A tire’s sidewall is pretty much what it sounds like – the outer and inner “walls” on the sides of a tire, if facing a tire on its side. Every sidewall has its own unique information that is divided into three main sections:
This describes the fundamental characteristics of your tire: size, construction, speed rating and more.
This identifies the tire's aspect ratio, which is the relationship of the tire's sidewall height to the tire's width. In this example, the sidewall height of the tire is 55% of its width. The lower the ratio, the smaller the sidewall height, which means better cornering, but a rougher ride.
This indicated the maximum safe speed at which a tire is certified to carry a load under specified conditions. Speed ratings range from A (lowest) to Y (highest), with one exception: H falls between U and V. To find the maximum speed for your tire, refer to the speed rating chart*. Exceeding the lawful speed limit is neither recommended nor endorsed.
This is the tire's internal construction, which is "radial". Almost every tire on the road has radial construction, which means the cords of the carcass plies inside the tire "radiate" directly across from one side of the tire to the other. Other letters used are D, for diagonal construction, and B, for belted.
This indicates how much weight the tire is certified to carry at maximum safe inflation. It doesn't mean 97 pounds, because it's actually an assigned value that corresponds with its "actual" load capacity found on a load index chart. If you look up 97 on the chart, you'll find 1,609 pounds. (To see the load index chart on the Tire Speed Ratings & Tread Life page, click here.)
This assures that your tire complies with all Department of Transportation (DOT) and Transport Canada safety standards. After the DOT insignia is your tire’s identification number, which begins with the tire’s manufacturer and plant code where the tire was manufactured (two numbers or letters). The ninth and tenth characters tell the week the tire was manufactured. The final number(s) signifies the year the tire was manufactured.
The Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) was established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to test tires following government prescribed test methods and then grade each tire on three main components:
Some tires have unique benefits, as showcased with specific icons. For example, a Mountain Snowflake symbol tells you that the tire meets or exceeds industry-established snow traction performance requirements.