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Decoding the side wall of your tire?

Reading the sidewall of a tire may seem like reading Greek to some.  But all of those numbers and letters on the side of tires have a very important message to tell. It’s not a secret code or hieroglyphics.  In order to describe what the sidewall is telling you, you need to know the different types of sizes, Metric and High Flotation.

The Metric size the side wall will read something like “P205/65R16”.  The “P” represents the tire’s class. “P” stands for passenger.  An “LT” is light truck. If there is no letter before the before the numbers, then it is a European metric tire.

The “205” would be the section width measured in millimeters from sidewall to sidewall.  This tire example would be 205mm.

“65” is the aspect ratio representing the height of the wall from the rim to the tread.  People also refer to this as the profile of the tire.

“R” is the construction of the tire, in this case being a Radial, which is the most common tire sold on the market today.

The Wheel Diameter is represented by the “16”. 

High Flotation sidewall is a little mixed up from Metric sized tires.  For example “35x1250 R 17/E”, the diameter is first, then width, construction, wheel diameter, plies.

The first number, “35”, is the diameter of the tire in inches.

The width, “1250” is indicated in inches, with the decimal removed, so this would be 12.5” wide.

The construction would be a Radial, represented by the “R”.

The letter “E” represents the Plies of the tire.  An “E” indicating the load carrying capacity of the tire being a 10-ply rating while a “D” is an 8-ply, “C” has a 6-ply rating.  If there tire doesn’t have a letter in this place, it’s a stand 4-ply.

The sidewall will have a number and a letter after the size dimensions, representing the load index and speed rating. Passenger cars usually range from 75 to 105.  The Speed rating is issued by the U.S. Government meeting minimum standard for reaching and sustaining a specific speed.  Higher the speed ratings, generally the better the vehicle handles.

You will also see the DOT marking indicating that the tire has met the U.S. department of Transportation’s safety standards. To the right of the DOT, you’ll find the manufacturing code and the DOT size code. To the right of the DOT information, you’ll find the brand characteristics, the manufacturing week and year.

It’s also important to locate the maximum load limit and Air Pressure information. This will tell you how much weight you should subject your vehicle to.  It’s also going to tell you how much air pressure you should have in you tires when you check it once a month!

Other interesting features are the ply construction details.  This tells you what materials were used in the construction and the quantity of each type.

We hope this short description helps “decode” the sidewall so that you can know more about what keeps you on the road!

If you would like for us to cover a particular topic or have a question about tires or auto care, submit your request/questions here, and if we choose your submission in our blog, you’ll receive a free oil change!

Free oil change will be given once monthly to the person that submitted the question that’s answered in the blog.  No purchase necessary.  Must be 18 years or older and a licensed driver. Not valid with any other offer.

Written on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by
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Bowen Tire is a pillar of the Owensboro, KY community. Bowen Tire is a leader in offering name brand tires, wheels, auto repair and brake services for customers located in and around the Owensboro, Kentucky area. Our goal is to focus on customer service. It is the foundation of our business. Bowen Tire employs a well-trained staff specializing in the sale and installation of passenger car, performance and light truck or SUV tires. Custom wheels are available at Bowen Tire. Special wheels and rims compliment any tire or customer vehicle. Complete under-car services, such as oil changes, brakes, shocks, struts, alignment, and transmission fluid flush for both foreign and domestic vehicles are readily available at competitive prices. Take this opportunity to browse Bowen Tire website or call us for personalized service.

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