TIRES SIZES Learn what they mean
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 options.

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 department.

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 motorcyle tires but always refer to your owners manual.

Adam Lenk

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