The sidewall symbol mystery explained

Ever wondered what all those symbols are on the side of your tyre; wonder no more...

Decrypting your tyre

The sidewall of a modern tyre contains a multitude of figures, letters and symbols which, to the untrained eye, it can appear to be completely confusing. And yet all of this information is valuable and necessary and in some instances very useful for the motorist.

Tyre wear indicators

For instance, you can tell the age of a tyre, and how you can check if a tyre is below the legal minimum tread depth, without the need for a tread depth indicator, these are the TWI (Tread Wear Indicators) which are blocks of rubber set in the tread at 1.6mm. if they are even with the tread, the tyre is illegal.

Tyre Sidewall Markings

The sidewall markings chart for a passenger car and van:

1. Tyre brand name

2. Pattern or model code

3. Tyre size 

4. Service description (load index and speed symbol)

5. ECE or EEC type approval number (C&U regulations stipulate all tyres used in the UK must carry an E number)

6. ECE noise approval

7. North American recall number

8. Date of manufacture code. Four numbers, the first two determine the week of manufacture from 01 (January) to 52 (January) the second two the year of manufacture e.g. 03 (2003).

9. UTQG quality rating. An USA requirement, has no significance in the UK or Europe.

10. Maximum permitted load. A USA requirement, as above

11. Maximum permitted inflation pressure. A USA requirement, as above.

12. Denotes tubeless construction.

13. Safety warning.

14. Direction of rotation. (Directional or Composite tyres).

15. Rim fitment instruction (Asymmetrical or Composite tyres)

16. Denotes extra load tyre construction

16a Denotes reinforced tyre construction Position of tread wear indicators (TWI)


About the author

Dean Richardson

Dean is a Regional Director for Protyre who is also responsible for the running of our Protech Academy. The Protech Academy is a centre of excellence where the Protyre team learn the latest mechanical knowledge and skills, gain qualifications and develop their expertise to share with our customers at their local garage. The Academy is also designed to help us stay ahead of the ever changing automotive market by ensuring we have the best skills available to deal with advanced driver assist systems, hybrid/ electric vehicles in addition to all the new technology finding their way into our vehicles. During Dean's career he has worked for some of the biggest names in the fast-fit and mechanical aftermarket and as the man responsible for developing our people and their mechanical skills he is ideally suited to help provide advice in the latest in car technology and ongoing maintenance of your vehicle no matter how new or old it maybe.

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