Understanding Tyre Sizes, Markings and Profiles

Author Name – Louise Helsby

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Every tyre has sidewall markings, which shows you information about the tyre manufacturer, tyre range, size, load index, speed rating and age, but do you understand these?

Tyre size

The most important marking on your tyre is your tyre size and you will need to make sure that you order the correct size when replacing your tyres.

Below is an example: 205 55 16 96W.

how is my tyre size

What does each of the markings mean?

  • 205 is the width of your tyre, this is measured in millimeters (205mm)
  • 55 is the tyre’s profile or height, measured as a percentage of the overall tyre width
  • R indicates that it is a radial tyre
  • 16 is the diameter of the wheel rim, measured in inches (16”)
  • 96 is the load index (maximum tyre load capacity)
  • W indicates the speed rating (maximum approved tyre speed)

Other tyre markings

What do other tyre markings mean?

  • The tyre brand will be marked on your sidewall, for example, Pirelli
  • The tyre pattern, for example, P Zero
  • DOT code – indicates the age of the tyre, for example; 1820, this means the tyre was made in the 18th week of 2020
  • OE means the tyre was designed and fitted as original equipment when the car was manufactured

You may also notice other markings on your tyre, including direction markings on asymmetric tyres, as they need to be fitted the right way round and fitment codes such as M+S (Mud and Snow) and a snowflake (three-peak mountain symbol) to indicate winter tyres. Other fitment codes can include homologated tyres which have been specifically designed for particular vehicle makes i.e. N for Porsche fitments.

If in doubt, simply enter your vehicle registration in our tyre search box to find the tyres suitable for your vehicle.

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