How to read a tyre sidewall


As cars become more advanced, so does the rubber they run on. There are literally thousands of different makes, models, patterns and compounds.


There is certain information that can be taken from the tyre sidewall that can help you determine the kind of tyre you need.


In addition to this, you need to know if the tyre has any particular attributes. For example, is it a Run Flat tyre? Does it have any manufacturer approval, (MO for Mercedes, N for Porsche etc).

Speed Ratings

All tyres sold in the EU are issued with a speed rating.

This takes the form of a letter, normally found after the size and indicates up to what speed the tyre is capable of safely operating at for a sustained period of 1 hour.

It is important to ensure that the tyres fitted to your vehicle are suitable for its use and performance capabilities.


Load Ratings

Along with the speed rating, a tyre also carries a load rating.

As the name suggests, it lets the user know how much weight the tyre casing can safely carry. It is very important never to exceed this limit as it may result in a tyre blowout and subsequent loss of control of the vehicle.

How old is my tyre?


When a tyre is moulded, it is stamped to show the week and year of manufacture. This can be an invaluble tool with regards to tyre safety. The British Tyre Council recommend that tyres are changed when they reach 5 years old, regardless of tread wear. This is due to the rubber compound braking down over time and becoming less effective. You can find the date code on the side wall of your tyre. It is normally located near the DOT, (Dept. of transport) number. It will take the form of three or four digits. If it is three digits, the first two are the month, the last the year. For example, 136 would be the 13th week of 1986. If the last digit has an arrow after it, it moves on a decade to the nineties. 256< would be the 25th week of 1996. More commonly nowadays, would be the four digit code. The image to the left shows a date code of 3811, (the 38th week of 2011).  If you are unsure how old your tyres are, pop down and see us for your free tyre check and we'll gladly let you know!