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A tire’s sidewall is simply the outer and inner “walls” on the sides of a tire. Every sidewall has its own unique information that is divided into three main sections:
This describes the fundamental characteristics of your tire. Size, construction, speed rating and more.
This designates the type of vehicle the tire fits. P is for passenger metric. Other letters are LT (light truck), T (temporary spare) and ST (special trailers). If your tire has no letter, this signifies a Euro “metric” size. P-metric and Euro-metric tires in the same size are equivalent in their dimensions but may have slight differences in load capacity and inflation pressure recommendations.
Also called Section Width, this is the width of the tire (or thickness) in millimeters, if measured from a tire’s widest point of its outer sidewall to the widest point of its inner sidewall. Why millimeters? It originated in Europe, which uses the metric system.
This identifies the tire’s aspect ratio, which is the relationship of the tire’s sidewall height to the tire’s width. In this example, the sidewall height of the tire is 55% of its width. The lower the ratio, the smaller the sidewall height, which means better cornering, but a rougher ride.
This is the tire’s internal construction, which is “radial.” Almost every tire on the road has radial construction, which means the cords of the carcass plies inside the tire “radiate” directly across from one side of the tire to the other. Other letters used are D, for diagonal construction, and B, for belted.
This number (in inches) indicates that the tire is designed to fit on a wheel with a 18-inch diameter.
This indicates how much weight the tire is certified to carry at maximum safe inflation. It doesn’t mean 97 pounds, because it’s actually an assigned value that corresponds with its “actual” load capacity found on a load index chart. If you look up 97 on the chart, you’ll find 1, 609 pounds.
This indicates the maximum safe speed at which a tire is certified to carry a load under specified conditions. Speed ratings range from A (lowest) to Y (highest), with one exception: H falls between U and V. Exceeding the lawful speed limit is neither recommended or endorsed.
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