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What Do Tire Numbers Mean?

Closeup of Tire Numbers with Wheel Rim


Have you ever looked closely at your vehicles’ tires and seen a series of letters and numbers printed on the side? If so, you’re probably wondering exactly what they mean. This combination of letters and numbers is totally unique to your vehicle–no two are exactly the same! Each character or set of characters refers to something specific about your vehicle, such as its tire width, wheel size, and even its top speed! The service team at BMW of Southpoint has more information on what your tire numbers mean in the guide below – check it out!

Decoding the Tire Number Meaning

If you’re asking yourself, “What do the numbers on tires mean?”, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll decode each set of letters and numbers you’ll find printed on the side of your vehicle’s tires. Let’s take a random code for example:

P215/65R15 95H

These letters and numbers may seem totally random, but each one corresponds to something important about your Raleigh vehicle. 

Decoding “P”

The “P” at the start of the code refers to “P-Metric tire,” which means that the tire is used for passenger vehicles. If you drive a light-duty pickup truck, you’ll see the letters “LT” instead of “P,” which stands for “light truck.” European-style tires, or “Euro-Metric tires,” have different load capacities than their American counterparts, so they don’t have a letter preceding their tire codes. 

Decoding “215”

The “215” following the “P” refers to the tire width in millimeters, from sidewall to sidewall.

Decoding “65”

After “215,” you’ll see a forward slash followed by an aspect ratio code, which refers to the height of the tire’s cross-section compared to its width. For the example above, the tire’s height is equal to 65% of its width, so the aspect ratio is represented by the number 65. The bigger the aspect ratio, the bigger the sidewalls will be.

Decoding “R”

The R indicates the tire’s construction, with “R” representing that it’s a radial.

Decoding “15”

The next number you’ll see is “15,” which indicates the wheel size from one end to the other in inches. This is an important number to know because it tells you what size tire will fit on your vehicle’s wheels.

Decoding “95H”

At the end of the code is a combination of letters and numbers, in this case “95H.” 95 refers to the load index, which is how much weight the tire can support when properly inflated. This number is usually somewhere between 75 and 105 for passenger vehicles. The “H” represents the speed rating from A to Z, which refers to how fast the tire can go based on its load capacity. For “H” vehicles in particular, the tire can safely reach 130 miles an hour!

How to Check Tire Pressure 

One of the most essential ways to keep your vehicle running properly on the Cary roads is making sure your tires are properly inflated. It’s easy to check your tire pressure these days, as most new vehicles come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This system will notify you via your dashboard if your tires are under- or overinflated. You can either adjust your tire pressure yourself at a gas station, or we can take care of it for you at your next service appointment!

Turn to BMW of Southpoint for All Your Maintenance Needs

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What do tire numbers mean?”, you might be interested in other ways of keeping your vehicle in top condition. Check out our library of service and parts tips for more advice on properly maintaining your vehicle on the Chapel Hill roads. Feel free to contact our service center with any questions, or for more information about the services we offer at BMW of Southpoint.

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