What do the numbers on the sidewall of your tire mean?

Have you ever looked closely at the outside of a tire and wondered what the sequence of numbers on the sidewall mean? Those numbers are not random, nor is their location. The numbers on the sidewall of your tire provide valuable information that every driver should know.

What do the numbers on the sidewall of your tire mean?

A person inspecting tires | fake images

When shopping for tires, there are several things to consider. The weather is one of those things. If you live and drive in sunny Florida, you can get along with a good set of all-season tires. If you live in upstate New York, you may want to invest in snow tires for part-time use. However, there is more to consider than just local weather.

According to S&S Tire of Lexington, Kentucky, the first thing to consider is your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. You’ll also want to think about ride quality. A set of tires may look nice, but if the tread makes a lot of noise on the road, your commute to work may be less comfortable. Speed ​​rating and tire type are other factors to consider before purchasing new tires.

All this information can be found on the side wall. Understand the sidewall code and you can learn everything you need to know about every tire you see.

Known as the tire code, the numbers and letters molded into the sidewall of a tire tell you more than just the size. Required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) since 1971, the alphanumeric sequence on the sidewall provides crucial data for each individual tire, including:

  • load index
  • tire manufacturer
  • Physical characteristics, including width and aspect ratio
  • rim diameter
  • speed rating
  • Vehicle Classification
  • When and where was the tire made?

Goodyear Auto Service breaks down the DOT P215/65R15 95H tire code and explains that the P at the beginning of the sequence indicates a tire for a passenger vehicle. The next three numbers refer to the width in millimeters from one sidewall to the other. In this case, the width is 215 mm.

The two numbers after the slash are the height to width ratio of the rim. In this case, the aspect ratio is 65, which indicates that the height of the tire is 65 percent of its width.

The next letter, a capital R, means that it is a radial tire. The two digits after the R reveal the diameter of the wheel the tire is made for. In this case, the tire is intended for a 15-inch wheel.

Goodyear did not explain the 95H at the end of the sequence. Underriner Automotive says that part of the code refers to the tire’s speed rating and load index.

Safe tires you can count on in any situation

Unless something goes wrong, most people don’t think twice about the tires on their cars. Those who look closely can gain valuable information simply from the appearance of a tire.

If you don’t know anything about tires, the best thing to do is take your car to the dealer to have the set of tires changed. You’ll get the right tires, but you could end up paying a lot more than if you bought aftermarket tires and had them installed. However, be careful when buying your own tires. Understand the DOT sidewall codes before you go, so you won’t be talked into buying the wrong tires.

The tires help you accelerate, navigate corners and stop when needed. In fact, tires are some of the most important safety features on your vehicle. Know what you need and choose wisely when you understand the meaning of the letters and numbers on each sidewall of the tire.

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