What the Numbers on Tires Mean and Why It Matters

Have you ever wondered what the numbers and letters on the side of your tires mean? Tires come in all shapes and sizes and specialize in different terrain types. From different compounds to tire styles, the right tire is available for you.

As such, tires come in different sizes, which can be derived from the numbers on your sidewall. Starting from how it’s derived, here’s how tire sizes work.

Differences in Tire Size

Since no size fits all, tire sizes are referred to in this format: 235/35/19.

Starting from the left, the first number in the group is how wide the tire is in terms of millimeters. Following the width is the middle number, which represents how tall the tire’s sidewall is. Presumably, those with trucks and SUVs will have larger sidewalls than those with sedans and sports cars and vice versa. Lastly, the final number in the group is to represent the diameter of the wheel. Of course, your tire size will vary depending on your vehicle type.

Load and Speed Ratings

Apart from different compounds and different tire sizes, another rating that tire companies provide you with is the speed rating of the tire. This is determined by the number phrase as shown: 96W. The “96” represents the tire’s max load, and the W is the speed rating. Each tire’s speed rating can be determined by the information on the chart as shown. This isn’t exactly important to most people on the road since every speed limit tends to be far below the tire’s maximum threshold. However, those with performance and track days in their future should highly consider the quality of the rubber they use.

Of course, while the speed limit is below the threshold, speed limits exist for other reasons, and you shouldn’t put this to the test on the open road.

Tread vs. Treadwear

From trailers to passenger vehicles, each tire has its own purpose and composition to maximize its efficiency during use. Thus, winter tires contain softer rubber compounds to adapt to colder climates. Similarly, track tires also consist of softer rubber compounds to provide maximum grip to the asphalt.

The treadwear rating on a tire is just as important as the compound. Treadwear ratings range from 100 to 500, with the larger numbers indicating longer-lasting tires. This is different from the tread of the tire, which merely refers to the pattern on it. The treads on tires are specially engineered, and manufacturers often make revisions to their popular models to perfect their craft through vigorous testing.

How Old Are Your Tires?

Every tire manufactured has its manufacturing date printed on the tire. The important thing here is the last four digits in the series, as indicated above. The first two digits represent the week, and the last two represent the year. This allows you to identify the manufacturing period of your tires. Since rubber dry rots over time, this ensures the rubber on your wheels is up-to-date.

From gasoline-powered to electric vehicles, each tire has its own purpose and composition to maximize its efficiency during use.

General Tips for Longer-Lasting Tires

Regardless of the type of tire or vehicle you have, there are a few things to consider to maximize their life. Inadequate or varying tire pressure can cause vibrations, uneven wear, and even poor driving characteristics. This makes periodic wheel alignments imperative, as improper toe or camber adjustments can exponentially kill the tread on your new set of tires. Having a good set of tires is important, as it maximizes the efficiency of the stability programs on your vehicle.

Quality Rubber Is Important, No Matter the Car

Evidently, tires conform to surfaces the best when they are paired with the right tire. Whether you’re looking for a winter set or summer set of tires, it is important to check the tire size and style to best suit your driving needs.

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