What tyres does your car need - sizing, ratings & types explained

Charlotte Phillips, 4 months ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • howto

You’ve likely never given too much thought into exactly what tyres your car needs until you find yourself on the roadside with a puncture, when you'll either need to fit a temporary spare tyre to get you to a garage or call for roadside assistance. Once that's done, it's time to find a replacement tyre.

Having the correct sized tyres is extremely important not only for the safety of you and your passengers, but also for the overall performance of your car. Once you've found the right tyre, it's essential that you maintain it to make it last as long as possible.

How do I find out what tyres I need?

There are several different ways you can find out the type of tyre you need for your car.

The easiest way to do this is to refer to your owner’s manual. This can often be found in the glove compartment and will generally contain all of the information you need to know about your tyre sizing and specifications, as well as the tyre pressure required for your vehicle.

Alternatively, there are a few other places you can check to get all of this information:

  • Check the tyre sticker: This is usually located on the driver's side door or inside the glove compartment.

  • Online tyre size tools: If you can't find the information from the above sources or if you want to verify it, many tyre manufacturers and retailers have online tools where you can input your vehicle's make, model, and year to get a list of recommended tyre sizes. We have one on our site here, too!

  • Visit a mechanic: If you're still uncertain about the correct tyre size or want more personalised advice, you can visit a reputable tyre retailer or an automotive mechanic. They will have the expertise to help you find the right tyres for your specific vehicle and driving needs. You can find a trained mechanic in your area here.

Once you have the recommended tyre size and type, you can compare various tyre brands and models based on factors like performance, durability, price, and customer reviews.

Remember that proper tyre maintenance is essential for safety and performance. Regularly check tyre pressure, rotate the tyres as recommended in the vehicle manual, and replace them when they are worn out or damaged.

Car tyre labels explained

You may have seen car tyre labels before and at first glance, it can be confusing knowing what all of the different parts of the label mean.

Since May 2021, new labelling rules were set out under EU Regulations which highlighted more information about the safety and environmental aspects of a tyre. The new EU tyre regulations will require all tyres to have a label containing a rating for wet grip, braking performance, fuel efficiency and noise levels. 

Tyre diagram

The information tyre labels typically include are:

Tyre size

The label will indicate the tyre's size, which is expressed as a series of numbers and letters (e.g. 205/55 R16). This information helps ensure that the tyre is compatible with the vehicle.

Tyre type

The label will specify the type of tyre, such as summer tyre, winter tyre, or all-season tyre. Each type is designed to perform optimally under certain weather and road conditions.

Check out these guides for more information:

Fuel efficiency

This rating is represented by a letter grade (from A to G), where ‘A’ indicates the highest fuel efficiency, and ‘G’ indicates the lowest. A tyre with better fuel efficiency contributes to lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

Wet grip

Similar to fuel efficiency, wet grip is graded from A to G, with ‘A’ being the highest level of grip in wet conditions. A tyre with good wet grip provides better traction and shorter braking distances on wet roads.

Noise level

A single black wave denotes the quietest tyre, while three black waves indicate a louder tyre. A lower noise level contributes to a quieter and more comfortable driving experience.

Load index

The load index is a numerical code that represents the tyre's maximum load-carrying capacity. This value helps ensure that the tyre can support the vehicle's weight and the weight of its passengers.

Speed rating

The speed rating is represented by a letter code (e.g., V, W, Y) that indicates the maximum speed at which the tyre can be safely driven. It’s essential to use tyres with an appropriate speed rating for your vehicle - For example, cars used only for commuting round town will likely not need a high speed performance tyre.

Treadwear rating

The treadwear rating provides an estimate of the tyre's longevity compared to a standard reference tyre. A higher treadwear rating indicates a longer-lasting tyre.

Tyre construction

This label indicates the tyre's construction type, such as ‘radial’ or ‘bias ply’. Radial tyres are the most common type for passenger vehicles and provide better performance and fuel efficiency.

Keep in mind that tyre labels are standardised to provide consumers with essential information to make informed decisions. Understanding these labels can help you choose the right tyres that suit your driving needs and preferences. 

What do the numbers on tyres mean? Find out your tyre size and rating type

The numbers on tyres represent important information about the tyre's size, type, and performance characteristics. Typically, you can find a series of alphanumeric characters on the sidewall of the tyre.


A common tyre marking might look like this: P225/60R17 95H

- P: Indicates the tyre is intended for passenger vehicles.

- 225: The tyre's width is 225 millimeters.

- 60: The aspect ratio is 60% (height is 60% of the width).

- R: Radial construction.

- 17: The tyre fits a 17-inch rim.

- 95: The load index, indicating the tyre's maximum load capacity.

- H: The speed rating, indicating the tyre's maximum safe speed.

Use this as a key, along with the terminology descriptions above, to help you understand the size and type of tyre your car requires.

What are the best tyres for my driving style?

What tyres are good for wet roads

Some tyre manufacturers offer specific “rain” tyres designed with a tread pattern optimised for water dispersal. Oftentimes, these tyres have wider grooves to help to provide better grip on wet roads.

All-weather tyres are also a good consideration for rainy conditions. These tyres are designed to perform well in both wet and dry conditions.

Tyre brands including Uniroyal, Continental and Michelin are known to be some of the best tyre brands for rain, through their ability to prevent aquaplaning. Check out our brand reviews below for more information.

What tyres are good for snowy roads

Similarly with rain tyres, many tyre manufacturers offer snow tyres specifically designed with special studs or tread patterns to provide traction on snow-covered roads.

Tyre brands including Goodyear, Continental and Dunlop are known to produce some of the best snow tyres on the market.

Find out more about Goodyear in our brand review.

What tyres are good for long distances

When it comes to long distance driving, you’ll want a balance of comfort, durability, fuel efficiency and most importantly, reliability. 

Though being on the more expensive side, trusted tyre brands such as Continental, Michelin, Hankook and Pirelli are known to be some of the most reliable and long-lasting tyre brands for a reason.

You can learn more about Hankook and Pirelli in the following guides:

What are OE tyres?

OE tyres stands for Original Equipment tyres or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) tyres. These are the tyres that come as standard equipment on a vehicle when it is first manufactured and sold by the automaker.

Automobile manufacturers work closely with tyre manufacturers to develop specific tyres that are tailored to the vehicle's performance, handling characteristics, and safety requirements. These tyres are designed to meet the specific needs and specifications of the vehicle, providing optimal performance, fuel efficiency, and safety.

Some vehicle manufacturers that typically require OE tyres are Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover.

Once you’ve figured out the exact type of tyres your car needs, it’s time to start looking at new tyres for your car.

At WhoCanFixMyCar, we stock some of the biggest brands in the industry, with everything from premium big brands like Continental, to mid-range and budget brands like Mazzini.

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