Tire type codes

What do the numbers on tires mean?

Tire Sizes Explained

Section width of tire (Example: P

225/45R17 91V)

The three digits following the service type prefix (if present) tell us the cross-sectional width of the tire in millimeters.

In the example above, the tires width, measured from the widest point of the inner sidewall to the widest point of the outer sidewall when properly mounted, is 225 millimeters. The section width can be converted to inches by dividing the width in millimeters by 25.4 like so: (225 millimeters) / (25.4 mm/in) = 8.86 inches.

Aspect ratio of sidewall (Example: P225/

45R17 91V)

The two-digit number that usually follows the tire's section width tells us the aspect ratio, or tire profile measurement.

In this example, the 45 indicates that the sidewall distance, from the wheel rim to the outside of the tread, is 45% of the section width. A lower aspect ratio means a lower-profile tire with a shorter sidewall, while a tire with a higher aspect ratio will have a taller sidewall and look more like a donut. Because we know that the tire size shown in this example has a section width of 8.86 inches and the aspect ratio is 45%, the sidewall height for this tire is 3.98 inches: (8.86 inches) x (.45) = 3.98 inches.

Tire and wheel diameter (Example: P225/45R


Again using our example tire size from above, the 17 means that the tire should be matched to a 17-inch diameter wheel.

Tires usually come in the following widths (in inches): 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 28. Tires in these sizes are typically found on most passenger cars, light-duty light trucks, SUVs, minivans, and vans. Tires with a rim diameter measured in inches are called "inch rim" sizes.

Unique wheel diameters

In addition to the inch rim sizes, there are also some unique tire sizes out there. Although not as common, tires are made in half-inch diameters for some heavy-duty light trucks, box vans, and heavy-duty trailers. These sizes are usually 14. 5, 15.5, 16.5, 17.5, and 19.5 inches, and an example would be 33x12.5R16.5 118R.

Tires and wheels with unique rim diameters should never be combined with traditional inch rim tires and wheels. Before mounting tires on wheels, the tire and wheel diameters should always be confirmed to match.

More info included in the tire size

Internal construction (example: P225/45

R17 91V)

When a letter (R, D, or B) follows the two-digit aspect ratio, it tells us the tire's construction. In this example, the R means that the tire has radial construction. Over 98% of all tires sold today are radial tires, where the internal body plies of the tire radiate outward from the center. If there's a D instead of an R, the tire has a bias ply construction, meaning that the internal body plies of the tire crisscross on a diagonal pattern. In belted tires (marked as B), the internal plies crisscross like in a D construction, but there's also an extra layer of reinforcing belts under the tread area. Belted tires are rarely seen these days.

Speed rating (Example: P225/45R17 91


Today, the only speed rating still included in the tire size is the Z rating (sports cars). Since 1991, all other speed ratings are included in the service description, as shown below.

Service description rating (Example: P225/45R17


Since 1991, the service description rating is mandatory for all speed ratings (except Z-rated tires) and appears at the end of the tire's size brand. The service description is used to identify the tire's load index (91 in the example above) and speed rating (V in the example).

For more on load indexes and speed ratings, read Breaking the tire code: Understanding tire service description, load index, and speed rating

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Tire Size Explained: What the Numbers Mean

Tire size can be confusing. Some numbers on the sidewall are listed in millimeters while others are inches. Plus, the right size for your car, truck, or trailer can differ depending on where and how you drive.

You can see your original equipment tire size in your owner’s manual or on the placard generally located on the driver’s side door jam. This is the sizing recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

If you’re interested in switching out your tires for a different look or performance, a good place to start is the numbers and other indicators on your existing tires’ sidewall. Next, have a tire professional help you determine a tire size range that will fit your vehicle and driving needs.

Tire Size Meanings

Here’s what those numbers and indicators on the sidewall indicate and how to understand them:

A: TIRE TYPE The first letter in the code tells you what class of tire it is.

P stands for passenger vehicle tire. P-class tires include cars, SUVs, crossovers, minivans and smaller pickup trucks.

LT means light truck tire, designed for vehicles that are capable of carrying heavy loads, towing trailers, or for those looking for an extra heavy duty option. These are often equipped on three-quarter or 1 ton trucks and SUVs.

ST stands for Special Trailer. These tire sizes are meant for trailers, including fifth wheels and other travel trailers, as well as boat and utility trailers.

If there’s no letter before the first number, you have a metric tire most commonly referred to as European size. It’s also measured in millimeters but may have a different load capacity than a P or LT tire.

B: TIRE WIDTH The three-digit number following the letter is the tire’s width (from side to side, looking at the tire head on) in millimeters. This may also be referred to as the section width.

C: ASPECT RATIO The forward slash separates the tire width number from the two-digit aspect ratio. The bigger the aspect ratio, the higher/taller the tire’s sidewall, or “profile” as it’s sometimes called.

The aspect ratio is indicated on the tire sidewall as a percentage. It’s the height of the sidewall measured from wheel rim to top of the tread, expressed as a percentage of tire width.

In this example, the aspect ratio is 65, meaning the sidewall is 65 percent as high as the tire is wide. To get the sidewall height, take the tire width of 215 mm and convert it to inches (8.46). Then multiply this by 65% (.65). This gives you an answer of 5.5, the sidewall height in inches.

D: CONSTRUCTION TYPE This single letter tells you about the internal construction of the tire.

R is for radial tires, the industry standard for most tires today. They have better road grip, lower rolling resistance for better gas mileage, ride comfort and durability than previous generations of tires. In a radial tire, the plies — layers of strong cords made of a blend of polyester, steel and fabric and coated with rubber — are laid perpendicular to the direction of travel.

D is for tires built with diagonal (crisscrossed) plies, called bias-constructed tires. They are also called conventional, x-ply, or cross-ply tires. Some motorcycle and trailer tires still use this internal construction.

Some run-flat tires are identified with an F followed by the type of internal construction.

E: WHEEL DIAMETER This two-digit number specifies wheel diameter in inches. It’s the distance between the two bead seat areas (where a tire gets tightly sealed onto the wheel).

F: LOAD INDEX The two-digit or three-digit number that follows the gap specifies tire load index. The load index symbol indicates how much weight a tire can support, based on the following standard chart. In our example, the load index is 89, which indicates the tire has a load capacity of 1,279 pounds, when inflated to the tire’s maximum air pressure rating.

G: SPEED RATING The last letter is the tire speed rating. This indicates the top speed it’s safe to travel at for a sustained amount of time. A tire with a higher speed rating can handle heat better and provide more control at faster speeds. The maximum operating speed of a vehicle is no more than the lowest speed rating of all tires mounted on the vehicle. (Of course, you should always abide by speed limits for safer driving.) Speed rating is usually, but not always, a single letter (see the chart).

Tire Size Charts

Below you will find several charts that will help you understand tire sizing numbers, including a load index chart and speed rating chart.

Buying New Wheels or Changing Your Tire Size?

A tire size calculator is a quick way to see whether the tire size you’re considering will likely fit your car, SUV, sports car, light truck or crossover.

But remember that is only an estimate. It’s important to stay within the sizing tolerances of your vehicle. Tires that are the wrong size could cause some pull in the steering wheel, rub against the suspension or body of your vehicle, reduce clearance on hills, or result in a stiffer or noisier ride.

If you’re considering mounting a different tire size on your vehicle, check with a tire expert. Find out whether the tires and wheels you have your eye on are the right fit for your vehicle’s suspension, gearing, and bodywork. And ask how any differences in revolutions per mile, tire speed, load index, and speed rating will affect your ride quality and vehicle performance.

See how new tires and rims will look on your car or truck using our Virtual Wheels simulator, available at any Les Schwab.

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Tire markings and markings on tires

Established marking standards allow you to find out the characteristics of a car tire by looking at its sidewall. But not all motorists, especially beginners, can easily "read" the applied designations. Today we will analyze what tire parameters are and how manufacturers indicate them on their products.

Tire sizes

The first and main parameter that you should pay attention to is the numbers on the sidewall.

A popular size for mid-size city cars.

For example, "205/55R16" means that

  • tire width is 205 mm;
  • the percentage of the height of the tire to its width (and not the height itself, as some motorists mistakenly believe) - 55%;
  • The inner diameter of the tire (or the outer diameter of the wheel it fits) is 16 inches.

The manufacturer usually indicates the optimal size for your car in the owner's manual.

The use of tires of a smaller diameter will lead to a decrease in ground clearance, and larger models may simply not fit into the wheel arches.

Diagonal and radial cords

Tires differ in the way they are tensioned with cord threads: in diagonal ones they are allowed to cross, in radial ones they are not. The second option is more modern, characterized by increased rigidity and reliability. Designated with the word "Radial" or the letter "R" in the frame size.

Radial tires, due to the larger contact area, provide better traction.

Load and speed indices

After the standard size, there are load and speed indices, that is, the maximum allowable values ​​for this type of rubber (in our case, “91V”).

In the presented version, the load on one wheel should not exceed 615 kg, and your speed should not exceed 240 km/h.

Choose the load index for a car based on half the maximum weight acting on the axle. Manufacturers recommend choosing tires with a margin of 15-20% of the calculated value.

Also calculate the speed index with a margin of about 15%. Such an amendment is needed due to the fact that the speed of the car can increase on long descents or with a strong tailwind.

Calculate the load index for SUV tires with a margin of 30%.

Seasons and road conditions

Tires are divided into winter, summer and all-weather. Manufacturers indicate belonging to a certain type using appropriate inscriptions or images (raindrops, sun rays, snowflakes, etc.). The presence of several images indicates the all-season product.

  • Summer - summer tires.
  • Winter tires for winter driving.
  • AGT, AS, All Season, R+W (Road + Winter) - all season tires.
  • M+S (Mud+Snow) - an indication that this rubber can be driven in mud or snow. In the Russian Federation they are all-weather.
  • M/T (Mud Terrain) - Suitable for driving on muddy terrains, but wear out faster than conventional tires on asphalt.
  • A/T (All Terrain) is a compromise solution suitable for paved roads and moderate off-road.
  • Water, Rain, Aqua etc. - most effective on wet pavement.

Additional markings

  • Extra Load or XL - manufacturers claim that these tires have an increased load capacity. But the actual allowable load is determined only by the corresponding index.
  • SUV or 4x4 - this is how models designed for all-terrain vehicles and crossovers are marked. Thanks to the reinforced frame, they have greater strength and rigidity.
  • The letter " C " after the size - is placed on models suitable for small trucks or minivans. Usually they have a double load index (for example, 102-100 / Q), where the first number indicates the carrying capacity for single-slope cars, and the second for dual-slope ones.
  • Front Wheel and Rear Wheel - indicates that the tire can only be installed on the front or rear wheel, respectively.
  • Rotation - indicates the direction of rotation of car tires. Can be supplemented or replaced by curly arrows. Present only on models with an asymmetric pattern.
  • DOT - this is how tires are recommended for use in the United States (this means that they meet the standards of the US Department of Transportation).
  • The letter " E " in a circle indicates that the tires meet European quality standards. It is much more common on the Russian market than "DOT".
  • RunFlat (RSC, MOE, AOE, SSR, EMT, ZP, RF) - on such tires you can continue driving at a speed of no more than 80 km / h after a complete loss of tire pressure. The distance that can be driven on a flat tire depends on the manufacturer and ranges from 50 to 150 km.
  • TWI - Tread wear marker. Indicates its minimum allowable depth. The inscription, which begins to wear off, is a clear sign that the rubber needs to be replaced urgently.
  • Traction A, B or C - Improved wet braking performance. The highest index is "A", the lowest - "C".
  • AD, SD, DD, OD, MD - the presence of aluminum spikes, with a carbide, rectangular, oval core, plastic with a carbide core, respectively.
  • Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, Yokohama, etc. - the manufacturer must be indicated on the tires. Tires without a manufacturer's name may not meet the declared characteristics, and their use may be unsafe.

Color marks

They come in red, green, yellow or white and help you properly install the tires on the car.

  • The red dot or triangle marks the hardest spot on the tyre. When installed on an alloy wheel, it must be aligned with the “L” mark.
  • White dot or triangle - the most flexible section of rubber, should be on the opposite side of the "L" mark.
  • The yellow mark is the lightest part of the product and should line up with the spool on the disc.
  • Green circle - this is how manufacturers usually mark products before initial installation.

Colored stripes help warehouse workers recognize tire sizes and models stacked in stacks.

Chambered and tubeless

Most modern tires are tubeless. They are designated "TL" or "Tubeless". Outdated chamber models are labeled "TT" or "Tube Type". They differ in the way they are attached to the rim of the disc.

Tubeless tires with minor punctures are repaired without removing them from the wheel; also, with periodic pumping, drive to the nearest car service.

Date of tire manufacture

With prolonged storage, tires lose their elasticity, and their driving performance deteriorates.

But on the models of some manufacturers, you can "read" the year of manufacture and refuse to buy old products.

A 3- or 4-digit code is indicated on the side in a rectangular frame with rounded corners. In the first case, the tire was produced before 2000, in the second - after. The first two digits of the number indicate the week, the last - the year. For example, code 308 means that tires were released in July 98 or 88, 1517 - in April 2017.

Read also: What pressure should be in the tires

How to decipher the American marking

In the United States, tires are produced with two different markings. The first differs from the European ones only in additional letters before the standard size:

  • P (Passenger) - models for passenger cars.
  • LT (Light Truck) - tires for small trucks.

The second one is more different from the standard size we are used to, besides it indicates the dimensions in inches. For example, a 33x12.50 R15 tire has an outer diameter of 33 inches, a profile width of 12.5 inches, and an inner diameter of 15 inches. The rest of the abbreviations are identical to the generally accepted ones.

Tire marking. How to correctly determine tire parameters

Do you want to choose a tire for your car, but do not understand tire markings well? It's not a problem! In this section, we will help you figure out what tire parameters are, what they mean, and which tire is right for your car.

Select tires / tire catalog

Explanation of tire markings.

195/65 R15 91 T XL

195 is the tire width in mm.

65 - Proportionality, i.e. profile height to width ratio. In our case, it is equal to 65%. Simply put, with the same width, the larger this indicator, the higher the tire will be and vice versa. Usually this value is simply called “profile”.

Since the tire profile is a relative value, it is important to take into account when choosing rubber that if you want to put tires with a size of 205/65 R15 instead of the size 195/65 R15, then not only the width of the tire will increase, but also the height! Which in most cases is unacceptable! (except when both of these sizes are indicated in the car's operating book). You can calculate the exact data on changing the outer dimensions of the wheel in a special tire calculator.

If this ratio is not specified (for example, 185/R14C), then it is equal to 80-82% and the tire is called full profile. Reinforced tires with this marking are usually used on minibuses and light trucks, where a large maximum wheel load is very important.

R - means a tire with a radial cord (in fact, almost all tires are made this way now).

Many mistakenly believe that R- means the radius of the tire, but this is the radial design of the tire. There is also a diagonal design (indicated by the letter D), but recently it has practically not been produced, since its performance is noticeably worse.

15 - wheel (rim) diameter in inches. (It is the diameter, not the radius! This is also a common mistake). This is the “landing” diameter of the tire on the disk, i.e. is the inside size of the tire or the outside of the rim.

91 - load index. This is the level of maximum permissible load on one wheel. For passenger cars, it is usually done with a margin and is not a decisive factor when choosing tires (in our case, IN - 91 - 670 kg.). For minibuses and small trucks, this parameter is very important and must be observed.

Tire load index table:

T is the tire speed index. The larger it is, the faster you can ride on this tire (in our case, IS - H - up to 210 km / h). Speaking about the tire speed index, I would like to note that with this parameter, the tire manufacturer guarantees the normal operation of the rubber when the car is constantly moving at the specified speed for several hours.

Speed ​​index table:

American tire marking:

There are two different American tire markings. The first one is very similar to the European one, only the letters “P” (Passanger - for a passenger car) or “LT” (Light Truck - light truck) are placed before the size. For example: P 195/60 R 14 or LT 235/75 R15. And another tire marking, which is fundamentally different from the European one.

Example: 31x10.5 R15 (corresponds to European size 265/75 R15)

31 is the outside diameter of the tire in inches.
10.5 is tire width in inches.
R - a tire with a radial design (older tire models were with a diagonal design).
15 is the inner diameter of the tire in inches.

Generally speaking, except for inches that are unusual for us, the American tire marking is logical and more understandable, unlike the European one, where the height of the tire profile is not constant and depends on the width of the tire. And here everything is simple with decoding: the first digit of the standard size is the outer diameter, the second is the width, the third is the inner diameter.

Additional information indicated in the marking on the sidewall of the tire:

XL or Extra Load is a reinforced tire, the load index of which is 3 units higher than that of conventional tires of the same size. In other words, if a given tire has a load index of 91 marked XL or Extra Load, then this means that with this index, the tire is able to withstand a maximum load of 670 kg instead of 615 kg (see the table of tire load indices).

M+S or tire marking M&S (Mud + Snow) - mud plus snow and means that the tires are all-season or winter. Many summer tires for SUVs are labeled M&S. However, these tires must not be used in winter, as winter tires have a completely different rubber compound and tread pattern, and the M&S badge indicates good flotation performance.

All Season or AS all season tires. Aw (Any Weather) - Any weather.

Pictogram * (snowflake) — rubber is designed for use in harsh winter conditions. If this marking is not on the sidewall of the tire, then this tire is intended for use only in summer conditions.

Aquatred, Aquacontact, Rain, Water, Aqua or icon (umbrella) Special rain tires.

Outside and Inside ; asymmetric tires, i.e. It is important not to confuse which side is the outside and which is the inside. When installing, the Outside inscription must be on the outside of the car, and Inside on the inside.

RSC (RunFlat System Component) - RunFlat tires are tires that allow you to continue driving at a maximum speed of 80 km/h with a FULL tire pressure drop (puncture or cut). On these tires, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, you can drive from 50 to 150 km. Different tire manufacturers use different designations for RSC technology. For example: Bridgestone RFT, Continental SSR, Goodyear RunOnFlat, Nokian Run Flat, Michelin ZP etc.

Rotation or arrow This marking on the tire sidewall indicates a directional tire. When installing the tire, you must strictly observe the direction of rotation of the wheel, indicated by the arrow.

Tubeless - tubeless tire. In the absence of this inscription, the tire can only be used with a camera. Tube Type - indicates that this tire must be used only with a tube.

Max Pressure ; maximum allowable tire pressure. Max Load - the maximum allowable load on each wheel of the car, in kg.

Reinforced or the letters RF in the size (for example 195/70 R15RF) means that this is a reinforced tire (6 layers). The letter C at the end of the size (for example 195/70 R15C) indicates a truck tire (8 layers).

Radial this marking on the rubber in the standard size means that it is a radial construction tire. Steel means that there is a metal cord in the tire structure.

Letter E (in a circle) - the tire meets the European requirements of ECE (Economic Commission for Europe). DOT (Department of Transportation - US Department of Transportation) is an American quality standard.

Temperature A, B, or C The temperature resistance of the tire at high speeds on the test bench (A is the best).

Traction A, B, or C Tire wet braking capability.

Treadwear ; relative expected mileage compared to a specific US standard test.

TWI (Tread Wear Indiration) - tire tread wear indicators. The marking on the TWI wheel can also be with an arrow. Pointers are located evenly in eight or six places around the entire circumference of the tire and show the minimum allowable tread depth.

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