Your tyre markings – what do they have to say for themselves

Ever wondered what those mysterious numbers and letters on the side of your vehicle’s tyres are all about? Or, more importantly, what do they mean?

Tyres are an essential part of your vehicle. They are the only material that connects your vehicle to the road surface.

On the side of your tyre, there will be a brand and model name in a bigger font and a collection of letters and numbers (sometimes smaller, sometimes not) that will tell you more information.

Have a look at what the numbers on the tyres mean:

  • 203/55/R20: In this case, the ‘203’ number refers to the tyre’s width, and it is measured in millimetres.
    • The’ 55′ denotes the aspect ratio or profile of the tyre. At the same time, the ‘R’ stands for radial construction (rarer bias-ply and belted tires are represented by a D and B, respectively).The’ 20′ means the tyre can fit perfectly to an 18-inch rim.
  • 93W: The ’93’ indicates the load capacity and how fast the tyre can run safely. In this regard, the 93 means the maximum load rating while the ‘W’ indicates a 270 km/h top speed the tyre can handle.
    • For example, if a tyre is rated ‘V’, it can only sustain speeds of up to 240 km/h.
  • M+S: This one is simple as it indicates Mud and Snow, and it appears on applicable tyres. This symbol is an indication that the tyre can handle snowy and muddy situations.
  • DOT: This indicates the dates when the tyre was manufactured. For example, DOTXXX1212 means the tyre was made in the 12th week of the year 2012.
  • Treadwear 200: The numbers indicate how long the tyre is likely to last. The higher the number, the more km you are likely to get out of it.
  • Brand Name: This is always printed in large font, and it is what is most visible on the tyre.
  • Tyre rotation: This denotes the direction of the tyre rotation when fitted.

Understanding the markings on your tyre will help you select the correct tyre for your specific vehicle and driving style. Looking to go off-road? Check that your tread width and profile are suited. Prioritising the freedom of the open road? Best you make sure your tyre selection meets your need for speed. (While still driving cautiously and within the speed limit, of course!)