Tire Buying Guides

Tire serial number: What it is & how to read it

Last updated 11/03/2023 - Originally published 9/22/2020
Written by SimpleTire

What is a tire serial number?

In an effort to make the roads safer, tires manufactured for use and sale in the United States have a DOT number which includes the tire serial number. The DOT number, tire identification number, or tire serial number allows the United States Department of Transportation to monitor the quality of the parts used on vehicles. The number also helps drivers know when a part they use has been recalled. All too often, drivers miss tire recalls.

Shopping for tires can be a daunting task. That's why SimpleTire is here to help make it easier. We'll tell you how to find the tire serial number and read the information on the side of every tire. Whether they're manufactured for use in the United States, Europe, or Asia, tires have important information printed on their sidewalls. There are a variety of codes, including one for the tire size. The tire serial number is the stamp of approval by the United States Department of Transportation.

A DOT number appears on every tire approved for use in the United States. Fortunately, reading the tire serial number is a simple process. It aids in the overall understanding of tires, tire manufacturing, and tire age.

Locating the tire serial number

In order to read the tire serial number, you'll first need to find the letters DOT on the side of the tire. The serial number is smaller than the tire size code. After the DOT, you'll find a series of numbers and letters. The tire serial number location is the sidewall, which contains a host of other information as well.

Reading the tire serial number

  • The first set of letters represents the tire's manufacturing plant.
  • The second set of letters represents the size code.
  • There may be a block of numbers and letters that represents the type of tire. This is an optional listing.
  • The final four digits represent the week and year the tire was manufactured. For example, a listing that reads 1810 would represent the 18th week of 2010.

This tire serial number allows you to easily track your tires. When you hear of a recall, a quick tire serial number lookup and a physical inspection of the tires will tell you if you need to pay attention to necessary maintenance or replacement issues.

Knowing about the DOT serial number will help you maintain the tires well. Beginning from the year 2000, four numbers are used to denote the Date of Manufacture. Here’s an example- DOT AF WD9E 0517. In this case, 05 indicates the tire was manufactured in the 5th week of the particular year. 17 at the end denotes the year of manufacture, this one being 2017. A tire serial number decoder can also break down the DOT serial number to give you the year, week, and month of the tire, although you already know this now.

Additional Information Near the Tire Serial Number

The information listed on a tire (in addition to the serial number) will provide the specifications of the tire, including size, load capability, and speed rating. These listings may vary based on manufacturer or the type of tire. However, just as the serial number is easy to understand, so are these figures. A better understanding of this tire code will help you buy new tires.

Tips on how to maintain your tires based on the serial number code

Maintaining your tires is vital to maximizing their performance and longevity, and checking the serial number is a great way to keep your tires in good condition. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Inflate tires as per recommended pressures from the car manufacturer
  2. If the tire is meant to be used at high speeds (Z is for high speed), it can be driven at high speeds. For a tire with a lower speed rating, driving at high speeds continuously will lead to reduction in life. Similarly, putting too much load in the vehicle that is not denoted in the code can cause deformities in tire shape.
  3. The right wheel size must be used for the tire
  4. Do not buy a passenger tire for a commercial vehicle or vice versa

The numbers and letters on a tire’s sidewall can be confusing, but they really don’t have to be. The tire serial number is one of the many items on the sidewall, and this number allows drivers to know when and where the tire was engineered to help track recalls and safety issues. Additionally, a tire serial number can let a driver know how they need to maintain their tires to get the most out of their purchase.

No, a new tire cannot be registered with the old serial number even if they are both from the same manufacturer and model year. Registration is primarily meant to track a tire when there is a recall, and registering a unique number will prevent duplication.

To maximize safety by being aware of high wear rate and loss of grip, vehicle owners must know about tire age and specifications.

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