Ultimate Guide to All Those Letters and Numbers on Your Tires [Infographic]

As drivers one of the basic stuff that we need to learn is how to read a tire and to know what to expect and what it offers. In most cases people can’t really read what is on the label and some of them don’t even bother to be honest.
However, we can’t really stress out how a driver should know something really basic and fundamental and if not, at least to consider learning a little more about.


A tire provides a wealth of information on what it is and how it can be used in just a few letters on the side.  There is more than just the size on the side of your automobile tires. You can quickly determine when a tire was made, the load rating, and the maximum speed it can travel.

In all of the lettering and and numbers at the bottom of the tire only a few of them should catch your attention and these start with DOT. Another important part is the last bit, 5107.

This number is actually when the tire was manufactured, and in this case it was the 51st week of the year 2007. This is really important to know for a few reasons.

New car tyres are seen inside the Clairoix Continental tyre factory

You should be prepared enough to know your way around the car shop that you’re going to visit and to know where is the best place to buy tires. And of course when you get a new set of tires installed, you will be able to tell if someone wants to slip you used tires. Knowing this much about tires and their best before usage is more than a year or two old, you should bring this to the attention of the installer.

The second reason is to be able to know how old the tires are on your car. You shouldn’t take for granted your aging tires, and if they seem to you like they can go for a year or two check twice because your safety is paramount.

This said old tires have a tendency to get hard and cause you to have less traction. It also increases your chances of having a blowout while driving down the road, which we are pretty sure you won’t like when it happens, exactly we didn’t use the term if it happens for a reason.


Load ratings are really important when considering tires for your car. The tires need to meet or exceed the manufacturer’s suggested load rating. For example If you get a light duty tire and put it on your big SUV, it significantly increase the chance to get a flat tire and all the other issues that might come with that.  It has some information at the top showing all the different load ratings. It looks a little daunting but is pretty straight forward.

The numbers range from 71-110. The higher the number the higher the rating. The picture below is a label that can be found on most cars. These are the basic minimum requirements for actual load capacity. The load rating is usually found after the size of the tire. This car requires a tire with a load rating of 89 or higher. The chart at the bottom of the article tells you that each one of these tires can support a maximum of 1279 lbs at maximum air pressure.


There are also stickers to help with additional information like the speed rating is also visible. If you look directly after the load rating, there is a letter. These letters correspond to the maximum speed a tire can travel safely. Here, an H rated tire has a maximum speed of 130 mph. The speed rating isn’t quite as straight forward as the load rating. The system is very basic and refers like this: H is a faster speed than T, but T is faster than L. It’s important to remember that just because a tire is rated at 149 mph, doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and burn down the rubber on those speeds.

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