Tire Shopping: Understanding Your Options

Tire ShoppingShopping for tires can be a little overwhelming with the wide range of styles and choices that are available. It is important to choose the right tire for your vehicle and the type of driving you do in order to get the best safety, performance, and gas mileage from your vehicle. So, how do you go about choosing the right tires?
Getting to know the differences between the many tire types that are out there is a great place to start. In this three-part series, we will look at the tire code that is imprinted on all tires. Each part of the tire code alpha-numeric sequence tells you something about the tire. Understanding that code can help you find the right tires.

Tire Code Part One: Tire Type and Section Width

Type of Tire

The type of tire and it’s intended use are indicated by the first letter in the code. Letter designations include P for passenger vehicles, T for temporary spare, LT for light truck metric, C for commercial, and ST for special trailer service.

Section Width

Following the tire type letter is the section width of the tire, which is listed in millimeters. This is the widest point from sidewall-to-sidewall, so a larger number indicates a wider tire.
The proper size and tire type are important to assure safety and the best tire performance. Buying a quality tire will not guarantee the best performance if the tire is not made to accommodate the weight and design of your vehicle. Also, since tire size is a factor in the calculations of the computerized functions of today’s vehicles, it is essential to install the recommended tire size.
Next Up: Tire Code Part 2:  Aspect Ratio, Tire Construction, and Wheel Diameter