do not impact your ability to stay connected to the surface.

A vehicle that bounces around may feel fun to drive in rough country, but a bouncing vehicle is not in the driver’s control. Get tires that will keep you safe for the majority of your driving.

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For most drivers of SUVs and small trucks, that means using the 265 tires.

Dexterity

The 275 tire has a thicker sidewall than the 265. If you live in rough country or if the majority of your driving is on gravel roads, the 275 may actually be a better choice.

Do be aware that this sidewall can feel a bit sluggish on tight turns. For those who love to off-road on slick material such as a frozen lake, this difference may take away your joy in your vehicle.

On regular pavement, the rigidity of the thicker sidewall will probably not be noticeable.

The wider the tire, the greater the surface connection. If you need a tire that will give you the firmest footing possible while clearing liquid and loose materials, the 275 may be the best choice.

Weight

The 275 tire is slightly heavier than the 265. Depending on the load you need to carry in your car on a daily basis, this extra weight should not be an issue, but it is important to consider if you plan to get off-road in mud, sand, or slush.

man carrying a new tire

Cost

As the 275 is a bit heavier, it’s also a bit more costly. Again, check your owner’s manual. If your manual calls for a heavier, heartier tire, get them.

Properly inflated tires are the first step in ensuring you have a safe, solid connection with the road.

Final Considerations

As a general rule, most drivers will not be able to feel a difference between the 265 and the 275 tires.

However, it is critical that you consider where the majority of your driving occurs. Do you need to move quickly through tough traffic?

The stiff sidewall of the 275 may reduce your ability to make quick adjustments. If your daily commute includes time on a gravel road, that extra sidewall material may extend the life of your tire.

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