Tire Identification

April 29th, 2016

Explanation of tire codes

Tire identification diagram

The alpha-numeric tire code consists of a string of letters and numbers, as follows:

  • An optional letter (or letters) indicating the intended use or vehicle class for the tire:
    • P: Passenger Car
    • LT: Light Truck
    • ST: Special Trailer
    • T: Temporary (restricted usage for "Space-Saver" spare wheels)
  • Use of the letter P indicates that the tire is engineered to TRA standards and absence of a letter indicates that the tire is engineered to ETRTO standards. In practice, the standards of the two organizations have evolved together and are virtually interchangeable.
  • 3 digit number: The "nominal section width" of the tire in millimeters; the widest point from both outer edges.
  • /: Slash character for character separation.
  • 2 or 3 digit number: The "aspect ratio" of the sidewall height to the total width of the tire, as a percentage.
  • An optional letter indicating construction of the fabric carcass of the tire:
    • B: bias belt (where the sidewalls are the same material as the tread, leading to a rigid ride)
    • D: diagonal
    • R: radial
  • 2 digit number: Diameter in inches of the wheel that the tires are designed to fit. There is the rare exception metric diameter tires, such as the use of the 390 size, which in this case would indicate a wheel of 390 mm in diameter. Few tires are made to this size presently.

Example: tire labeled: P195/55R16 85H

  • P — these tires are for a passenger vehicle. However "P" denotes P-metric size load and speed rating changes for P tire & non-P tires.
  • 195 — the nominal width of the tire is approximately 195 mm at the widest point
  • 55 — indicates that the height of the sidewall of the tire is 55% of the width (107 mm)
  • R — this is a radial tire
  • 16 — this tire fits 16 in (410 mm) wheels
  • 85 — the load index, a maximum of 515 kg (1,140 lb) per tire in this case
  • H — the speed index, this means the maximum permitted speed, here 210 km/h (130 mph).
  Posted in: Tire Basics