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How to read a tyre: understanding markings

Have you ever wondered what all those numbers and letters stamped on the tyre sidewall mean? Find out how to easily decipher them: tyre sizes, speed rating, load index and other markings will no longer hold any secrets for you!

Tyre size

The brand, model and size of a tyre are always indicated on its sidewall. Take the example of this winter tyre, the Bridgestone Blizzak, on which you can see the following marking: 205 55 R 16 91 T Here’s the breakdown:

205

tyre width in millimetres

55

ratio between the sidewall height and the tyre width as a %

R

tyre structure (most tyres available have R for radial)

16

rim diameter in inches

91

load index

T

speed rating

Load index

The Load Index indicates the maximum weight a tyre can carry at its maximum speed. In the following table, you will find the maximum weight per tyre in kilograms for each load index.

Tyre load index

Maximum load in kg

Tyre load index

Maximum load in kg

75

387

101

825

76

400

102

850

77

412

103

875

78

425

104

900

79

437

105

925

80

450

106

950

81

462

107

975

82

475

108

1000

83

487

109

1030

84

500

110

1060

85

515

111

1090

86

530

112

1120

87

545

113

1150

88

560

114

1180

89

580

115

1215

90

600

116

1250

91

615

117

1285

92

630

118

1320

93

650

119

1360

94

670

120

1400

95

690

121

1450

96

710

122

1500

97

730

123

1550

98

750

124

1600

99

775

125

1650

100

800

126

1700

Speed rating

The Speed Rating indicates the maximum speed the tyre is capable of reaching. The following table shows the maximum speed in miles per hour and kilometres per hour for each speed rating.

Tyre speed rating

Maximum speed in mph

Maximum speed in km/h

Q

99

160

R

106

170

S

112

180

T

118

190

U

124

200

H

130

210

V

149

240

ZR

>149

>240

W

168

270

Y

186

300

You can also refer to the following load index and speed rating tables

Technical markings

On the tyre’s sidewall, you can also find some technical information. For example on winter tyres you will usually see the M+S marking (Mud and Snow) which is mandatory for snow tyres in some countries. You might also see the 3PMSF marking (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake) represented by a snowflake inside 3 mountain peaks. This label provides a guarantee of high winter performance.

Markings can also be found on some high performance tyres specially developed for top of the range models from car manufacturers such as Porsche or Mercedes. In this case, a marking on the sidewall indicates the manufacturer’s approval or ‘homologation’.

Some technical markings apply to all tyre brands, others are manufacturer specific.

Markings common to all tyre brands

M + S

 

Copyright © rezulteo

Mud + Snow marking, specific to winter, 4x4 and all season tyres, indicating good grip performance on soft ground (snow, mud)

3PMSF

 

 

Copyright © By-Oregon-Department-of-Transportation-commons.wikimedia.org

Symbol stamped on tyres that are specially designed for driving in snow and difficult winter conditions, it comprises a snow flake and a three peak mountain (“Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake”) 

RF or Reinforced

(XL, Extraload or Reinforced)

 

Tyre with a higher load index, suitable for heavy vehicles such as people carriers, estate cars, large saloons or vans.

TL or Tubeless

Tubeless-marking-Michelin

Copyright © Michelin

 

Tyre with an inner liner integrated inside the tyre, which therefore does not require an air chamber.

TT or Tube Type

 

Tyre requiring the use of an air chamber

TWI

 

Tread Wear Indicator

MO

 

Mercedes fitment

N0/N1/N2...

 

Porsche fitment

M3

 

BMW M3

R01

 

Audi

*

Star-BMW-marking

Copyright © BMW

 

BMW Approval

J

 

Jaguar

G1

 

Original equipment on certain vehicles (C6, Laguna 2, Espace 4…)

B

 

Bentley or Audi

C1

 

Chrysler Viper

F or K1

 

Ferrari

S8

 

Lexus RX300

AMS

 

Aston Martin

OWL

 

Outline White Letter

ULW

 

Ultra light weight tyre construction

MFS

 

Max Flange Shield

RBL

 

Recessed Black Letter

WLT

Copyright © BFGoodrich

 

White Letter

RWL

 

Raised white lettering

FR

 

Flange rim protection

ML

 

Sidewall flange protection

FP

 

Rim protection

WW

 

White wall

RB

 

Black lettering

RW

 

White lettering

Some manufacturer specific markings

RFT

Runflat tyre

RW

Runflat tyre for Mercedes

SSR

Self-Supporting Runflat tyre

Vmax

Tyre designed for ultra-high performance saloon cars

ContiSeal

Technique that prevents air escaping from the tyre by means of a sealant layer that provides a seal around the object that caused the puncture.

ContiSilent

Technology that uses polyurethane foam to reduce the effects of tyre noise

FL

Front left tyre

FR

Front right tyre

Runonflat

Runflat tyre

Noise Shield

Technology using polyurethane foam to reduce interior vehicle noise 

EMT or ROF

Runflat tyre

SoundComfort

Technology using polyurethane foam to reduce interior vehicle noise

Zp

Zero pressure runflat tyre

Green X

Green tyre offering a high level of energy efficiency in terms of fuel consumption, wear and wet grip.

Run flat

Runflat tyre

Allroad

Audi allroad

Seal Inside

Tyre structure that allows you to drive without losing air pressure even after a puncture.

Regulation markings: DOT, UTQG…

Finally, in some countries specific markings are required by law.

In Europe, passenger car tyres are subject to a noise regulation. An approval number stamped on the tyre (e.g: E2 02-03 527) certifies compliance with this regulation.

The United States requires the following two markings:

The DOT code (Department of Transportation)

The DOT code means that the tyre complies with the safety standards set by the American Department of Transportation. In particular, it indicates where the tyre was produced and its date of manufacture.

UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) marking

When buying tyres, the UTQG marking aims to help consumers assess the performance of various models on the basis of 3 criteria:

  • Treadwear: Tread wear grade (score between 60 and 620)
  • Traction: Traction grade on wet roads (grade from A to C, where A is the highest grade and C the minimum acceptable)
  • Temperature : Temperature grade (grade from A to C, where C is the legal minimum)

UTQG ratings are based on each manufacturer’s own assessment. Therefore they do not allow tyres from different brands to be compared with each other. If you want to assess the performance of a tyre, it is best to refer to the tyre label and our rezulteo ratings, which are based on test results conducted by tyre industry experts.

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