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Understanding Tires

Tread Pattern:

The tread on a tire can tell you a lot about what kind of tire it is and how it is likely to perform in various conditions.

  1. Sipes
    • More sipes — higher wet traction
    • Solid blocks — better tear resistance in gravel, etc.
  2. Lateral grooves
    • Open — improved mud, sand and snow traction
    • Closed — quiet and higher cornering power on highway
  3. Shoulder blocks
    • Open — higher traction
    • Closed — quiet and higher cornering on highway
  4. Centre rib
    • Solid — responsive highway handling
    • No rib (lugs) — higher traction
  5. Circumferential grooves
    • Wide and clear — improved water dispersion at highway speeds
    • Zigzag and lugs — improved off road and snow traction

DOT markings

The U.S. Department of Transportation markings signify that the tire meets DOT tire-safety standards. The DOT markings help track the tire in the same way a lot number tracks a food product.

  • The first two characters designate the tire manufacturer and plant code. This could be important if the tire receives a safety recall.
  • Characters three and four denote the tire size.
  • The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth (optional) characters identify the brand as well as other characteristics important to the manufacturer.
  • The final four numbers denote the date the tire was produced. The first two indicate the week, and the last numbers specify the year.

Sipes

  • More sipes — higher wet traction
  • Solid blocks — better tear resistance in gravel, etc. Lateral grooves
  • Open — improved mud, sand and snow traction, higher traction
  • Closed — quiet and higher cornering power on highway Shoulder blocks, Centre rib
  • Solid — responsive highway handling
  • No rib (lugs) — higher traction Circumferential grooves
  • Wide and clear — improved water dispersion at highway speeds
  • Zigzag and lugs — improved off road and snow traction