Tires for Mazda SUV

Hello, new member here with a question about tires for my Mazda Tribute SUV. The manual calls for a P235/7016 with a 104T load rating…how would ride and performance be affected if I used the same size tire, but with a 103T rating? I do not use the car for heavy hauling, like pulling a trailer or carrying a ton of stuff - it’s just for driving around town and the occasional fishing trip to the local pier.
Thank you.

103 has a load rating of 1929 lbs
104 has a load rating of 1984 lbs

R speed rating 106 mph
S speed rating 112 mph
T speed rating 118 mph

As long as you keep it under 100 mph and don’t carry much weight you should be ok. but I’m not a tire expert.

This is where we need @CapriRacer our resident tire expert

It_s-Me is correct in the information.
But the question is why are you considering a (slightly) lower load rating?
I would not go with less than what is specified by the vehicle manufacturer.


Additionally, many tire shops would refuse to install tires with a lower load rating.


First, there is no such thing as a P235/70R16 103T. P235/70R16’s only come in 104 Load Index (SL) and 107 Load Index (XL).

To complete the picture: 235/70R16’s (No “P”) come in 106 and 109 Load Index. - and apparently BFG makes an LT235/70R16 104/101 Load Index (but that is a whole different animal.)

So assuming you got the 103T part wrong, and it’s really 106T, there is more difference between make/model of tires than between tires with different Load Indices. You need to decide what things are important to you and choose carefully.


@bushd57_179423 If you have a tire shop that you feel comfortable with or has good rating on your local web review sites then tell then just what you want the tires to do.

It also sounds like you could do with a lower cost tire of the proper size.

I may have read the load rating incorrectly and will have to look again to see if it was the 106. The tire was a Michelin Defender and I have Michelins now that need to be replaced, but they are very hard to come by in that size. Since I don’t tow anything or carry a big load, I thought a 103T might work as well as the 104T and possibly give me a slightly smoother ride.

Listen to @CapriRacer , he’s a tire expert.


Tire Rack sells Michelin Defender LTX M/S tires in your size with a load rating of 109T and that is the only load rating available for Defenders in your tire size according to the manufacturer.


I was definitely mistaken about the 103T, but there are no 104T Michelins available in my size. Their web site lists 3 models for my car, all without the P and all in either the 106 or 109. Would going to the 109 give it handling issues or a harsh ride? I live in Tampa, so driving in snow is not an issue.

Within a tire make/model, ride quality is mostly about inflation pressure. So NO!, going to a 109 (XL) would not appreciably affect either handling issues nor ride issues.

But why do that unless 104 (SL) tires aren’t available.

And just to make things clear. Even within a brand, there can be considerable ride/handling differences between tire models.


Rather than using the Michelin site, take a look at the tirerack die.
The will ship the tires to an installer near you.

On the site they provide a help guide. You enter the features that you desire, ie ride and handling, then will show you tires with those qualities.
Or you can shop by brand.

I have not purchased tires from TireRack, I think other people on CarTalk have, I use it as a tool to find tires that fit my requirements.

Back in the days before Costco stocked winter tires, I bought Michelin winter tires from TireRack–twice–and both times it worked out well. I ordered them mounted on steel wheels, thus allowing me to install (and later, to remove them) at my convenience.

In more recent years, I have used their site to compare tire brands/models for my car before buying them locally.

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Exactly what I do. Not hung up on any particular brand, I look for tires that fit my needs, for me, priority is wet traction.

I buy my tires at Tire Rack. I get exactly what I want without finding a local tire store that handles them. The store often needs to get the tires from a warehouse anyway. I have them shipped to my repair shop for installation. It’s more about trust for the installer and alignment tech than the tire price, though Tire Rack prices are competitive.