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What do the size numbers on tyre sidewalls actually mean?

What do the size numbers on tyre sidewalls actually mean?

Those numbers on the sides of your tyres... are they just industry gibberish that only people in the know can understand?

No; they're actually quite simple and rather handy once you know what they all signify.

They're not just useful to know the next time a tyre garage asks you what size tyres your car has; they can tell you a lot about what your tyres can cope with, as well.

Let's take a common tyre size as an example: 195 65 R15 91 V:

195 - this is the width of the tyre in millimetres.

65 - this is the height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the width; in this case 65% of 195mm. This is also known as the aspect ratio. The lower the number, the more 'low-profile' the tyre.

R - this designates that the tyre is of radial construction, as nearly all new tyres are.

15 - this is the diameter of the tyre's inner rim in inches, i.e. the wheel size the tyre will fit onto.

91 - this is the load rating of the tyre. There's an official table of rates, and in this case 91 is 615kg

V - this is the speed rating of the tyre. This indicates the maximum speed for the tyre when at full load. Again, there's a standard table of rates, and V is 149 mph.

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