by: Adam Lenk
If you're like most of us,
or maybe I should say if you're like me, the way
you choose what new tires you should purchase
for your car is by reading the label on the side
of your existing car tires. After comparing the
prices of the compatible tires with the amount
of money in your tire budget, then a choice can
be made. But is it the right choice? I mean, if
you have no idea what the label on your tire
means or what you are purchasing, you could
really be leaving out a whole new world of tire
Okay, a typical car tire
label reads something like this "P185/60R 14
82H." In this little car label "sentence" there
is a wealth of information. But it doesn't do
you any good if you haven't the slightest idea
of what it all means. So, if you're like me,
this guide to car tire language can come in
quite handy on your next trip to the automotive
The first letter on the
tire label indicates what type of vehicle the
tire is intended for: P is for passenger car, LT
is for light truck, and T is for your temporary
or spare tire.
The numbers immediately
following, "185" in this label, is the section
width of the tire in millimeters. Shorter or
narrower tires have lower numbers.
The numbers immediately
following the slash indicate the tire's aspect
ratio, which is translated as the section height
as percentage of the section width. In lay's
terms, this tire's height is 60 percent of its
width. Performance tires would have a lower
number in this space.
The next letter stands for
the tire's type. In this case, "R" stands for
radial. The 14 immediately following is the
wheel rim diameter in inches.
The next number in the
label, "82," stand for the tire's load index.
According to the Maximum Load-Carrying Capacity
chart, a set of four of these tires could safely
support a vehicle weighing 4,188 pounds.
The final letter stands
for the amount of traveling speeds that the tire
is capable of sustaining safely under optimal
driving conditions. "The speed ratings are S for
up to 112 mph, H for up to 130 mph, V for up to
150 mph, Z for 150 mph+. At high speeds, the
tire can get very hot and the tread can separate
from the belts. The speed ratings tell you how
fast you can go and still be safe.
When selecting tires for
your car or motorcycle you should also pay
attention to some other tire qualities which may
effect your car or motorcycles performance or
the durability of your tires. While the most
important considerations for you to consider
when purchasing new tires will be the tread
type, size and mileage warranty, do not hesitate
to ask questions if your dealer uses a term that
you are unfamiliar with.
After all, it's your money
and you want the safest most durable tires for
your dollar. Most of the tire size and speed
ratings are the same for car and motorcycle
tires but always refer to your owners manual.