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So, what exactly are the numbers on tyres, also known as tyre markings? The writing or markings on the rubber of your tyre is there for two main reasons:

  • To convey important information such as the size and specifications of the tyre

  • To prove that the tyre has passed necessary safety standards.

This information is presented as tyre signs and symbols – which can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for! Take a look at this helpful introduction to tyre markings and learn what your tyre is telling you.

What do the numbers on tyres mean?

This string of numbers (in the image 255/55 R16) indicates the size of the tyre. This is important as you will need to ensure that any tyres you fit to your vehicle are the correct size as specified in your vehicle handbook. These tyre numbers mean:

255 – Tyre Width

This indicates the width of the tyre in millimetres from sidewall to sidewall.

55 – Aspect Ratio

These digits express the height of the tyre sidewall expressed as a percentage of the tyre width. In this example, the tyre height is 55% of its width.

R – Tyre Construction

The letter ‘R’ indicates that the tyre is of radial construction, as most tyres manufactured today are. Other types of construction include ‘B’ (bias belt) and ‘D’ (diagonal).

16 – Wheel Diameter

This figure signifies the size of the wheel rim in inches that the tyre is intended to be fitted to.

More tyre symbols explained

Load Index

The load index is a numerical code, in the image represented by 105, and this refers to the maximum load that a tyre can carry. The load index is directly related to a weight in kilograms as displayed by the table below. In this example, the load index of the tyre is 105 so the maximum load it can carry is 925kg.

Load Index Kilograms Load Index Kilograms Load Index Kilograms
65 290 80 450 95 690
66 300 81 462 96 710
67 307 82 475 97 730
68 315 83 487 98 750
69 325 84 500 99 775
70 335 85 515 100 800
71 345 86 530 101 825
72 355 87 545 102 850
73 365 88 560 103 875
74 375 89 580 104 900
75 387 90 600 105 925
76 400 91 615 106 950
77 412 92 630 107 975
78 425 93 650 108 1000
79 437 94 670

Tyre load capacity

This number gives you an indication of the maximum load your tyres can handle. This is especially important to know if you are loading your car with heavier items. You can find the tyre labelling on the sidewall of your tyre. Look for a two-to-three-digit number which indicates the tyre load capacity.

Speed Rating

The speed rating is displayed by a letter, in the example ‘V’, and this indicates the maximum speed that a tyre can service when carrying its maximum load. The speed rating letter relates to speed expressed in miles or kilometres per hour, as displayed by the table below. In this example, the speed rating of the tyre is ‘V’ – so the maximum speed is 149 mph, or 240 km/h.

Speed Symbol Approx MPH Approx KM/H
Q 99 160
R 106 170
S 112 180
T 118 190
H 131 210
V 149 240
VR 131 210
W 168 270
Y 186 300
ZR 149 240

1. Brand Name

The brand who manufactured the tyre will be displayed clearly. This is often the largest piece of writing on the tyre.

2. Pattern Name

Tyre manufacturers produce different tyres that have different patterns. The pattern of your tyre will be displayed clearly on the tyre sidewall.

3. Country of Manufacture

Where your tyre was manufactured will be indicated by the writing on the sidewall. In this example, the tyre was manufactured in the United Kingdom.

4. Tread Wear Indicators

Tread wear indicators will be situated in the grooves of the tyre rather than on the tyre sidewall. They may be in the form of the letters ‘TWI’, a small image or logo or other markings. These will only be visible when the tyre tread is close to approaching the legal minimum of 1.6mm. Not all tyres have tread wear indicators – so it is important that you frequently check your tyre tread depth.

5. Manufacturing Date Code

Displayed as a string of numbers and letters (which looks something like DOTXXXXXXXX1017) is information about when your tyre was manufactured. The last four numbers relate to the date of manufacture, so you can identify the age of your tyre. In this example, the date code is 1017 which would mean that the tyre was manufactured in the 10th week of 2017.

6. European ECE Type Approval

This indicates that the tyre has been tested and passed European safety standards. The digit following the E is a code that relates to country in which the tyre was approved. In this example, E11 means that the tyre was approved in the United Kingdom.

For further advice and guidance on the tyre markings and what they mean, contact our friendly team - our tyre experts are always happy to help. Alternatively, you can find one of our nearby tyre branches to access a range of services. Here, you can buy tyres, car batteries, book an MOT and more motoring services.


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