The Tire Sidewall: What You Need to Know.

For starters, a tire sidewall will tell you everything: the brand, model, basic dimensions. You can even figure out your tire's birthday. The following illustration shows the information that can be found on most tire sidewalls:
 
Aside from the fact that it offers a variety of key facts, it's important to keep that tire sidewall in good condition. Though not always the case, any protrusions or cuts (or anything else compromising the condition of the tire) can cause performance issues if not monitored. You'll want to read "Sidewall Separations/Bubbles" and "Sidewall Indentions, Undulations and Protrusions" for more information. 

Comments

Thursday, June 7, 2012 by Robbie Kaufman

I have Pirelli P Zero (255-35-19)with several 1/4" deep gauges near the rim after hitting a curb. No bulges, no cords showing ,no loss of pressure. Do I need to replace tire (4200 miles). If so, do I need to relace good tire on the other side? Thanks.
Thursday, June 7, 2012 by Ben@tirerack

I would generally replace that tire, unless you can get a professional to inspect it and confirm that it is ok for long term use. With that few miles, you may be able to get away with just one. As long as the tread depth is within 2/32" of new replacing one would be OK. That is what I did in a similar situation.
-ben@tirerack.com
Friday, July 19, 2013 by OLD Gary

Have all the passenger car tires gone to the low profile design now? No more higher sidewall that gave a softer, smoother ride. I just noticed this & was curious or as I am getting older now a softer ride is getting more appealing. Thank You
Monday, July 22, 2013 by ben@tirerack

Gary, there are still cars with taller tires. If you are shopping for a new car, ask for the smallest wheel/tallest tire available. If they don't seem to understand, ask what wheels and tires come on the base model.
Monday, August 26, 2013 by Erik

Not being computer savvy (no patience with searching for the exact icon I need), how do I quickly find the sidewall construction or ply while on tirerack.com looking at products? Seems simple enough yet I can't find it.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 by Tire Rack Team

Erik, This information is typically found under the "Product Description" tab of the tire you're viewing.
Sunday, September 29, 2013 by DJ

The low profile tires on my 07 wrx damage so easily. I wonder if I was to go to a taller tire on a 16 inch rim, will the taller sidewall be any more durable than that of the stock size tire on the 17 inch rim?
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 by ben@tirerack

DJ, going to a smaller 16" wheel and taller tire will give some extra protection from damage while still retaining correct overall diameter.
Monday, August 15, 2016 by Greggory Brauer

The OEM tires on my older-model car were 195/65R14. I'd like to increase to a 205 or 215 width, thereby dropping the aspect ratio to 60, T or U tire. (Wheel well will take the extra width.) I want to keep the current 14 wheels to maintain the look of the car. Would a higher load index give me more sidewall stiffness to support the wider contact patch? If so, any product recommendations? Thanks a million.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 by Tire Rack Team

Greggory, A higher load index will give slightly higher sidewall stiffness.

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