Tire Information

What do the numbers and letters on your tire mean?

This is a question we get asked by our customers very often. With multiple “weird” markings, those numbers and letter on your tire can look very confusing. However, they are the opposite. Below, I will explain the meaning of each of these markings. This will help you in understanding what type of tires your vehicle needs, since not all tires are the same.

Tire Diagram

To the left, you will find a picture diagram of a tire and its many markings. A first looks at it can be overwhelming and confusing. My task today is to make it the opposite.


This is the first part of a tire’s information, the size measurement. From this number, we can find out the nominal width (215), ratio of height to width (65) and rim diameter (15).

The letter “P” found at the beginning declares this tire a passenger type. Not all tires have this identification and some can still be used for passenger travel. The “R” in the middle stands for the performance rating, in this case radial. Another type is “ZR”, for performance.


Next we have the load index (95) and speed rating (H). There are many variations for this. To make sure you are getting the correct one, please look on the driver side of your car, right on the door side panel is a manufacturer’s sticker. This provides the customer with these numbers and also factory sizes.


Next, you will see a special lettering (M+S). This depends on the condition your tire is rated for. Here in Florida, we tend to get all season summer tires. Considering we have Summer 365 days a year, it’s the best option we have. In colder environments, people will have a separate set for winter use.

Following that is the manufacturer’s name. For example, it could read Pirelli, Michelin, Continental, etc. There are many different brands to choose from.


When purchasing a tire online, we get this weird number with letters in the description. Sometimes it reads as follows: 220 A A. Sometimes it reads as 500 AA A. This is informing the customer of the tread wear, traction rating and temperature rating, respectfully.

The tread wear can read from anywhere in the 100s to the 500s. The higher the number, the more performance. However, please note: tread wear is done by each company internally. What does this mean? If a Michelin says 220 tread wear and a Pirelli says 220 tread wear, they might not be the same. Each company considers the tread ware in comparison to their own other tires. This is something you have to be careful with when purchasing a tire.

The same rule applies to traction and temperature. However, this rating is identified by letters, being between AA and C for traction and A and C for temperature. Traction is determined on a wet surface, with AA being the best performance and C being worst. Temperature is considered best performing at A and worst at C. Needless to say, you should avoid anything with a C.


Simply the model of the brand. For example: PZERO, Pilot Sport, etc.


Now, we move into the smaller numbers and letters. Here we can find the DOT and number of plies a tire has. The DOT is an identification given by the US Department of Transportation (D.O.T.). Then we have the tire ply composition and material used. This helps in preventing a flat tire and bad wear. Plies are more important when it comes to heavier vehicles, like off-road pick-ups and trucks.


The max load is the maximum weight the tire can support. The required value for your car can be found on the driver’s door side panel. It will be there in the form of a sticker from the manufacturer of the vehicle. The max press stands for the maximum air pressure the tires should be filled with. This prevents them from being under too much stress and cause a flat.

With all these recommendations in mind, one can be sure to purchase the correct tire for their vehicle. If you still feel uncomfortable or not sure what you should get, feel free to leave a comment below and we will be more than happy to help you out.

It’s always best to look for the most economical tire that meets all your vehicle’s needs. This will prevent any issues and guarantee a long lasting rotation.

We here at Miami AutoSport love to work with our customers in finding the right tire for their budget while maintaining the good quality all vehicles demand. With hundreds of brands and models to choose from, there are endless possibilities. It all starts with knowing the specifications of your vehicle and finding the right option for you.