Car Tires 101: What Every Car Owner Should Know

Car Tires 101 What every car owner should know

Your tires are the only thing sitting between your car and the road. It is important to know about your tires, how the treads are doing, are they properly inflated and what those numbers on the side really mean.

Optimal tire performance and fuel economy can only be achieved by maintaining correct tire pressure. Your tires will last longer and wear more evenly if they are properly inflated. You will probably even notice a more comfortable ride. The tread and sidewall of your tires will also stay functionally where they are supposed to if you keep the tires at a proper level of inflation.

Underinflated tires can’t maintain their proper circle shape and compact or become flatter than they are supposed to be. Underinflation by as little as six pounds per square inch could lead to a tire failing which can have tragic implications depending on the circumstances.

Testing has shown underinflated tires wear out up to 25 per cent faster. Overinflating tires isn’t any better. A tire’s footprint is reduced when it is overinflated. Overfull tires can be damaged more easily by potholes. They also provide a harsher ride.

Car Tires 101: What Every Car Owner Should Know

Your vehicle’s operating manual will tell you the proper inflation level for your tires. As a side note, have you ever wondered what the numbers and letters on the side or your tire mean.

Here’s the explanation .


The P means passenger. These tires are designed for passenger vehicles. You may also see LT instead of P. These are light-truck tires. A tire with a T to start is a temporary spare to be used in emergencies only.

The 195 indicates the millimeters across the widest point of the outer sidewall to the widest point of the inner sidewall when mounted.

The 50 indicates the tire size’s sidewall height (from rim to tread) is 50% of its section width. For those who like performance low-profile tires, the smaller the number, the lower the profile.

The R simply means radial for the type of construction of the tire.

The 16 represents the rim size.

Hopefully you will understand a little bit more about the rubber that is sitting between your car and the road.

Few things are as frustrating as blowing a tire when you are in a hurry. This has happened to me several times since I got my license 19 years ago. But it doesn’t have to be a major issue. Some people have services to help them in such cases. There are fees but a lot of people feel it is worth it, my wife included.

If you are more of a ‘do it yourself’ type person, check out our guest post on Car Maintenance at 100 Miles.


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