Plan Insurance Blog

Get to grips with your tyres

We are now approaching the wonderful winter weather, and did you know that October is Tyre Safety Month?

So I thought it would be a good idea to talk about what the markings on tyres mean, and highlight the importance of having the right tyres on your vehicle.

The Code

Some of you may already know what these markings mean, but I am sure there are some who do not know what those numbers and letters stand for on the sidewall of their tyres.

Looking at the image below you will see a code: “205/45   R 17   88 V”

Tyre codes explained Plan Insurance Brokers

So what does this mean?

In the table below, we have broken down each section explaining what each number/letter means.

Sidewall MarkingExplanation
205This shows how wide the tyre is in millimetres
45This shows the height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the width. In this case 45% of 205mm. This is also known as the aspect ratio
RThis shows how the tyre was constructed. In this case it is a radial but you can also find a ”D for diagonal bias ply” (Most modern cars run on radial tyres)
17This shows the diameter of the tyre’s inner rim in inches
88This indicates the Load Rating of the tyre and in this case it’s 560kg. (Check here to see the full list)
VThis indicates the maximum speed for the tyre; when at full load. In this case it is 149mph.  (Check here to see the full list)

Why is this important?

Having the wrong tyres on your car can cause many problems and issues. For example; it can have an impact on your vehicle’s handling and make it dangerous to drive; it can impact your cars performance and it can also impact your vehicle’s economy/fuel consumption.

Not only can it impact your car in several ways, fitting the wrong tyres on your vehicle can invalidate your insurance and could mean in the event of a claim you might not get paid. This means it is extremely important to fit the correct tyres to your car.

There are several online sources you can where you can check what type of tyres you should have on your car. However it is always good to check in your owners’ handbook or the vehicle manufacturer to confirm, as this is what your insurer will check.

What else to look out for – Top 5

In addition to fitting the right size and grade tyre, since it is tyre safety month here are our top 5 checks we would recommend you do to ensure tyre safety:

  1. Check your tyre tread depth.
    If the depth is below 1.6mm across 75% not only is this unsafe, but you could face penalty points on your licence and a fine of up to £2,500.
  1. Check overall condition of tyres.
    Make sure there are no cracks or lumps which should not be there.
    Any weakness in the tyre could cause it to lose pressure quickly or event burst, which could lead to losing control whilst on the road.
  1. Check tyre pressures.
    Having the wrong tyre pressure significantly shortens the lifespan of the tyre.
    It also results in using more fuel and can increase the wear on the tyre.
  1. Check for signs of irregular wear.
    This means the wheel balance could be off, the wheel not being fitted correctly or an issue with your suspension.
    All of which are not safe to be driving with.
  1. Check your spare tyre.
    Lastly if you have a spare tyre make sure it is checked, so that in the event of an emergency it can be used.

Tyres are often over looked when it comes to vehicle maintenance. But remember – they are the only thing which connects you to the road in your car.