How to read tyre markings?

What tyre marking are you looking for?

  • What does the tyre size say, e.g. 205/55 R16 91 V
  • What does the speed index say, e.g.205/55 R16 91 V
  • What does the load index say, e.g.205/55 R16 91 V
  • What does it mean when my tyre has a "VR" or "ZR" instead of “R” in the size?
  • How do I check the production date? e.g.DOT J3EX 4208
  • Operating symbols (e.g. M+S, TWI).
  • Symbols on reinforced tyres (e.g. XL, RF).
  • Symbols informing about installation method (e.g. rotation, inside).
  • Symbols informing rim protection flange (e.g. MFS, RFP).
  • What winter tyres to choose?

Where do I find the tyre size?

Look for a sequence like 205/55 R16 91V or 195/60R15 91. This information (often accompanied by information concerning possible replacements) can usually also be found:


The size is given on the sidewall of each tyre.

  • on the driver’s door pillar,
  • in the glove compartment,
  • on the fuel cap,
  • in your car’s manual.

What does the tyre size tell me?


The tyre size is given as a sequence of characters on the sidewall of the tyre.

Always observe the tyre sizes recommended for your car.

If you decide to use a replacement, be sure to read – tyre replacements: pros and cons.

195– tyre width in millimetres.
50 - a percentage indicating the relation between the height of the sidewall (the place where the size information is found) and the tread width.In this case, “50” means 50 per cent of 195 mm, i.e. 97,5 mm.
R15– internal diameter, i.e. the rim diameter, expressed in inches.
82T– a load index of 82 and a T-class speed index.

What does the speed index mean?


up to 160 km/h


up to 170 km/h


up to 180 km/h


up to 190 km/h


up to 210 km/h


up to 240 km/h


up to 270 km/h


up to 300 km/h

The speed index indicates the maximum speed for a given tyre. It is always given on the sidewall, at the end of the size sequence.

In the case of winter tyres, you can use a lower speed index than in summer tyres.

NOTE!Winter tyres can have a speed index lower than that recommended by the manufacturer.This is included in the directive of Ministry of Transport of October 15, 2007, which adds the following to the Highway Code:

"For tyres marked as winter tyres,... , it is admissible to use tyres not suitable for the maximum speed of a given vehicle, provided that they are suitable for driving at least at 160 km/h, and the vehicle has a warning label concerning the maximum admissible speed for such tyres in a place visible and readable to the driver.”

What does the load index mean?

Index Load (kg) Index Load (kg) Index Load (kg)
80 450 92 630 104 900
81 462 93 650 105 925
82 475 94 670 106 950
83 487 95 690 107 975
84 500 96 710 108 1000
85 515 97 730 109 1030
86 530 98 750 110 1060
87 545 99 775 111 1090
88 560 100 800 112 1120
89 580 101 825 113 1150
90 600 102 850 114 1180
91 615 103 875 115 1215


The load index is the maximum admissible load on one tyre at maximum admissible speed.

Do not use tyres with a load index lower than recommended for your vehicle.

For example, a load index of 91 means, that the admissible load on one tyre cannot exceed 615 kg.By multiplying this value for four tyres, you should have a slightly larger value than the maximum permitted mass of your vehicle with full load (this information is given in your vehicle registration document, field F1).

What does it mean if my tyre has a “ZR” or “VR” instead of "R" in the size?

In 2010, an RF symbol was introduced, e.g, 205/55 RF16, which means a RunFlat tyre.

A VR or ZR symbol is a speed index included in the size marking.VR and ZR indicate, that such tyres can be used with maximum loads at speed that don't exceed:

  • VR – up to 210 km/h,
  • ZR – up to 240 km/h,

For example:
225/45 ZR17 91 Windicates, that the tyre can be used with full load at the speed of 240 km/h, while the maximum speed for the tyre is 270 km/h.

How do I check the production date?


The production date is included at the end of the DOT number.Pictured above is a Matador tyre produced in the 42nd week of 2008.

The information concerning the age of a tyre is also included on the sidewall.Find an identification number beginning with DOT.It is a sequence of 7 to 12 characters with information about the whole batch of tyres produced in a given plant.

The last four digits of this code (usually located on the circumference) include an information about the production date.

For example – 4208 – the first two digits are the week of production, the latter two is the year, which indicates that the tyre was manufactured in the 42nd week of 2008.

Operating symbols.


An M+S tyre marking used on all-season and winter tyres.

  • M+S symbol– it is short for Mud and Snow and is used on winter and all-season tyres.
  • Max Inflation symbol - it is the limit pressure value for a given tyre.
  • ECE, e, E symbol - short for the Economic Commission of Europe, indicates that the tyre can be used within the European Union, i.e. has a European approval.
  • TWI symbol– short for Treadwear Indicator.The TWI symbol is located in six places around the tyre (as bar in tread grooves) and indicates the limit of admissible treadwear.When the tread is worn down to the TWI level, it indicates that the tyre has reached the statutory minimum depth of 1.6 mm.You should consider replacing such tyre.

Tyre markings on reinforced tyres


A reinforced tyre with an Extra Load symbol

  • XL symbol– short for Extra Load, indicates a tyre with higher load bearing capacity than a standard tyre in the same size.
  • RF symbol– short for Reinforced, a reinforced tyre with higher load carrying capacity.Its meaning is similar to the XL symbol.
  • Other symbols on reinforced tyres include:

Tyre markings concerning installation methods


Rotation tyre markings are used in directional tyres and indicate rolling direction.

  • Rotation – always used with an arrow, which indicates the rolling direction of a tyre, used on directional tyres.
  • Outside – used on asymmetrical tyres, indicates the installation method.Outside indicates, that this side of the tyre should be visible on the outside of the vehicle after the tyre is installed.
  • Inside– a symbol used on asymmetrical tyres, indicates which side should be installed on the inside, i.e.closer to the vehicle and the hub.This side should not be visible on the outside of the vehicle.

Markings for tyres with a rim protection flange.


A tyre with a protective flange

Some winter tyres have rim protection flanges.The flange is meant to protect the fringe of the rim against mechanical damage when driving on a curb or hitting an object.
There are various names for the rim protection, depending on the manufacturer.

The most common tyre markings are:

  • MFS (Maximum Flange Shield)
  • RFP (Rim Fringe Protector)
  • FP (Fringe Protector)
  • FR (Felgen Ripen)

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