How to read your tyre size

Look. We really want to make a joke about how tyre-ing it can get trying to understand all those markings on your tyre. But we’re all better than that, so we’ll leave it.

To the untrained eye, the seemingly random series of numbers and letters on your tyre won’t mean anything. However, these markings actually define key elements of your tyre and it’s worth understanding what they all mean. 

Here’s everything you need to know. 

How to read your car tyre label

Let’s take a tyre with the markings 205 55 R16 91W. To understand exactly what this mysterious looking code means, we’ve broken it down into a simple table. 

You’ll also find a smaller combination of numbers and letters next to the main tyre label. This code reveals further information about the tyre, including the date it was made, whether the tyres have been reinforced, which car manufacturer the tyres are best suited for, and whether they run flat. 

Now that we know what each element of the code stands for, we can talk about what these numbers and letters actually mean.

What is the tyre size?

The tyre size is represented by a sequence of eight digits. For the tyre we’re looking at, this means the tyre size you need is 205 55 R16. 

Tyres are definitely not ‘one size fits all’ and not all tyres will be well-suited to your vehicle.If you need to replace your tyres, this information is key and should be double-checked in your vehicle handbook before you buy anything.

What is the tyre speed rating?

The tyre speed rating can be found at the end of the tyre label in the form of a letter. This letter represents the maximum speed that the tyres could safely reach. Obviously, it should go without saying that before, however, these speed limits should never be reached when you’re on the road. 

What is a tyre load rating?

While the speed rating shows the maximum speed a tyre can reach, the tyre load rating shows the maximum weight that each tyre can carry.

This information is vital, as going over the load capacity can significantly impact your driving, invalidate your insurance, and even cause damage to your car. That’s a lose-lose-lose if ever we’ve seen one.

If your tyres have the word ‘reinforced’ printed on the sidewall, or another combination of letters near the tyre label, they have been reinforced to carry extra weight. This increased load rating can vary depending on the manufacturer. Here’s what these reinforced combinations mean. 

Hopefully, that makes those tyre hieroglyphics – or tyroglyphics as we’ll now call them – a little simpler to understand. 

Talking of things being simple, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to find and fit the right tyres for your vehicle. Simply enter your registration number here, and we’ll do the rest.