You find your tire size on the side of your tire. You'll see a number like P215/55R17 97V. The 215 is the width in mm, 55 is the aspect ratio and 17 is the diameter.
What the Numbers in Tire Sizes Mean
The numbers in tire sizes represent the width in mm, aspect ratio, and diameter in inches. There are also numbers and letters representing the type of tire, construction type, load index, and other details.
It's easy to find your tire size on the side of the tire, but it is a good idea to double check the information on the side of the tire you are replacing, with the vehicle manufacturer recommendations.
Using the following sidewall marking cheat sheet, we can investigate what does P215/55R17 97V tire size mean.
P = Passenger car tire
The first letter on a tire indicates the tire’s class. P designates this tire as a passenger car tire, an LT before the tire size would mean the tire is a light truck tire. Be sure to review our article on how to check your tire treads.
215 = Section Width, or Tread (mm)
The section width is the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other measured in millimeters.
55 = Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratio is the ratio of sidewall height to the width of the tire in a percent. The height of the tire is 55% of 215 mm, or 118.25 mm (or 4.65 inches high).
R = Radial
This means the layers run radially across the tire. instead of say, a bias-ply tire where the plies are crossed.
17 = Wheel Diameter
Wheel diameter is the size of the wheel that the tire is intended to fit on.
97 = Load Index
Load Index indicates the maximum load carrying capacity of the tire. It is very important to only install tires with a load index that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specification.
V = Speed Rating
The speed rating designates the maximum speed at which a properly installed and inflated tire can be driven on. In this example, the speed rating is V which means it can be driven at speeds up to 149 mph (240 kph).
What 225/50R17 Means
The number 225 identifies the tire section width (the measurement of the tire from sidewall to sidewall in millimeters). This tire has an aspect ratio of 50 means that the tire's section height is 50% of the tire's section width. R indicates the construction used within the tires casing, in this case "radial construction."
The Difference Between an Exact Match and a Compatible Alternative
An Exact match means the tire your looking at has exactly the same characteristics proposed by the manufacture of your vehicle, while a compatible alternative may have a higher load index or higher speed rating.
An Exact Match means that the manufacturer proposed tire for your vehicle has exactly the same characteristics as you entered in your search. The section width, aspect ratio, rim diameter as well as the load index and speed ratings match exactly.
These are tires which may have a load index that is higher than what you have entered in your search, or a higher speed rating. These tires are compatible and it is safe to replace tires with those having a HIGHER load index or a HIGHER speed rating.
Tire Size Checklist
Always check the size molded on the side of the tire against the information on the sticker on the inside of the driver's side door post to ensure you are buying the size of tire intended for the vehicle. If you're trying to find your tire size, here's a handy checklist to get you started:
Check your tire sidewall and note down the series of numbers, and the alphanumeric symbols after the size. For example, P215/55R17 97V, or LT265/70R17 LRE in the case of a light truck tire. Compare this information to the tire size information on the driver’s side door jamb. On most vehicles, there is a sticker displaying the tire size that came fitted on the vehicle from the factory. In older models, and a few European vehicles, the original tire size could be on a sticker on the wall of the glove box, or on the inside of the fuel tank hatch. Can’t find the sticker on your car door? The owner’s manual is another good place to go for information on your tire size. The manual typically has the recommended tire size for all the different trim levels of the vehicle’s make and models.
Need Help With Your Tire Size?
If you need help finding your tire size, give us a call toll-free at 1 833 885-8575 and our friendly customer service agents are there to assist you.