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What is a Tire Service Description?

What does a tire’s service description mean?

A tire’s service description describes a tire’s load range and speed index- and it’s right there on your tire!  The first step is knowing where to look, and the second, what to look for on your tire. On the sidewall of most tires, you will be able to find your tire’s size, indicated by a set of three numbers (ex. 225/50-R16).

Typically, the service description is printed right after the tire size, and can be recognized by a number followed by a letter (ex. 92 V). In this example, the 92 will represent the load index of the tire, in other words the amount of weight each tire can support. The higher the number is in the service description, the more weight the tire can support. The load range on most passenger vehicles and light trucks ranges from 70 to 110. A load index of 70 indicates a maximum capacity, per tire, of approximately 750 pounds, while a load index of 110 indicates a maximum capacity, per tire, of 1060 pounds. On some tires designed for light trucks that have two tires running in a dual pair, there will be two different numbers separated by a slash (ex. 103/100). In this example, the first number will indicate the maximum capacity of a tire running on a single-wheel axel, and the second number will be the maximum capacity when running in a dual pair.

In the previous example of 92 V, the V will represent the speed rating of the tire, meaning the maximum safe speed the tires can travel at. Similar to load index, the speed rating increases the further into the alphabet they are. For example, a tire with a speed rating Y will be able to travel at faster speeds than a tire with a V rating. Most passenger vehicles and light truck tires range in speed rating from L to Y, but the W and Y speed ratings are mostly designated for high performance sports cars. To put speed rating in perspective, a tire with an L rating will be able to safely travel up to 75mph, while a tire with a Y rating will be able to travel up to 186mph. The speed rating increases in increments of approximately 6mph between letters.

When purchasing a tire for your vehicle, it is always important to look at your current tire’s service description, to make sure that the tires you are buying have an equivalent rating or higher.