Tyre Sidewall Markings Explained

When buying new tyres for your car, it is important to replace tyre with the correct specification – usually like for like. Most reputable tyre fitting centres will take care of this for you, but it is always good to understand what you are buying – and it is essential if you want to save money by buying your tyres online and just have them fitted locally.


There is a lot of small print on car tyres, but most of it can be ignored. The important features of a tyre are its size, load rating and speed rating. It should also have a European type approval mark. Here is what the markings on the tyre in the picture mean:

205: The width of the tyre in millimetres.

55: The height or profile of the tyre sidewall, expressed as a percentage of its width. Also known as the aspect ratio. In this case the height of the tyre sidewall is 205×0.55 = 112.75mm

R16: This is the diameter of the wheel rim, measured in inches – the wheel rim is 16″ in this case.

91: This is the load rating of the tyre – a measure of the maximum weight it can support. 91 denotes a load rating of 615kg.

V: The speed rating of the tyre – the maximum speed at which the tyre can support maximum load. This should be higher than the maximum speed of the car. In this case, V means a speed rating of up to 149mph.

E4: This is a European type approval indicating it has met tyre safety standards set by the European Regulatory Authorities.

The required speed ratings and load ratings for your car’s tyres can be found in your car’s handbook. It is vital that you do not use tyres with a load or speed rating lower than that recommended by the manufacturer. This will result in an increased likelihood of tyre blowouts and could potentially invalidate your insurance.

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Other Tyre Markings – Tyre Manufacturing Date

Photo of a tyre manufacturing date stamp on tyre sidewall
Look for a four-digit number like this on the sidewall - this tyre was made in the 7th week of 2010

You can safely ignore most of the other markings on your car’s tyres, but one other marking that may be of interest is the manufacturing date.

These enables you to check that the tyres you are buying have been made recently and are not old stock that has been sitting around for years, and may already be suffering the effects of ageing.

To read the manufacturing date on a tyre, look for a four digit code somewhere on the inner edge of the tyre – something like this: 2610

The first two digits refer to the week in which the tyre was manufactured and the second two digits refer to the year in which the tyre was made.

For example, 2610 would refer to the 26th week of 2010.

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