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Know your tire: How to read tire specifications

Tires are integral parts of an automobile that deserves more attention than it generally receives from car owners. The root cause of many accidents is poorly maintained or damaged tires. A tire is the only thing that stands between us, the road and the safety of our loved ones. So it’s critical for owners or drivers to have a sound understanding of tires as they should about other integral parts of their cars. Let’s start real basic. 

Back in early times, tire manufacturing was much more simplistic than it is today. They were pretty much a two-ply construction which wasn’t very sturdy. As you may already know, old tires were stuffed with tubes filled with air, and these were prone to frequent punctures, especially on bad roads. Tire problems used to be more common than it was today. In order to fix tires,  repairers were required to disassemble the whole wheel, separate the tire, spot the puncture, patch it and fix it back. It was a tedious process. 

However, modern tires are much stronger and comprise multiple layers of steel belts and other complex compounds.
The above image gives you a good view of the layers in the tire. Most modern tires have clear specifications that tell you what it’s made out of percentage-wise. For instance, if the product information section reads polyester 2 + steel 2 + and nylon 1. So that means two layers of steel, two polyester layers, and one layer of nylon. 

 

General Tire Information

The above image, from Dunlop tires, details how general information is laid out on the sidewall of a tire. However, most customers pay the least attention to much of the details except a few important ones. The few important ones include the tire size, tire type and the manufacturing date of the tire.

Let’s look at an example. 195/65 R15 is one of the most commonly found tire sizes that you can find on several sedans, crossovers and mid-size SUVs. The 195 stands for the width of the tire across the tread. Then we have 65, which stands for the depth between the rim and the tire tread. R stands for radial, and R15 is the rim diameter. 

Check The Date Of Manufacturing 

The manufacturing date of a tire is probably one of the most important information that people tend to skip while purchasing a used car or fresh set of tires. Because this tells you everything, you need to know about your car and its highly important you mid this detail for your and your family’s safety. Now tread wise, the tire you’re checking out might look perfect. But what you won’t see is what happens to the rubber internally. 

The compounds used in tire manufacturing are oil-based, and they tend to break down with time and temperature. Using tires that’s been sitting at the dealers for a very long time might come cheap and seem like a great deal as it looks great externally. However, falling for such predictable discounts can result in grave consequences. And next thing you know, you’re doing 70 miles an hour on the highway, and you stop feeling a shake and a thump, and it rips all over the highway. 

So, take a close look at the tires before purchasing them. For instance, if it’s marked 4221, you must pay more attention to the ‘21’ part as it mentions the year of manufacture. The first half – 42 shows in which week of the year 2021 that particular tire was manufactured. We recommend that you never buy a tire that’s been sitting on the shelf for more than one year. 

To Conclude

Now that you have a basic understanding of tire construction and specifications, you will be better able to choose the right tire that best suits your needs. The tire is the most important part of the car. The right tire choice matters for the safety of a family and loved ones, or even the deer on the side of the road. Safety doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. But common sense goes a long way. 

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