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  • Tire Tech 102: Numbers and Ratings

    In the previous course -- Tire Tech 101: Dimensions -- we explained what some of the most common information printed on a tire's sidewall meant.  Now that you've aced that class and are ready to graduate to the big leagues, we're going to look at some of the smaller print on your tires, and also chat a little about tire designations you might see on various websites or in the stores.

    But first, a minor digression:

    Uniform Tire Quality Grading System, or UTQGS

    The United States government established the UTQGS (Uniform Tire Quality Grading System) to assist consumers in understanding -- at least at a basic level -- the quality of the tires they can buy.  It looks at three areas:

    • Treadwear
    • Traction
    • Temperature

    These three areas are graded during safety and inspection tests, and are printed both on the tire's sidewall and on the paper labels affixed to each tire's tread when they are to be sold to consumers, so that you can easily find the information.

    So, digression over, here's where Tire Tech 102 truly begins:

    Tire Ratings

    Tire Ratings


    This is a comparative rating -- usually within brands -- of the useful life of a tire's treads under controlled conditions.  Because one manufacturer may grade something as a 400 (which means it will last twice as long as a tire graded 200) and another manufacturer might grade essentially the same tire as 300 (lasts twice as long as a 150 grade wheel), it's not very useful when comparing tires made by different companies.  And you have to take into account that you probably won't be driving in scientifically controlled conditions, so who knows what kind of elements might reduce tread performance.

    Tread Depth

    Tread Depth


    Graded AA, A, B, or C (from highest to lowest, respectively), this is a measure of the tire's stopping ability on wet pavement.  This doesn't take into account turning performance or any vehicle-based stopping performance, and is yet another test done under scientifically controlled situations, so it's really just a comparison rating.

    Temperature Resistance

    Resistance to heat and ability to dissipate heat are important  because tires are constantly under friction (which, as any physicist knows, creates heat), and surrounded by even more friction (brakes on wheels, for instance).  The grades from highest to lowest are A, B, and C, with C being the minimum required performance under federal safety standards.

    Other Designations

    There are several other designations, some of which can be found on the tire, others which might not be.  These include:

    • Service Designation: A designation of "M&S" somewhere on the tire means it is rated by the manufacturer as suitable for use in mud and snow, with guidelines set by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) in the U.S.
    • All-Season Designation: This is basically saying that the tires meet the "M&S" service designation (above) without the drawbacks of noise or rolling resistance that comes with some winter tires.  Passenger and light trucks might also meet criteria that provide superior snow performance, usually designated by a mountain/snowflake symbol on the tire.
    • D.O.T. or DOT Code: This is a numeric code (sometimes alphanumeric) that indicates the manufacturer, plant where the tire was produced, tire line, tire size, and the week/year of manufacture.
    • Maximum Pressure / Load: All tires are marked on the sidewalls with the maximum load capacity in pounds, as well as the maximum inflation pressure (just look for "P.S.I.").  Truck tires have dual and single application recommended pressure for maximum loads.


    Was this course on Tire Tech useful?  Let us know in the comments below!

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  • SEMA 2010 Look Back and Random Pix

    SEMA 2010

    SEMA 2010

    SEMA 2010, baby!

    As always, Las Vegas played host to SEMA 2010, and L.A. Wheel and Tire sent our minions -- Joe and Robert -- to scope out the sights, make the contacts, and chat it up with hundreds of thousands of automotive enthusiasts from all over the world.  Whether you're into wheels and tires, grilles and headlights, or full on automobiles, SEMA is pretty much Heaven on Earth if you like anything automotive related.

    Here's a slideshow featuring some pieces of their journey: new cars, hot rods, babes, shiny chrome, sleek colors, lights, and a gazillion people living it up in Las Vegas!

    Click the square in the bottom right-hand corner to full screen

    these pix and get the most out of 'em!


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  • Wheel Bolt Patterns: Plymouth

    First of all, "bolt pattern" is defined in our article Wheel Tech 101: Measurements.  Put simply, it's a measurement -- often written like "5x114.3" -- that tells you two things:

    • The "5" tells you how many bolt holes the wheel has, and
    • The "114.3" indicates the diameter of the bolt circle (see Wheel Tech 101 for more on that).

    Note: if a wheel has two listed bolt patterns, it is NOT an OEM wheel; all OEM wheels only have one bolt pattern.

    This article provides a comprehensive listing of Plymouth bolt patterns.  Check out our other Fitment articles for other brands.

    If you are looking for a particular Year/Model, please take the following steps:

    1. Press the [CTRL] key and the [F] key at the same time ([CMD] + [F] if you're a Mac user).
    2. A search box will open (usually at the bottom or top of your browser).
    3. Type in the MODEL that you are looking for (i.e. "Sundance").
    4. When you find your model, look at the header immediately above to make sure you're in the right Year for that Model.

    5 x 4 (same as 5 x 100)

    1986-1993 Acclaim

    1984-1994 Sundance

    1996-2000 Breeze

    1986-1995 Voyager 4 Cylinder

    1996-2000 Voyager


    If you are shopping for wheels, please visit us at:

    www.LAWHEEL.com or call

    1-800-584-2832 (toll free in the U.S.) or (818)-626-8867


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