Decoding Your Tire's Sidewalls: What it all Means.

Decoding Your Tire's Sidewalls: What it all Means.

Decoding the Mystery: A Guide to Reading Your Tire’s Sidewall

We all understand how important it is to have well maintained tire; proper air pressure, proper balancing, limited tread ware, etc. And making all this a bit easier is understanding what all the jargon on your tire sidewalls mean and how to read it. Because, who of us haven’t  glanced at your car’s tires and been overwhelmed by the seemingly cryptic information etched onto the sidewall?

But, fear not; understanding this tire hieroglyphics isn’t as challenging as it appears. And in this guide, the experts at Tracy’s Tire Pros will unravel the jargon and decode the essential details found on your tire’s sidewall. And this will empower you to make informed decisions about your vehicle’s most critical contact points with the road.

Tire Size and Type

The sidewall is your tire’s identification card, and the first set of characters typically indicates the tire size and type. And, it follows a standardized format.

Let’s break it down this example: P215/65R15

  • “P” denotes a passenger car tire,
  • “LT” indicates a light truck tire.
  • The three-digit number (e.g., 215) represents the tire’s width in millimeters.
  • The two-digit aspect ratio (e.g., 65) is the ratio of the tire’s height to its width.
  • The “R” stands for radial construction, the most common type today.
  • The two-digit number following the “R” (e.g., 15) indicates the diameter of the wheel the tire is designed to fit.

Understanding this information helps you ensure you’re selecting the right size tire for your vehicle.

Load Index and Speed Rating

Next up on the sidewall is the load index and speed rating. And these numbers and letters provide crucial information about the tire’s load-carrying capacity and the maximum speed it can safely handle.

Let’s break this down: 

  • A tire with a load index of 94 can support 1,477 pounds, while a speed rating of “H” indicates a maximum speed of 130 mph.

Make sure to match these specifications with your vehicle’s requirements for optimal performance and safety.

Treadwear, Traction, and Temperature Grades

Manufacturers use a grading system to communicate the tire’s treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance:

  • Treadwear: A three-digit number representing the tire’s durability compared to a reference tire. So note: a higher number indicates better tread life.
  • Traction: Graded from AA to C, this rating reflects the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement. So note: AA is the highest rating.
  • Temperature: Graded from A to C, this indicates the tire’s resistance to heat buildup. So note: a higher grade suggests better temperature resistance.

These grades provide insights into the tire’s overall performance and longevity.

DOT Code and Manufacturing Date

The Department of Transportation (DOT) code on the sidewall reveals valuable information about the tire’s origin and age. For example, the DOT code starts with the letters “DOT” followed by a series of numbers and letters. And the last four digits represent the manufacturing date; the first two indicates the week and the last two indicates the year. For instance, a code ending in “0519” means the tire was manufactured in the fifth week of 2019.

Gain valuable insights into your tire’s size, performance, and manufacturing details. by deciphering the information on it’s sidewall.

Armed with your tire’s sidewall information, you can make informed decisions when purchasing new tires. However, should you need help or confirmation about what you are reading, Tracy’s Tire Pros is here for you.  Because they always want to ensure your tires meet the specific needs of your vehicle and driving conditions.

Tracy’s Tire Pros will always help you understand the “language” of car repair. And they have three locations for your convenience:  West Maple Street auto care and auto repair, East First Street N. and West 21st Street N. And, Tracy’s Automotive is a proud dealer for Jasper Engines and Vogue Performance Exhaust systems.

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