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Help Me Choose The Right Tyre

Find the Size on Your Tyre

A tyre's sidewall is simply the outer and inner "walls" on the sides of a tyre. Every sidewall has its own unique information that is divided into three main sections:

Tyre Type

Type of vehicle for various tyre fittings:
P: Passenger metric
LCV: Light Commercial Vehicle
T: Temporary Spare
ST: Special Trailers
If your tyre has no letter, it signifies that your tyre is a euro “metric” size.

Tyre Width or Section Width

Width of the tyre (or thickness) in is measured in millimetres from a tyre’s widest point of its outer sidewall to the widest point of its inner sidewall. Why millimetres? It originated in Europe, which uses the metric system.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the relationship between the tyre’s sidewall height and the tyre’s width. In this example, the sidewall height of the tyre is 55% of its width. The lower the ratio, the smaller the sidewall height, which means better cornering, but rougher ride. Although not ideal for driving comfort, it does offer safe driving characteristics.


This indicates the tyre’s internal construction. They can be “Radial” like most tyres, or D, for “Diagonal construction” or B, for “Belted”.*

Wheel Diameter

The number is represented in inches and indicates the diameter of the wheel on which the tyre is designed to fit.

Load Index

This indicates how much weight the tyre is certified to carry at maximum safe inflation. Numbers refer to a chart that specify the load capacity that the tyre can carry. For example 97 = 730 kg. See the Load index chart.

Speed Rating

This indicates the maximum safe speed at which a tyre is certified to carry a load under specified conditions. Speed ratings range from A (lowest) to Y (highest), with one exception: H falls between U and V. To find the maximum speed for your tyre, refer to the speed rating chart. Exceeding the lawful speed limit is neither recommended nor endorsed.

DOT - Department Of Transportation Safety Code

This assures that our tyre complies with all Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards. After the DOT insignia is your tyre's identification number, which begins with the tyre's manufacturer and plant code where the tyre was manufactured (two numbers or letters). The ninth and tenth characters tell the week the tyre was manufactured. The final number(s) signifies the year the tyre was manufactured.


Department of Transportation Safety Code.


Tyre's Manufacturer and plant code.


Denotes tyre size.


Optional characters that identify brand and other significant characteristics of the tyre.


Denotes week the tyre was produced.


Denotes year the tyre was manufactured.


Find your tyre size in your vehicle owner’s manual or on your car door

Find the information in your vehicle owner’s manual in the glove compartment or on the tyre information sticker on the inside of your driver’s side door. Usually those elements contain all the information relating to your tyre size and specifications, as well as the appropriate tyre pressure. This information ensures that you are able to maintain tyre performance and safe driving capacity.

See the “Find your tyre size on your tyre” tab for a full description of the numbers and letters.

What are OE tyres?

OE stands for “Original Equipment”, meaning that the tyres were approved by your vehicle manufacturer. and are the tyres that come standard on your vehicle. This is to ensure that the safe driving capacity and design of the vehicle is not compromised.

Some vehicle manufacturers, such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and others, equip their vehicles with tyres that are specifically made for their brand. These tyres have a special OE marking on the sidewall. In this case, MICHELIN recommends replacing the tyres on your vehicle only with tyres that are equipped with necessary OE marking.

Table of OE Markings by Vehicle Brand:

 = BMW, Mini
MO = Mercedes
AO = Audi
VO = Volkswagen
N0, N1, N2, N3, N4 = Porsche

What Should I Think About When Choosing a Tyre?

Once you know what size tyres can fit your car, you need to be able to choose between the different types of tyres. Tyres may look similar, but they can be optimised to perform for very different conditions and usages.


Think about the following:

  1. What weather conditions do I drive in? What are the worst situations that I may face?
  2. Where will I be driving? City streets, long motorways or forest tracks require different performance characteristics.
  3. What is your driving style: do you like to feel every curve or be cushioned from the road?

Read the rest of our tips to dive deeper into each question.

What Type of Roads?

Different usage conditions require different tyre characteristics that exhibit a variation of tyre innovation designs and technologies.

For mainly city driving, look for:

  • Braking distance: use tyres with the optimum braking distance, on both dry and wet roads.
  • Longevity: city driving with its numerous stops and starts puts great demands on the tyre. Choose tyres with increased longevity.
  • Fuel economy: tyres with low rolling resistance save fuel.

For mainly road or motorway driving, look for:

  • Braking distance at high speed: for maximum safety, select tyres that provide optimum braking distance on both dry and wet roads.
  • Comfort: for long trips, choose tyres that offer comfort both in terms of vibration and noise level.
  • Handling: select tyres that provide excellent grip and stability.

What Is My Driving Style?

To make sure that experience tyre innovation at its best, look for tyres that match the way that you like to drive.

If you like a quiet and comfortable ride, look for tyres that specifically mention comfort, a smooth ride or low road noise. Generally speaking, tyres with a lower speed rating (S, T or H ratings on the sidewall) are optimised for comfort instead of more speed – but never go below the speed rating specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle. Also, avoid aggressive tread designs – they may look aesthetically appealing but can generate a lot of road noise.

If you like to feel every curve of the road, look for tyres that mention great handling or steering precision.
These are often called high-performance tyres and have higher speed ratings, meaning that they are optimised to provide better control and a more precise ride.

What are "tyre performance characteristics"?

To ensure effectiveness, tyres need to deliver numerous, often conflicting, performance characteristics.
Improving one of these performances must not be to the detriment of the others. Safe and reliable tyres are of utmost importance to MICHELIN.

Continue to:

How do I choose between versions of a tyre line?

Each of our tyre lines is made in a selection of sizes to fit appropriate vehicles.

Sometimes a tyre line will have several versions of the same tyre size but with different technical specifications such as speed ratings (i.e. S, T, H, V, W, Y, etc.), load index (i.e.: 91, 94, XL, etc.) or OE markings (designating that a version was specifically designed for a vehicle manufacturer, i.e.:   = BMW or Mini, MO = Mercedes, etc). These technical specifications are important details that can determine whether or not that version is compatible with your vehicle and the way you drive.

If several versions are compatible with your vehicle, we recommend that you choose the version with the same specifications as your original equipment tyres.

You can also safely select a version with higher speed rating or load index; however, higher speed or load capability can negatively impact upon tread life and ride comfort.

Can I buy a tyre size that is different from the one that was originally on my vehicle?

For maximum safety, MICHELIN recommends that you only replace your tyres with the same size tyre that is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Some advice

  • Never choose a tyre that is smaller in size or has less load-carrying capacity than the tyre that came with the vehicle.
  • Tyres should always be replaced with the same size designation — or approved options — as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • The correct tyre size can be found on the sticker in the door’s vehicle or on the markings on the sidewall.

Can I mix different types of tyres?

Read these tips before mixing tyre tyres:

  • For maximum safety and best all-around tyre performance, the same type of tyre should always be used on all four wheel positions.
  • Mixing tyres of different size designations, constructions and stages of wear may affect vehicle handling and stability.
  • The one exception to this rule are vehicles that were intentionally fitted by the vehicle manufacturer with different size tyres on the front and rear axles.

Four-wheel drive vehicles

If no instructions for tyre mixing appear in the vehicle owner’s manual, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not mix sizes. All four tyres must be the same tyre size.
  • Do not mix radial and bias-ply tyres. All four must be either radial or bias-ply.
  • Be sure that the outside circumferences of all four tyres are within 1” of each other.
  • Do not mix tread patterns, such as all-terrain and all-season.

Don’t mix radial and non-radial tyres

However, if mixing tyres is unavoidable, the two radials must be installed on the rear axle and the two non-radials on the front axle. This will ensure that you get the best tyre performance out of you purchase while also maintaining safe driving capacity.

Can I buy tyres with different speed ratings?

Yes, you can buy tyres with equal or greater speed ratings than your original equipment tyres. However, tyre speed ratings make a difference not only with regard to speed, but also with regards to drive comfort, wear and cornering ability.

The impact of a higher speed rating:

Typically, the higher the speed rating, the better the grip and stopping power, but the lower the tread life.

The impact of a lower speed rating:

Although we don’t recommend it, if you use a tyre with a speed rating lower than your vehicle’s original tyres, you will reduce your vehicle’s top speed limit to the tyres’ speed rating.

The handling of a performance vehicle may be different when the replacement tyres are not of the same speed rating. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to identify any tyre speed rating restriction that could affect operation of the vehicle.

Can you mix different speed ratings on your vehicle?

For the best tyre performance, use the same size and type of tyre on all four wheel positions. But if you do mount tyres with different speed ratings on your vehicle, make sure that the lower speed-rated tyres should always be placed on the front axle. This is to prevent potential over-steering (your vehicle doesn’t follow your steering, turns more sharply and may spin).

How to read speed ratings:

Tyre speed ratings range from A (the lowest) to Y (the highest). However, the chart is not completely in alphabetical order. For example, H for high speed is between U and V.

Can I change my load capacity?

  • You can only mount a tyre of equivalent load or higher load than indicated for your vehicle.
  • The higher the tyre's load index number, the greater its load-carrying capacity. Typically, the load indexes of the tyres used on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles range from 70 to 130.

Can I mount just two new tyres?

Yes – however Michelin recommends replacing all four tyres at the same time.

Some advice

  • When replacing only two new tyres, be sure that the new tyres are the same size and tyre type as the current tyres
  • Make sure that the dealer always installs the new tyres on the rear axle of the vehicle. The new tyres will provide better grip in wet conditions than your older tyres. This will help to reduce the potential for the vehicle of fish-tailing and losing stability in wet conditions

Should I buy restored tyres?

Avoid second-hand tyres. You never know what hazards and abuse a previously owned tyre has suffered. Internal damage can lead to dangerous tyre failure. It is always important to remember that safe and reliable tyres are your best bet, especially on South Africa roads.

What Information Should I Prepare Before Going?

The more prepared that you are before visiting the dealer, the more assured you can be to find the right tyre for your driving needs and have confidence in your purchase.

First, make sure that you know what tyre size is compatible with your vehicle using our Tyre Selector tool, looking at your current tyres, or in your vehicle’s manual or tyre information door sticker.

Show me where

Next, think about what you need your tyres to be able to do for you, what weather or road conditions you drive in, and the manner in which you like to drive.

If you’ve done all of this using our Tyre Selector tool, you can easily print out your search information or send it to your mobile/e-mail. The information pack will have all the information on your search, your selected product and other compatible alternatives.

Five questions to ask the dealer

  1. What type of tyres do you recommend for my vehicle and my specific driving needs (weather conditions, types of roads, driving style, etc.)?
  2. For that type of tyre, what specific product do you recommend?
  3. Why do you recommend this tyre over others?
  4. Does its price include mounting and balancing?
  5. Are any other services included?

Keep in mind:

  • If a tyre that you’ve selected is not immediately available at your dealer, you can always ask them to order it. It may be available in just one or two days.
  • Remember that a good price is not always good value: a tyre that lasts longer, helps you to save on fuel and keeps you safe in every condition is better value in the long term.