What Do Tire Numbers Mean?

If you’ve ever taken a close look at your car’s tires, you may have noticed that each one is marked with a string of numbers and letters. This “tire number” provides lots of information about the tire — including its size, type, and performance purpose. So, what do tire numbers mean, and how do you interpret them?

Whether you change your car tires yourself or schedule tire change service at a Apex-area service center, knowing how to decode tire numbers makes it much easier to find the new tires you need. Learn more with the guide below from Hendrick Dodge Cary, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any further questions about FIAT, Dodge, Ram tire care!

Determining Tire Number Meanings

Each letter and number in a tire code describes an attribute of the tire — from size, load index, and speed rating, to the type of tire your vehicle requires for maximum performance. So, what do the numbers on tires mean on their own? Below, we’ll break down a sample tire number into its composite parts, and show you how to interpret tire number meaning step-by-step. We’ll be decoding this tire number as an example: P215/65R15 95H

That may look like a random string of digits, but it’s actually a code that tells you everything you need to know about a tire! To determine the tire number meaning, we’ll look at each piece of the code individually:

  • P – First comes the tire type, which tells you what type of vehicle the tire is intended for. “P” stands for the “P-Metric” tires used on passenger vehicles, while a tire number that begins with “LT” indicates a tire for light-duty trucks and large SUVs. European (or Euro-Metric) tires have different load capacities, so their tire codes don’t include a letter at the start.
  • 215 – This three-digit number represents the tire width from sidewall to sidewall in millimeters, which tells you that the tire in our example has a width of 215 millimeters.
  • 65 – Next you’ll see a forward slash, followed by a two-digit number. In our example, “65” is the tire’s cross-section height to width, known as the aspect ratio code. In other words, this tire’s height is equal to 65% of its width.
  • R – The following letter stands for tire construction. The “R” in our example indicates a radial tire, the most commonly used automotive tire. Other types include bias or solid/diagonal tires.
  • 15 – The following two-digit number specifies the proper wheel diameter for this tire, in inches. In our example, the tire requires a 15-inch wheel.
  • 95 – This two-digit number is the load index, a value that corresponds to the maximum weight that a tire can bear when properly inflated. The value of “95” tells you that this tire has a load carrying capacity of up to 1,521 pounds.
  • H – The final letter in the tire code represents the speed rating, or the maximum speed at which this tire can be driven when properly inflated. Speed ratings range from A (up to 3 mph) to Z (149 mph and over). A speed rating of H means that this tire may be driven safely at speeds of up to 130 mph.

How to Check Tire Pressure

Tire number meanings don’t mean much if your tires aren’t properly inflated! Fortunately, checking tire pressure is a breeze if your vehicle is equipped with a TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System. You’ll receive an automatic notification if your tires are over- or under-inflated. Even without a TPMS, you can check your tire pressure in just a few minutes at any Carrboro-area gas station. If your tires need air, you can use the gas station’s air pump or stop by a FIAT, Dodge, Ram service center.

Rely on Hendrick Dodge Cary for Your Tire Service Needs

At Hendrick Dodge Cary, we’re proud to offer fair prices and phenomenal service to drivers across Chapel Hill. Stop by for expert tips on tire tread depth and tire rotation, or contact us to schedule your next tire service today!

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