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.
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).
Below you will find several charts that will help you understand tire sizing numbers, including a load index chart and speed rating chart.
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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Once you have determined it’s time to buy tires, you’ll need to know what size tires are correct for your vehicle. Depending on what you drive, you may be interested in how to find the right tire for your…
This information is usually inside your car’s doorjamb, in your owner’s manual. To ensure your current tire or a replacement tire you may be looking at matches your vehicle’s requirements, it will be good for you to understand how tire sizing works. You may have never paid attention to the string of numbers and letters on every tire, but it’s a gold mine of information.
If you’re unsure of how to read tire measurements from your tire walls, the information and graphics below will tell you how to read tire size, understand and interpret it. If you decide you want to substitute a new size or tire type, consult an authorized tire retailer who can expertly advise you, because many optional tire sizes may have different load capacities and could require wheels of a different rim width or diameter and different inflation pressure.
Not sure you need new tires? Our Tire Replacement Guidance article will help you determine whether it’s time to retire your tires.
Most passenger cars, SUVs and light pickups (1/2 ton and smaller) will come with tires that are either P-Metric or Euro-Metric. For P-Metric tires, you’ll see the letter “P” before the number sequence begins: P225/70R16 97H. P-metric is a designation standardized by the Tire and Rim Association for a “passenger car” tire type. For Euro-Metric there will be no preceding letter before the number sequence begins: 225/70R16 98H. Euro-Metric is a designation standardized by the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization for a “passenger car” tire type. Both P-Metric and Euro-Metric size tires are designed to primarily be used on passenger vehicles, which can include cars, minivans, SUVs, and other light duty pickup trucks.
If your vehicle is an SUV, Pickup truck or van, you might see a different type of size designation on your placard that is specific for heavy duty light trucks and vans, especially common on ¾ ton and larger pickup trucks and vans. There are two common size types in this category, LT-Metric and Euro-Metric Commercial (aka C-type). Both size types are metric and so use the same structure as P-Metric and Euro-Metric but have some different characters in the size that differentiate them from their passenger car cousins. LT-Metric tires will have the letters “LT” before the size number sequence: LT245/75R17 119/116R Load Range E. Notice that there are two load index numbers and a Load Range, see the section on Load Index for more info. LT-Metric is a designation standardized by the Tire and Rim Association for a “light truck” type tire. Euro-Metric Commercial or C-Type tires will look very similar to a passenger Euro-Metric size except that there will be a “C” right after the rim size: 23/65R16C 121/119R. Notice that the C-type tires also have two load index numbers. Euro-Metric Commercial, or C-Type is a designation standardized by the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization for a light truck type tire. Light truck tires are designed to be used on vehicles capable of carrying heavy cargo and are usually only specified by a vehicle manufacturer on vehicles exceeding a certain load capacity.
Other types of tires that fall into the Metric sizing type are Temporary Spares, they start with “T”. If you see a size that starts with “ST,” that means “special trailer” and is only for use on a trailer.
Regardless of whether you are looking at a P-Metric, Euro-Metric, LT-Metric, Euro-Metric Commercial, T or ST tire the numbers in the size mean the same thing.
The first number to appear in your tire size information is the width, in millimeters, of the correct tires for your vehicle: P225/70R16 91S.
Tire width always refers to the measurement from one sidewall to another. Thus, a tire with the measurement “P225” is for a passenger vehicle and has a nominal width of 225 millimeters.
After the slash mark, the next number you see is for the tire’s aspect ratio, which essentially tells you how tall your tire’s profile is: P225/70R16 91S. Aspect ratios are delivered in percentages. Tire makers calculate the aspect ratio by dividing a tire’s height off the rim by its width. If a tire has an aspect ratio of 70, it means the tire’s height is 70% of its width.
Lower aspect ratio tires, such as a 60 series, generally offer vehicle handling performance advantages over higher aspect ratio tires, such as a 75 series, but a typical trade off can be ride harshness.
After the aspect ratio comes a letter that indicates the type of internal construction maintaining your tire’s stability: P225/70R16 91S.
There are two types of construction that you may see on the sidewall of a tire:
Radial tires are the most common tires on the road in the United States today; thus “R” will usually be shown in the tire size designation. Radial construction means the tire’s internal ply cords are oriented in a radial direction, from one bead over to the other, essentially perpendicular to the direction of rotation. You may also occasionally see RF indicating a run flat tire or ZR indicating a tire that is a speed rating higher than V.
The next number is the diameter code, in inches, of the rim onto which the tire can be mounted. For example, a tire with the P225/70R16 91S would fit a rim with a 16-inch diameter.
Load index can be a confusing subject because there are so many different caveats, but we will try to explain everything here.
The next figure after the rim size in the sequence is your tire’s load index, which tells us how much weight, in pounds, the tire can support when fully inflated: P225/70R16 91S
We call it the load “index” because the number doesn’t tell us the precise number of pounds the tire can carry, at least not by itself. However, the number does correspond to a specific load capacity listed in an index. Beginning with 1 and ending with 150, numbers in the load index represent carrying capacities of 99 to 7385 lbs.
There are two types of load types for passenger tires though, Standard Load and Extra Load. If a tire is Standard Load there will be no markings indicating it but if it is Extra Load the letters XL will appear after the size and load index.
Standard Load Euro-Metric: 215/55R17 94V
Extra Load Euro-Metric: 215/55R17 98V XL
Passenger car tires like P-Metric and Euro-Metric will only have one load index number where LT-Metric and Euro-Metric Commercial (C-Type) will have two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is the load index if the tire is used in a single application, the second number is the load index if the tire is used in a dual application. Passenger type tires cannot be used in a dual application. Light truck tires will also have a Load Range that is indicated by a letter, such as Load Range E. Load Range is an older term that is still commonly used in the industry so you may hear your tire dealer reference it but the load index numbers are the best way to ensure you have the proper tire.
One important but often misunderstood facet about load index is that the load index numbers between standards organizations (P-Metric vs Euro-Metric) are not necessarily on the same scale. Meaning that two tires in the two different systems that have the same load index number could have different maximum load capacities. This is why it’s important to not only look at the load index number but also verify the actual load capacity.
The final figure in a tire size sequence is the speed rating, which is indicated by a letter: P225/70R16 91S. Just as your load index number corresponds to a specific load, your speed rating letter corresponds to a particular speed capability based on a standardized laboratory test.
For example, a tire with speed rating “S” is rated for up to 112 mph, while a tire rated “R” is up to 106 mph. Remember that this isn’t a recommended cruising speed. Of course, you should always follow legal speed limits on roadways.
Replacement tires must have the same or higher speed rating as the vehicle’s Original Equipment to maintain vehicle speed capability. If a vehicle has tires with different speed ratings, it is the speed rating of the “slowest” tire that dictates the vehicle top speed.
There is one last sizing type that you should know about, especially if you are in the market for off road tires for a light truck or SUV. It’s called a Flotation size and the numbers in this sizing format are very different from the Metric formats. Flotation sized tires are similar to LT-Metric tires in application except for a few important points. Number one, they cannot be used in dual applications and number two, an equivalent size tire may have different load capacity than its LT-Metric counterpart.
The first number in the Flotation tire size is the overall diameter in inches. Pretty straight forward.
The second number is the section width (sidewall to sidewall) measurement in inches. Again, fairly simple.
After the section width comes a letter that indicates the type of internal construction: 33X12.50R17LT 120Q.
This is the same as is found in the metric sizing systems.
There are two types of construction that you may see on the sidewall of a tire:
Radial tires are the most common tires on the road in the United States today; thus “R” will usually be shown in the tire size designation. Radial construction means the tire’s internal ply cords are oriented in a radial direction, from one bead over to the other, essentially perpendicular to the direction of rotation.
The next number is the diameter code, in inches, of the rim onto which the tire can be mounted. For example, a tire with the 33X12.50R17LT 120Q would fit a rim with a 17-inch diameter.
The letters LT will be after the Rim Diameter indicating that this tire type is intended for Light Truck vehicles similar to the LT-Metric and Euro-Metric Commercial (C-Type) tires.
Load Index and Speed Rating have the same meaning and format as the tires using the metric sizing system. Note that since flotation tires cannot be used in a dual application there will be only one load index number instead of two.
Another group of stamping on certain types of tires is the Uniform Tire Quality Grading or UTQG. This grading and stamping is required for passenger car tires (i.e. P-metric and Euro-metric) in the all season and summer categories. Dedicated winter tires, Light Truck (LT-Metric, Euro-Metric Commercial, Flotation) and Motorcycle tires are excluded from this requirement.
Quality grading is designed to make the tire purchase decision easier for you. Ideally, the system is intended to provide simple, comparative data so you can make an intelligent buying decision. However, the ratings are based upon test results achieved under special conditions. This means it’s possible to misinterpret the comparative data as it relates to your individual driving habits, conditions, etc. You should still rely on your service or tire professional for assistance.
Quality grading designates the comparative performance levels of a tire based on government-specified tests but commissioned by the individual tire manufacturers. All tire manufacturers are required to grade regular and all-season passenger tires in three categories:
The treadwear grade is a comparative rating based on the wear rate of the tire when tested under controlled conditions on a specified government test course for 6,000 miles (9,600 km). For example, a tire graded 150 would wear one and a half times as well on the government course as a tire graded 100. However actual tire performance depends on driving habits, road characteristics, service practices, and other factors that can influence the outcome.
Traction Grades AA, A, B and C
The traction grades from highest to lowest are AA (the highest), A, B and C. They represent how well tires stop on wet pavement as measured under controlled conditions on specified government test surfaces of asphalt and concrete. C-rated tires will have the lowest traction performance.
WARNING: THE TRACTION GRADE ASSIGNED IS BASED ON A WET BRAKING (STRAIGHT AHEAD) TRACTION TEST AND DOES NOT INCLUDE CORNERING (TURNING) TRACTION.
Temperature Grades A, B and C
The temperature grades A, B, and C represent the tire's resistance to the generation of heat and its ability to dissipate heat when tested under controlled conditions on a specified indoor laboratory test wheel. Sustained high temperature can cause the tire’s material to degenerate and reduce tire life, and excessive temperature can lead to sudden tire failure. The grade C corresponds to a performance level all passenger car tires must meet under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 109. Grades A and B represent higher levels of performance on the laboratory test wheel than the minimum required by law.
WARNING: THE TEMPERATURE GRADE IS ESTABLISHED FOR A TIRE THAT IS PROPERLY INFLATED AND NOT OVERLOADED. EXCESSIVE SPEED, UNDER INFLATION, OR EXCESSIVE LOADING, EITHER SEPARATELY OR IN COMBINATION, CAN CAUSE HEAT BUILDUP AND POSSIBLE TIRE FAILURE.
DOT Quality Grades
All passenger car tires must conform to other federal requirements in addition to these grades.
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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.Find tires / tire catalog
195/65 R15 91 TXL
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 precisely 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.
T - 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.
There are two different markings for American tires. 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 (corresponding 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.
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 M&S tire marking (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 pictogram (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 on which you can continue to drive a car at a speed of no more than 80 km / h with a FULL drop in pressure in the tire (due to a 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 this 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 Temperature resistance of the tire at high speeds on the test bench (A is 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. The wear indicator is made in the form of a protrusion with a height of 1.6 mm (the minimum tread value for light vehicles) and is located in the tread recess (usually in the drainage grooves).
DOT - Manufacturer's coded address, tire size code, certificate, issue date (week/year).Find tires / tire catalog
Numbers and letters on a car tire provide all the necessary information about it. True, it is not easy to read them - here, even in the designation of one parameter, several measurement systems can be used simultaneously. In addition, many values are expressed in special indices. We decipher all important labels for the buyer.
A tire label is information about its properties printed on the outer rim. This is a huge amount of useful information. Here are the parameters of the tire that can be read from it itself:
The size designation is written in the form XXX/XX R XX. For example 225/65 R17.
The first three digits are the tire width in millimetres. In our case - 225 mm.
The second digit is the height, but not in millimeters, but as a percentage of the width. In our case, its height is 146.25 mm (225 * 0.65).
The third number after R is the outside diameter of the wheel or the inside diameter of the tire in inches. In our case, this is 17 inches or 43.18 cm. Do not confuse - this is the radius, not the diameter. The letter R itself stands for the radial design of the tire, which confuses many. Sometimes Radial can be written separately on the bus - the meaning is the same. In addition to the radial, there is also a diagonal design (D), but these are not found today.
Two numbers and a letter immediately follow the size. These are the codes for the load capacity and speed limit of the tire.
Two digits - capacity or load index. This is a complex system of values, in which the larger the number, the greater the load, but the step size between the values is not constant. Therefore, it is easier to just know the most common of them:
The index value is the load on each wheel separately. To calculate the total load capacity, multiply by 4. This value can also be written elsewhere in a simpler form: Max load - xxx kg.
The letter after the two digits of the load index is the index of the maximum speed for which the tire is designed. It starts with A, but the values relevant for modern machines start with the second half of the Latin alphabet:
This is not the limit, but the maximum "comfortable" value. In exceptional cases, you can even exceed it by 20-30%, but it is better to avoid this.
Another key parameter is the time the tire was produced. Usually it is indicated in a rounded rectangle, but may be without a frame. The first two digits are the week, and the second two are the year.
Also, three more parameters are usually indicated on the tire - wear resistance margin, grip quality class and temperature index.
The wear index is denoted by the word treadwear. Its unit is 480 km. Multiply the number next to that word by that value. If treadwear is 400, it means that under test conditions at the test site, such a tire has worn out after driving 192,000 km. Also, this parameter can be designated separately as the abbreviation TWI.
Traction is a measure of how well a tire grips on wet road surfaces. It has values from AA - the best level, to CC - the worst. Tires for regular passenger cars usually have class A, and the highest class is for sports and racing.
Temperature is the tire's ability to withstand heat when driving at a certain speed. There are three values here:
Tires of modern passenger cars most often have this index value - A.
The letter E with a number indicates that the tire complies with the rules of the European Tire Standards Association (ETRTO) and has a corresponding certificate . The number indicates the country that issued it - but this does not matter, since the ETRTO requirements are the same. In this case, the tire can be produced anywhere.
The weather conditions in which this tire is allowed to be used are also usually indicated:
Winter tires must have a first, second or third designation.
On some tires you can find the designation of the type of car for which they are intended:
In addition, the tire may be marked: