Tyre Load Ratings Explained

By David Sholicar

The majority of motorists never stop to think about the load rating of their tyres - in fact, most drivers probably aren’t even aware that there is a defined load rating for every vehicle tyre.

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The majority of motorists never stop to think about the load rating of their tyres - in fact, most drivers probably aren’t even aware that there is a defined load rating for every vehicle tyre. You wouldn’t attempt to fit a tyre of the wrong size or type for your vehicle, but it’s equally as important to be aware of your car manufacturer’s recommendations and adhere strictly to any load ratings as set out in your vehicle’s handbook.

What Is a Tyre Load Index?

A tyre’s load index gives the maximum amount of weight that each individual tyre can carry. Usually considered in combination with a tyre’s speed index, the rule of thumb is that tyres with a higher load index number are capable of carrying a heavier load capacity than those with a lower number.
It’s absolutely crucial to the safety of your driving experience that you select a tyre with an appropriate load rating for your vehicle’s needs. If in any doubt at all, always go for a higher load rating than you need, as this won’t cause any harm to your vehicle. However, it’s very important not to go lower than your vehicle’s recommended load rating, as this could compromise your vehicle’s safety and could even invalidate your vehicle’s insurance policy, leading to potentially crippling costs in the event of an accident.


The load index is marked on each individual tyre’s sidewall as part of the series of letters and numbers that denote its statistics.
As an example, for a tyre with the markings 205/55/R16/ 91V, 205 denotes the width of the tyre in millimetres, 55 denotes the tyre’s aspect ratio, which is the sidewall’s height given as a percentage of the width, R16 specifies that it is a radial tyre with an inside diameter of 16 inches and 91V indicates the load index.

Below you’ll find a conversion table that tells you what each load rating number means, and in this case the 91 shows that the tyre’s load is 615 kg.

Load IndexLoad (kg)Load IndexLoad (kg)Load IndexLoad (kg)

Why the Load Index of a Tyre Is So Important Subjecting a tyre to weight levels that it has not been designed for has serious implications for the continuing stability of that tyre. Subjecting your vehicle’s tyres to weights that they have not been designed to cope with creates great stress on the tyres, creating excessive heat build-up which will eventually compromise its integrity, with potentially catastrophic results. This can be compounded even further where the tyre pressure is incorrect.
The tyre’s load index becomes even more important whenever you are towing a caravan or trailer or when travelling off-road, which places further strain on the tyre’s structures. Off-roaders should always be aware of the need to ensure that their tyres are correctly inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressures when returning to on-road driving to prevent premature wear and damage.
At Protyre we are happy to discuss your requirements and suggest suitable tyres for your needs from our extensive range, which includes all the major brands, including Pirelli and Bridgestone.

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About the author

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By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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