13-Inch Tires Will Not Go Away, for Better or Worse

Bob Ulrich
Posted on December 19, 2019

I wonder if the 13-inch tire will ever disappear. The 12-inch tire is almost gone; only the 155/80R12 remains, according to the Tire & Rim Association. But there are standards for 14 13-inch sizes!

Even the small 155/80R13 is hanging on. When I joined the Modern Tire Dealer staff as assistant editor in 1985, the P155/80R13 represented 5.5% of the replacement radial passenger tires shipped in the U.S. – nearly 6 million tires! Wow.

Only 60% of the passenger tires sold in 1981 were radials.
Only 60% of the passenger tires sold in 1981 were radials.

And there were no signs of its demise. The same size represented 4.9% of all the domestic original equipment passenger tire shipments, including bias-ply tires, or more than 2.5 million tires. It was one of four 13-inch OE tires among the top 10 tire sizes at the time.

Fast forward to the Facts Issue on which we are now working. There are no 13-inch tires in either the OE or replacement top 10, according to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. The smallest OE size in the top 10 is the most popular size: 225/65R17.

As for the 155/80R13, you can get a Westlake RP18 in that size from a Walmart Tire & Lube Express. Walmart Inc. just slashed the price of the tire from $32.97 to $28.72. (On a totally unrelated note, Amazon just dropped the price on the same tire from $30.23 to… $28.72.)

Tire Rack Inc. sells one size 155/80R13 tire, the Kumho Solus TA11, for $59.36. Walmart sells it for $50.26.

I bring this up for two reasons. First, I ran across a tire advertisement appearing in a Record-Courier supplement on May 22, 1981 (I helped put the supplement together when I lived in Ravenna, Ohio, in a past life). The independent tire dealer who ran the ad is no longer in business. He was located near East Park restaurant (home of the Bunyan Burger, which was great), and it, too, is no longer in business. The ad promoted size P155/80R13 Uniroyal “steel-belted whitewall blemished” All Seasons for $33.95 (see photo above).

Second, one of the new sizes that will be available in 2020 is P155/65R13 XL. Despite the growth in tire sizing – and the number of tire sizes – it looks like the 13-inch tire may be here to stay.

Related Topics: Amazon.com, B.O.B., Bunyan Burger, Kumho Solus TA11, Tire & Rim Association, Tire Rack, USTMA, Walmart, Walmart Tire & Lube Express, Westlake RP18

Bob Ulrich Editor, Retired
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