Tire ratings are standardized ratings which are used to convey information to consumers about tire safety and the appropriate conditions for specific types of tires. Some ratings are printed right on the tire, while others can be found in databases maintained by government agencies which perform tire ratings. When purchasing tires, people should definitely research their ratings, as getting tires with the right rating can save time, make a car safer, and improve performance.
A great deal of information is printed on a tire, including the size and type. Additionally, a brief number/letter combination such as 90T is printed on the tire to provide information about its load index and speed index. These two tire ratings indicate how much weight the tire can bear, and the maximum speed at which it can safely be used. As a general rule, the higher the load/speed index, the better. Charts are available to convert load and speed indexes: in the example above, the tire can carry 1,323 pounds (600 kilograms), and travel at 118 miles per hour (kilometers per hour).
Other tire ratings include treadwear ratings, which show how long it will take for the tire to wear down, with higher ratings being more desirable, and traction ratings, demonstrating how well the tire performs in wet conditions. Finally, temperature ratings which are determined by testing the tire in high temperature conditions can also be very valuable. The higher rating, the better the tire quality.
Different applications call for different ratings. Someone who does a lot of freeway driving in the desert wants a car with a high speed index, high treadwear rating, and high temperature rating. Someone who hauls primarily heavy loads around town might be more concerned with the load index. Some auto manufacturers also provide recommendations about tire ratings in their manuals or on the door placards, so that drivers can choose the right tires.
A reputable tire shop should be able to provide information about tire ratings and help consumers select the best tires for their car if they aren't sure about what kind of tires to get. Consumers should remember that high quality tires can get expensive, but these tires often pay for themselves because they last longer, help cars run more efficiently, and contribute to overall safety. In addition to buying the right tires for a car, it is also important to remember to maintain them and keep them properly inflated.