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Understanding tyre ratings, markings and labels

Buying the best tyres for your car shouldn't be confusing. All tyres have a tyre information label to help you compare them, but they might seem to be jibberish at first.

Once you understand the symbols used on tyre ratings, you should be able to tell what your tyre information labels mean. Whether that's your tyre speed rating or your tyre markings.

We've put together some handy tyre ratings charts so you know what your tyre label is telling you.

Tyre salesperson pointing to the label

 

Car tyre labels explained

EU Tyre Label Marking 

All new car tyres sold in the UK and EU after November 2012 come with a standard tyre information label or sticker attached. The label ranks the tyre on 3 criteria:

  • Fuel efficiency

  • Wet grip

  • External noise

Fuel efficiency and wet grip get a rating from green A (best) to red G (worst). External noise is measured in decibels (dB).

The tyre label looks like the ones found on household appliances, such as washing machines. This familiar format gives drivers enough information to make an informed decision when buying new tyres.

 

Tyre label: fuel efficiency

Fuel Efficiency Tyre Label Marking 

The fuel efficiency part of the label relates to a tyre’s rolling resistance.

It shows the amount of energy you’d expect to lose when a particular tyre is rolling, due to day-to-day wear and tear.

Tyres that have lower rolling resistance usually provides better fuel efficiency, and has a better energy rating. The difference between each category is around 3% to 4% fuel efficiency.

If you're looking for ways to save money on fuel, take a look at our tips to increase your fuel efficiency.

 

Tyre label: wet grip

Wet Grip Tyre Label Marking 

The rating of the wet grip label is based on stopping distances in wet conditions.

Many factors affect stopping distance, but the main ones are tyre grip and tyre pressure.

Tyre manufacturers have the difficult job of weighing up rolling resistance and road grip. Balancing fuel economy and stopping distance.

The fuel efficient and wet grip ratings are important. This is because the difference between each rating from A down to G could add up to two car lengths to the stopping distance.

Having poor wet grip ratings increases your chances of making a car insurance claim when driving in wet weather.

 

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Tyre label: external noise

External Noise Tyre Label Marking 

The external noise rating is measured in decibels (dB). This makes drivers more aware of noise pollution generated from a tyre.

The goal is to reduce noise from road transport. The tyre noise level is represented with black sound waves, starting with 1 for the lowest noise level, moving up to 3 for the noisiest tyres:

  • 1 sound wave: The tyre is 3dB lower than the European noise limit
  • 2 sound waves: The tyre is compliant with the European limit
  • 3 sound waves: The tyre noise exceeds the current European limit.

Driving with quieter tyres is better for those around you. It also reduces cabin noise to make your journey more pleasant.

As a rough guide, a 3dB increase in tyre noise could double the amount of noise the tyre produces.

 

Do all new car tyres need a label?

No, the following tyre types are exempt:

  • Non-road-legal tyres, such as those on race cars

  • Re-treads

  • Temporary ‘T-tyre’ tyres

  • Vintage car tyres and those made for cars before 1990

 

Tyre markings explained

As well as the 3 ratings, every tyre has letters and numbers embossed on them.

The marking represents the tyre’s width, sidewall height, diameter, profile, load index, and speed rating.

 

Tyre markings – what do they mean?

Tyre Label Marking 

It’s important to understand what each rating means and how it applies to your vehicle. This is because fitting the wrong tyre could be unsafe.

Using our image as an example, here’s what each marking means:

  • 193 – The width of the tyre in millimetres

  • 60 – The height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the width of the tyre

  • R – The tyre is of radial construction

  • 15 – The diameter of the wheel’s inner rim in inches

  • 94 – Indicates the load rating of the tyre

  • W – Indicates the tyre speed rating

These markings may also help with your car's ideal tyre pressure.

 

What is tyre speed rating?

The tyre’s speed rating is the last letter of the markings. It shows the greatest speed a tyre might handle.

While the speed limit in the UK is 70 mph, this could be useful if you drive in Germany, where some autobahns have no upper speed limit.

Here’s a full tyre speed rating chart:

Sidewall Marking Speed in mph
N
87
P
93
Q
99
R
106
S
112
T
118
U
124
H
130
V
149
Z
150+
W
168
Y
186
 

What is tyre load rating?

This rating represents the largest weight a tyre might carry.

A tyre with a load index of 91, for example, is capable of carrying 615kg. Multiply that by 4 and you have 2,460kg – the absolute largest weight your car could handle. This includes the weight of the car itself.

If you're towing a trailer or caravan, you might need a higher load index to handle the extra weight.

For example, the basic trim Ford Fiesta weighs approximately 1,045kg. Standard tyres for the car have a load rating of 81, which means the largest weight they could carry is 1,848kg. This leaves you with roughly 804kg to carry people and luggage.

Overloading a car could compromise your safety and result in an accident. It also affects handling and fuel economy.

Here are the tyre load rating charts:

Load index Load in kg
62
265
63
272
64
280
65
290
66
300
67
307
68
315
69
325
70
335
71
345
72
355
73
365
74
375
75
387
76
400
77
412
78
425
79
437
80
450
81
462
82
475
83
487
Load index Load in kg
84
500
85
515
86
530
87
545
88
560
89
580
90
600
91
615
92
630
93
650
94
670
95
690
96
710
97
730
98
750
99
775
100
800
101
825
102
850
103
875
104
900
105
925
Load index Load in kg
106
950
107
975
108
1000
109
1030
110
1060
111
1090
112
1120
113
1150
114
1180
115
1215
116
1250
117
1285
118
1320
119
1360
120
1400
121
1450
122
1500
123
1550
124
1600
125
1650
126
1700
 

Are car tyre labels changing?

Although the UK has left the EU, we’re expected to adopt the new tyre labelling system. This was introduced in May 2021 as part of the new EU tyre labelling regulations.

This new form of labelling has to be to be shown on tyres sold in Northern Ireland, under the NI Protocol. UK tyre distributors have agreed to make the new label system available to all customers digitally.

 

The new tyre label

New EU Tyre Label Markings 

Here’s how the new tyre label works:

The new label features the same 3 elements as the one introduced in 2012. This is the fuel efficiency, wet grip performance, and noise.

But, instead of the old A to G ratings, it's being replaced by a new scale with ratings from A to E.

The decibel image has also changed. Rather than the audio bars showing the rating out of 3, it's now shown with one of the letters A, B or C highlighted.

 

Snow and ice grip added to tyre ratings

The new label also has 2 icons of mountains. They show whether the tyre is suitable for use on driving in snow, and whether it could be used on ice.

 

Tyre label QR code

The new Energy Efficiency car tyre sticker, which also features the EU logo, should have a QR code. Drivers can get extra information about the tyre from the European Product Registry.