Understanding the Tire Rating System

One of the keys to safer driving is utilizing good automotive tires inflated to their factory specifications. Depending on whether someone owns a light truck, a commuter car, or a specialty car, there are numerous designations that give tires their ratings that indicate their proper use.

car tire

car tire

Properly used tires are good not only for driver and vehicle safety but for good insurance rates as well. If someone compares insurance rates between Maine and North Caroline, one thing that they will find is that insurance premiums for drivers in those and other states are often lower for people who pay attention to their tires. Properly inflated tires create less wear and tire on a car and cost drivers less in gas.

When looking at tires, the individual will see that tires contain quite a bit more information than just their maximum and minimum inflation. Understanding that information can make the trip to a tire store or automotive shop less archaic than it needs to be.

Tire ratings are governed by standards that have been established and maintained by two organizations. One is in Europe and deals with tires for European cars and trucks, and the other is in the United States.

That organization is called the Tire and Rim Organization, and they help tire manufacturers insure that their tires meet the required standards. They also work through several transportation agencies in the federal government to ensure that safety standards are met for the protection of consumers.

A casual examination of a typical tire will reveal a row of letters and numbers along the center of the tire. Sometimes there will be additional information either close to the rim of the tire in smaller print or along the edge of the tire.

Those positions depend on the manufacturer, but the main row of letters and numbers is fairly standard across all tires and gives the consumer the essential information that it needs to know about the tires dimensions and load limitations.

Some of the ratings can be very complex especially in the case of commercial tractor-trailer tires, with information about traction, tread wear, and temperature resistance all listed on the tire. Most tire sizes are given in the metric system.

For the average consumer, they need only be concerned with certain information. The first thing that a consumer will see on the main row of letters and numbers on a tire is a letter designation. These can be the letter P, LT, ST, and T. Respectively, they stand for passenger, indicating a passenger car; light truck; special trailer; and temporary.

A temporary designation is given for the spare tire designed for temporary use. Following these letters is a three-digit number that indicates the width of the tire. This is expressed in millimeters. Following this, there is a slash which separates the information, and this is followed by a letter B, D, or R.

This indicates the construction of the tire and whether it is a banded, diagonal, or radial belt tire. Finally, there is a two digit number that indicates the size of the wheel the tire is designed to fit, and a one or two digit combination that indicates its speed rating.

That, in a nutshell, is the information listed on a tire. It is fairly easy for the average consumer to understand and should aid anyone in finding the right tire for their car.

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