Reading your rubber.
Tyres play a massive role in maintaining your car’s performance as well as your personal safety. But far from being just those ‘black rubber things’ that keep the car’s body off the ground, a lot of information can actually be learned just by reading the letter and numbers on the sides. Want to know more? Let us show you!
1. Manufacture date.
This will allow you to easily determine the exact age of a tyre. Look for a stamped oval shape containing a 4-digit number – the first two are the week of production and the last two the calendar year. So in this case, this tyre was made in the 35th week of 2015. As the rubber compounds in a tyre will degrade over time, it is advisable to check your tyres regularly for wear, as cracking of the rubber or deformation may occur.
2. Tyre width in mm.
All else being equal, a wider tyre will give you more grip in the turns, but will also be noisier and less fuel efficient.
3. Tyre profile, or height of the tyre’s sidewall.
This is expressed as a percentage of tyre width – so in this example, the sidewall height is 55% of 205 mm, which is 127.55 mm high. A lower profile helps provide more stable cornering, while a higher profile usually offers a more comfortable ride.
4. Radial construction and rim diameter.
Larger rim sizes will usually look nicer, but are generally heavier, affect ride comfort and increase fuel consumption. Do note that if you are changing rims to that of a larger size, lower profile tyres are needed so as to maintain the rolling radius of the wheels; not doing so will cause your speedometer reading to be inaccurate.
5. Load and speed rating, or the maximum weight and vehicle speed the tyres are designed to bear.
Tyre firms use a special chart whose values correspond to different ratings, so in this case for example, ’93’ means the tyre can carry up to 650 kg, while a ‘V’-rated tyre means it is designed to travel at up to 240 km/h.