Last Updated: Dec 1, 2018

How To Read Tire Numbers? Everything You Need To Know

  • BY Nick Bulanda

    Published December 1, 2018

Knowing how to read tire numbers is key to getting the right sized tire and so much more.
Knowing how to read tire numbers is key to getting the right sized tire and so much more.

How To Read Tire Numbers Explained

Across the country, consumers neglect the tires on their vehicle. For instance, experts recommend tire rotations every six months. This is the equivalent of nearly every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. If you have not properly rotated your tires as of late, relax. You are certainly not alone. However, you must learn how to take care of your tires to get the best results. Furthermore, customers need helpful tire information to buy the right tires. As a result, we have created a how to guide on how to read tire numbers!

Have you ever looked at the numbers on a tire in utter confusion? Not everyone is an automotive expert or a mechanic. As a matter of fact, most Americans prefer to let experts work on their cars and tires. But, you should still learn all about tire numbers and what they represent. After all, these numbers are much more important than you might expect. The tire sidewall does more than just protect the tire integrity and structure. A tire sidewall has important numbers you can use to get the right tire size. Read the how to guide below and then learn how to read tire numbers today!

Tire sidewall numbers help customers determine the size of their tires. Use this information to buy the right sized tires!
Tire sidewall numbers help customers determine the size of their tires. Use this information to buy the right sized tires!

How To Read Tire Numbers: Sidewall Numbers

The numbers and letters on a tire sidewall indicate the tire size. For instance, numbers usually look like this: 245/45/R17. No, you do not need a translator for this sequence of numbers and letters. Instead, this sequence of characters is rather simple to understand. It helps to break down this sequence bit by bit to really interpret the meanings. Thus, before you begin to learn how to read tire numbers. You have to start by breaking apart these tire numbers!

Now, some tires have a letter before their numbers. According to Bridgestone Tire, this letter represents the type of tire. If there is a P, then this represents P-metric. The Tire and Rim Associations designate the P for a passenger car tire style. This means that it is a tire for SUVs, minivans, and more. In some cases, these tires can even be put on lightweight trucks. On the other hand, there may be an LT in front of the numbers which stands for LT-metric. Thus, these LT tires are best for pulling trailers or carrying heavy cargo!

Knowing how to read tire numbers is a huge deal. Even knowing how to read the letters is important. Therefore, customers need to pay attention to the following number of information. Now, we are going to use the sequence from before for reference: 245/45/R17. So pay attention to this number moving forward.

Tire Width

The first number after the letter represents the tire width. The tire width measurement is done in millimeters from one sidewall to another sidewall. These first three digits, 245, is the millimeter measurement and represents the tire width. Pay attention to the first three digits if you want the best tire width for your driving experience.

Aspect Ratio

According to Goodyear Tire, the ratio of the height of the tire’s cross-section to the width. You will see a two-digit number after the first slash. For instance, in 245/45/R17/, the “45” after the first slash is the aspect ration. This means that the height of the tire is 45% to the tire’s width. A bigger aspect ratio should come with a bigger tire sidewall. Keep an eye out for this proper aspect ratio to ensure you get the best tire. Knowing how to read tire number is incredibly helpful.

Do not let tire sidewall numbers confuse you. Use this information to learn how to read tire numbers.
Do not let tire sidewall numbers confuse you. Use this information to learn how to read tire numbers.

Construction

In the example, 245/45/R17, there is the letter R. This letter specifically represents the layers run radially across the tire. Therefore, the R in this example stands for Radial. Simply put, this means that the lines are arranged 90 degrees to the direction of travel. Radial tires are the most commonly used tires in the United States. As a matter of fact, it dominates the current tire market across the country. Therefore, customers should keep an eye out for the letter R.

How To Read Tire Numbers: Extra Letters

Now, there may be some extra letters on the sidewall of your tire. Do not fret. This is the easiest part of learning how to read tire numbers. The Department of Transportation, or DoT, regulates the transportation industry. Thus, they uphold safety guidelines and restrictions to protect customers. If you see this DoT, then your tires are Department of Transportation approved. This guarantees that these tires are road legal and safe for your use. All tires approved by the Department of Transportation require this stamp. As a result, you should always keep an eye out for the DoT approval letters!

Last Words On Knowing How To Read Tire Numbers

Drivers need to learn about their tire numbers and all other tire information. If you properly maintain tires, you improve your daily driving experience. Do not let bad tires ruin your day or damper your driving experience. Instead, just monitor the tires every day after long drives. If you take the time to check your odometer than you can see the mileage from week to week. Furthermore, reading tire numbers is just as important. If not, you could end up buying the wrong sized tires or the wrong type of tires.

Tire information is complex at first glance. However, it only takes a few drops of information to dispel any confusion. Within moments, you can easily learn the meanings of all the numbers on a tire sidewall. Use this information to evaluate tires at your local tire store and more. Knowing how to read tire numbers can help you make the right decision. Look back over any of this information if you need extra help!

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