How to Choose the Right Tyres for your Car: Tyre Markings Explained
When it comes to buying tyres for your car, finding the correct type to buy can be confusing to say the least. There are a number of factors that you need to consider when buying tyres to ensure that you get the best possible choice for your vehicle. By choosing the wrong tyres, you could be wasting a considerable amount of money, not to mention you can be putting yourself and other road users in danger. This article will look at the key points to consider when buying tyres for your car, to give you a better understanding and help you make the right choice.
You will find the tyre markings on the sidewall of your tyres and these are indicators of what replacements you need to look for. They consist of letters and numbers, detailing the measurements and specifications of the tyre.
Navigate to the relevant section about tyre markings:
• Tyre size
On the tyre sidewall, you’ll find the letters and digits which stand for specific measurements and ratings that your tyre is designed to meet. All tyres conform to this standard, and though most motorists won’t understand the markings at first, they are easy to comprehend with a little guidance. Here are the above markings decoded for you:
• 205 – Tyre width in millimetres
• 55 – Tyre sidewall profile. This means the height of the tyre side as a percentage of its width
• R – Radial (standard for all tyres now, previously they were cross-ply)
• 16 – Wheel rim diameter (inches)
• Speed rating
The speed rating must be equal to or more than the top speed of your car.
In the example given below V equals 149mph.
As mentioned above, the final initial on the sidewall is used in accordance with the top speed of your car. The keys are:
• S – 112mph
• T – 118mph
• U – 125mph
• H – 130mph
• V – 149mph
• W (ZR) – 168mph
• Y (ZR) – 186mph
• ZR – Above 149mph
• Load index
The amount of weight that a tyre can withstand is expressed as the ‘load index’. This is a numerical code found after the tyre size marking and before the speed rating.
It is advised by all tyre specialists that you do not fit tyres with a lower speed rating or load index than the manufacturer’s original tyre specification, or to use different tyre construction types on one vehicle. Consult your handbook to confirm the tyre speed ratings and the load index, as well as any other unique requirements.
Have a look at our table below to learn more about your tyre load index:
|Load index||Load in kg per tyre|
Use scrolling to see more
• Winter markings
This marking refers to the fact that this tyre is intended a ‘snow’ tyre but its performance in extreme winter conditions are untested.
Three Peaks Mountain Snow Flake: Sometimes referred to as ‘3PMSF’, ‘Mountain and Snow Flake’ and ‘Three Peaked Mountain and Snowflake’ designate tyres that are tested for extreme snowy conditions. They will be found on M&S (Mud and Snow) tyres and are optimised for difficult winter conditions.
• Manufacturing information
You can also discover where and when the tyre was manufactured. This information is represented by the series of letters and numbers which begin ‘DOT’, which itself means the tyre exceeds standards set out by the Department of Transport Safety Standards.
The following 8 characters after ‘DOT’ are a manufacturer-produced serial number used to identify the facility in which the tyre was made.
The final four numbers, typically found within a square window, will allow you to identify the age of the tyre. The first two numbers are the week of the year in which the tyre was produced, from 1 to 52. The last two numbers represent the year. A tyre marked ‘1408’ was produced in the 14th week of 2008.
Over time, tyres age and this degradation process speeds up with unuse. If you have tyres over 6 years old fitted to your vehicle or are offered old tyres for sale, make sure to have them professionally checked over to guarantee they are roadworthy.
• Run flat
A run flat tyre has specially strengthened sidewalls which are capable of supporting the car’s weight should a sudden drop in pressure occur – such as when the tyre is punctured. Typically, a run flat tyre is perfectly safe running at 50mph for approximately 50 miles but should be checked by a tyre professional as soon as possible. The great news is, you’ll be able to drive straight to the tyre centre, rather than endure the hassle of switching to the spare wheel!
Uncertain whether you car has run flat tyres? Check the sidewalls for any of the markings listed below:
|EMT||Extended Mobility Technology||Goodyear|
|RFT||Run Flat Technology/Tyre||Pirelli, Firestone, Bridgestone|
|SSR||Self Supporting Run Flat||Continental|
|DSST||Dunlop Self Supporting Technology||Dunlop|
It is important that you get your tyres replaced when they start to wear, as worn down tyres lose their grip, which can affect the braking and handling of your car.
Here at Tyres Northampton we stock a wide range of tyres, from branded tyres to cheaper budget tyres, catering for the needs of all motorists. Whether you have a performance car or a 4×4 vehicle, our range ensures that you can get the perfect tyres for your car at excellent prices. Our team are highly skilled and knowledgeable in the fitting of tyres and we endeavour to complete all our work in an efficient, friendly and professional manner. For more information about our tyre fitting services, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.