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How Do I Read My Tires?

Welcome, and thanks for visiting the Burke Centre Automotive Resource Center with video tips about vehicle maintenance to keep your car safe and at peak performance. Our goal is to help you make the best decision about car maintenance options to assure you, your family, and your passengers are safe...

Every vehicle eventually needs new tires. Before you buy you need decipher the alphanumeric tire code manufactured into every tire sidewall to select the best tires for your vehicle, driving habits and climate. The sidewall displays the tire manufacturer, series and model plus unique information about the construction and specifications for that particular tire.

If a tire code begins with a letter it is measured in U.S. standards - "P" or "P-metric," for passenger car, "LT" for light truck, "ST" for special trailer and "T" for temporary spare. If a tire code starts with a number it is "euro-metric," with European specifications. The first set of three numbers in every tire code is the width in millimeters - the total area of road surface contact. The next two-digits are the aspect ratio - tire height divided by width. The letter "R" follows if the tire has radial construction. Otherwise, the final double-digit number is the wheel rim diameter in inches.

Some manufacturers include three optional characters. Known as the Service Description, two numbers represent the load index followed by a letter indicating the maximum speed rating. Since 1991 Service Descriptions are required by law on all speed rated tires except high-performance Z-rated tires.

Manufacturers have recently included UTQG ratings for tread wear, wet traction and temperature resistance in an attempt to provide standardized data for consumers to compare like qualities in individual tires.

Regardless of their condition, tire industry experts recommend replacing any tire over six years old. The tire specialists at the Burke Centre Automotive Tire Center are here for you. We decipher tire codes, help you select and install the right tires for your vehicle, and get you safely back on the road in no time.