TechTalk tyres

Published on August 24th, 2022 | by Sounder Rajen


Understanding Your Tyres Made Easy

We’ve all seen the numbers and letters along our tyres, but what do they mean?


So you’ve been staring at your tyres wondering just what those seemingly random numbers and letters mean, well fret not, because here is a quick and easy guide to understanding your tyres.

First things first, these letters and numbers on your tyre sidewalls are not random. They actually provide very valuable information about your tyres such as the specification, brand and type of construction.

Moreover, these numbers are standardized and are universally recognized by tyre manufacturers. This is why although the numbers and letters may be different in some tyres, the general arrangement of these numbers and letters is mostly similar.

So basically these letters and numbers represent what type of vehicle the tyre should be used for, the section width of the tyre in millimeters, the aspect ratio of the tyre (essentially it is a percentage showing the height of the tyre in relation to the width of the tyre), the diameter of the rim, the load index and the speed rating of the tyre.


For those wondering what a load index is, it basically represents the load capacity the tyre can take and as for the speed rating, it represents the maximum speed the tyre can support on a moving vehicle. These factors are interdependent on one another and the first picture should help make it easier to understand.

For a quick explanation, we will take the same alphanumerics on the tyre in the aforementioned image as an example, which is P 185 / 70 R14 88 T.

The “P” shows that this tyre is meant for passenger vehicles, P for passenger. Meanwhile the number 185 is the width of the tyre in millimeters. Next, the number 70 is the aspect ratio, in this case, the percentage of the width of the tyre to work out its height.


On top of that, the letter ‘R” represents the type of material used to make the tyre, in this case it is a Radial tyre, R for radial. Additionally, the number 14 represents the diameter of the rim in inches, when you read a write up about a car and come across the “21-inch rims or 15-inch rims,” this is what we mean.

And before we reach the finish line, the number “88” represents the load capacity which is the maximum amount of weight each tyre can individually carry. Lastly, the letter “T.” This shows the speed rating of the tyre and is represented by letters from J to Y with J being the slowest at 100km/h and Y being the fastest at 300km/h.


And, that’s a wrap. We hope this helps and that you learned something valuable from this. So the next time someone looks blankly at their tyres, you can help them out by explaining to them what the letters and numbers represent.

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