Writing on the Walls: Deciphering the markings on the walls of your tires

For many vehicle owners, they do not get to know their vehicle’s tire specifications until they’re forced to shop for tires after a puncture or blow out emergency situation. After all, who has time to read the hieroglyphic codes etched into the rubber walls of your tires? If you find you are suddenly in need of tire knowledge, our ASE certified technicians at Big Apple Automotive in Apple Valley, CA, have put together a code-cracking list so you can understand tire specifications and what that means for your vehicle’s needs.

The markings on your tires can be broken down into 11 parts:

  • The first element indicates the type of vehicle the tire is suited for: P for passenger, LT for light truck. European metric tires do not have this first element.
  • The second element is the width of the tire from one side wall to the other. This is measured in millimeters.
  • The third element is the aspect ratio, a number created by comparing the height of the side wall to the width of the tire.
  • The fourth element indicates the speed rating: Z is the highest speed rating, T indicates the tire is safe up to 118mph and S indicates the tire is safe up to 112 mph.
  • The fifth element is a clue to the way the tire was constructed: R for Radial Construction is the most common.
  • The sixth element indicates the diameter of the wheel in inches.
  • The seventh element shows the Load Index which determines the max capacity the tires can bear.
  • The eighth element is the speed rating: The ratings range from A to Z with Z being tires equipped for the highest speed.
  • The ninth and tenth elements come from the U.S. Department of Transportation and confirm the tire has met all safety requirements and provides a Uniform Tire Quality Grading rating.
  • The final element is the Maximum Inflation Pressure and Load number which is indicated by a PSI rating.

If you’re looking to replace the tires on your commuter vehicle, your tire needs are very different from an owner who is pushing their truck to the limits of performance and towing capacity. Some tires aid performance, others can improve fuel efficiency, it all depends on the needs of the driver. Call our technicians at Big Apple Automotive in Apple Valley, California, to get an expert opinion: 760-247-7255. Don’t forget to check out our Specials page for promotions and savings on name brand tires!

Written by Big Apple Automotive

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