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Tire load index & speed symbols

3 min read time

We’ve deciphered all those details on your tire sidewalls.

Federal law dictates that tire manufacturers place standardized information on the sidewalls. The information (letters and numbers) identifies and describes basic tire characteristics and also provides a safety standard certification in case of a recall.

What does it all mean?

Let’s use P215/65R15 95H M+S as an example.

  • P

P indicates the tire is for a passenger car. (LT would be for a light truck and N would be for a spare tire.)

  • 215

This is the width of the tire in millimeters from sidewall edge to sidewall edge. 

  • 65

65 is the aspect ratio, which designates the tire's ratio of height to width. Numbers 70 or lower indicate a short sidewall for improved steering response and better overall handling on dry pavement.

  • R

R stands for radial, as in radial ply construction, which has been the industry standard for the past 20 years.

  • 15

The tire’s rim diameter is 15 inches, meaning your replacement tire should also have a 15-inch diameter.

  • 95

The number 95 designates the load index, which tells you how much weight each tire can support. In this case, the tire can support 1,521 pounds. This information is available in the owner’s manual. Not all tires will have a load index because it’s not a requirement.

  • H

H is the speed rating. It denotes the speed a tire can handle for extended periods of time. The ratings range from 99 mph to 186 mph. You may not find this information on all tires because federal law does not require it. You should never exceed posted speed limits, even if your tires have higher speed ratings.

  • M+S

Also shown as M/S, this indicates that the tire has some mud and snow capability. Most radial tires have these markings.

 

Source: nhtsa.gov

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