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Jamie Gibbs

Understanding tyre labels, markings and ratings

Buying the right tyres for your car needn’t be a confusing business.

Car tyre

Shopping for a new set of car tyres?

This guide will help demystify some of the labels and markings you’re bound to encounter.

Tyre labels explained

EU tyre label

All new tyres sold in the EU after November 2012 come with a standard label. It classifies the tyre into three categories – fuel efficiency, wet grip and external noise – with a rating for each area.

The rating goes from green A (best) to red G (worst). And external noise is measured in decibels (dB).

The label itself looks very similar to the one that household appliances have. The aim is to provide drivers with enough objective, and reliable information to make an informed decision when buying new tyres.

Fuel efficiency

Fuel efficiency label

This label relates to a tyre’s rolling resistance. It measures the amount of energy lost when a tyre is rolling, which is affected by the day-to-day wear and tear.

Tyres which have lower rolling resistance tend to provide better fuel efficiency. Thus receiving a better energy rating.

Wet grip

Wet grip label

The rating of the Wet grip label is based on stopping distances in wet conditions. In the real world, stopping distance is affected by a number of factors, but the main ones remain tyre grip and tyre pressure.

Tyre manufactures have the difficult job of balancing rolling resistance, which affects fuel economy, and road grip, which affects stopping distance.

External noise

External noise label

The External noise rating is measured in decibels (dB) and was introduced to help drivers be more aware of noise pollution generated from a tyre. The goal is to reduce noise from road transport. It’s represented with black sound waves, starting with one for the lowest noise level.

Driving with quieter tyres is not only better for those around you, but it also reduces cabin noise making your journey more pleasant.

Understanding tyre markings

Every tyre has letters and numbers which provide enough information for you to choose the right one for your car and needs. The markings represent a tyre’s width, sidewall height, diameter, profile, load index and speed rating.

See the example below:

Tyre marking example

And 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 are also used to figure out your car's ideal tyre pressure.

Tyre speed rating

The tyre’s speed rating is the last letter of the markings. It shows the maximum speed a tyre can handle. An average Ford Fiesta is best suited to V-rated tyres, which allow for speeds of up to 150mph.

Here’s the full table of tyre speed ratings:

Sidewall Marking Speed in mph
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingN Speed in mphSpeed in mph87
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingP Speed in mphSpeed in mph93
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingQ Speed in mphSpeed in mph99
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingR Speed in mphSpeed in mph106
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingS Speed in mphSpeed in mph112
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingT Speed in mphSpeed in mph118
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingU Speed in mphSpeed in mph124
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingH Speed in mphSpeed in mph130
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingV Speed in mphSpeed in mph149
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingZ Speed in mphSpeed in mph150+
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingW Speed in mphSpeed in mph168
Sidewall MarkingSidewall MarkingY Speed in mphSpeed in mph186

Tyre load rating

As the title suggests, this rating represents the maximum weight a tyre can carry.

A tyre with a load index of 91, for example, is capable of carrying 615kg. Multiply that by four and you’ll have 2,460kg – the absolute maximum weight your car can handle (this includes the weight of the car).

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

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

Here are all load ratings:

Load index Load in kg
Load indexLoad index62 Load in kgLoad in kg265
Load indexLoad index63 Load in kgLoad in kg272
Load indexLoad index64 Load in kgLoad in kg280
Load indexLoad index65 Load in kgLoad in kg290
Load indexLoad index66 Load in kgLoad in kg300
Load indexLoad index67 Load in kgLoad in kg307
Load indexLoad index68 Load in kgLoad in kg315
Load indexLoad index69 Load in kgLoad in kg325
Load indexLoad index70 Load in kgLoad in kg335
Load indexLoad index71 Load in kgLoad in kg345
Load indexLoad index72 Load in kgLoad in kg355
Load indexLoad index73 Load in kgLoad in kg365
Load indexLoad index74 Load in kgLoad in kg375
Load indexLoad index75 Load in kgLoad in kg387
Load indexLoad index76 Load in kgLoad in kg400
Load indexLoad index77 Load in kgLoad in kg412
Load indexLoad index78 Load in kgLoad in kg425
Load indexLoad index79 Load in kgLoad in kg437
Load indexLoad index80 Load in kgLoad in kg450
Load indexLoad index81 Load in kgLoad in kg462
Load indexLoad index82 Load in kgLoad in kg475
Load indexLoad index83 Load in kgLoad in kg487
Load index Load in kg
Load indexLoad index84 Load in kgLoad in kg500
Load indexLoad index85 Load in kgLoad in kg515
Load indexLoad index86 Load in kgLoad in kg530
Load indexLoad index87 Load in kgLoad in kg545
Load indexLoad index88 Load in kgLoad in kg560
Load indexLoad index89 Load in kgLoad in kg580
Load indexLoad index90 Load in kgLoad in kg600
Load indexLoad index91 Load in kgLoad in kg615
Load indexLoad index92 Load in kgLoad in kg630
Load indexLoad index93 Load in kgLoad in kg650
Load indexLoad index94 Load in kgLoad in kg670
Load indexLoad index95 Load in kgLoad in kg690
Load indexLoad index96 Load in kgLoad in kg710
Load indexLoad index97 Load in kgLoad in kg730
Load indexLoad index98 Load in kgLoad in kg750
Load indexLoad index99 Load in kgLoad in kg775
Load indexLoad index100 Load in kgLoad in kg800
Load indexLoad index101 Load in kgLoad in kg825
Load indexLoad index102 Load in kgLoad in kg850
Load indexLoad index103 Load in kgLoad in kg875
Load indexLoad index104 Load in kgLoad in kg900
Load indexLoad index105 Load in kgLoad in kg925
Load index Load in kg
Load indexLoad index106 Load in kgLoad in kg950
Load indexLoad index107 Load in kgLoad in kg975
Load indexLoad index108 Load in kgLoad in kg1000
Load indexLoad index109 Load in kgLoad in kg1030
Load indexLoad index110 Load in kgLoad in kg1060
Load indexLoad index111 Load in kgLoad in kg1090
Load indexLoad index112 Load in kgLoad in kg1120
Load indexLoad index113 Load in kgLoad in kg1150
Load indexLoad index114 Load in kgLoad in kg1180
Load indexLoad index115 Load in kgLoad in kg1215
Load indexLoad index116 Load in kgLoad in kg1250
Load indexLoad index117 Load in kgLoad in kg1285
Load indexLoad index118 Load in kgLoad in kg1320
Load indexLoad index119 Load in kgLoad in kg1360
Load indexLoad index120 Load in kgLoad in kg1400
Load indexLoad index121 Load in kgLoad in kg1450
Load indexLoad index122 Load in kgLoad in kg1500
Load indexLoad index123 Load in kgLoad in kg1550
Load indexLoad index124 Load in kgLoad in kg1600
Load indexLoad index125 Load in kgLoad in kg1650
Load indexLoad index126 Load in kgLoad in kg1700
Load indexLoad index Load in kgLoad in kg

 

First published 07 December 2016

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