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What the Markings on Your Tires Are Telling You: How to Read the Markings on Your Tires

markings on your tiresKnowing and understanding the markings on your tire may help you take actions to avoid a tire blowout and possibly an accident.  The markings are meant to provide information that, if interpreted, can help protect your car and everyone else on the road.  Understanding what each letter or number on a tire means is not as difficult as it may appear.

At one spot on the tire the word “Treadwear” will be near the outer wall.   A number that rates the lifespan of the tread will immediately follow.  100 is the benchmark, so a tire with 200 has twice the estimated lifespan.  Following treadwear is the traction rating.  Tires are rated based on their ability to stop in a straight line on a wet surface.  Ratings range from AA, A, B, or C with AA being the best.  The third symbol on this part of the tire represents temperature.  This rating is an A, B, or C, where A is the best at withstanding heat at high speeds.

Moving towards the center of the tire from the temperature, is the max load and inflation level information.  The first number represents the amount of weight the tire can safely carry and the second number with the PSI label indicates the maximum amount of air the tire can hold.  Continuing around the tire, “DOT” will always appear.  This means the tire meets the Department of Transportation’s safety standards.  Immediately after DOT is “CC” with a number, letter, or both.  These characters serve as a form of identification for the plant that manufactured the tire.

The characters immediately following represent marketing codes used at the manufacturer’s discretion.  Marketing codes are followed by four numbers.  The first two identify the week and the second two identify the year the tire was manufactured.

Going clockwise from the marketing code is the word “Plies” which is followed by a list of the materials and the quantity of each used to construct the tire.  Above the construction materials are several arrows indicating which direction the tire should rotate.

To the right of the arrows are a letter or set of letters that identify the class of vehicle for which the tire was made.  For example, “P” represents passenger vehicles and “LT” represents light trucks.  The number after is the tire’s width in millimeters.  Following the width is the aspect ratio, which measures how tall the sidewall is as a percentage of the tire’s width.  For example, “50” means that the sidewall is half as tall as it is wide.  Shorter sidewalls usually mean the tire is more aimed at performance but may provide a bumpier ride.  After the aspect ratio is the size of the wheel that the tire will fit on (in inches) and the category of load the tire can withstand (SL = standard load).

After the SL abbreviation and under the “Treadwear,” is a number on its own with a single letter.  This represents the load and speed of the tire. The number correlates to a load index which provides the maximum weight the tire can carry.  The letter is a symbol that represents the maximum speed the tire is capable of reaching.

When examined independently, the characters on a tire can be easily interpreted.  These characters can be extremely valuable in a car accident lawsuit. For example if a car was carrying a load greater than the maximum amount listed on the tire, the cause of the accident can be attributed to the person’s decision to exceed the weight limit.  The attorneys at the Amaro Law Firm understand that the small details can be the difference between winning and losing a tire defect case.  They are committed to examining every detail necessary to provide the best representation possible.  If you or a loved one have been in an accident due to the fault of another, you be entitled to legal action.  Contact us today for a free consultation.