Ever wondered what that information on the little label on the inside of your driver’s car door is telling you, or why it’s even there, pretty much staring you in the face every time you get in or out of the vehicle or open the door?
Tyre Placards (as these labels are called) may seem to be one of those boring and insignificant pieces of detail in a vehicle, and at a glance they could be a little technical and hard to decipher. However, while we often pay little attention to the information they contain until we need it, the truth is that they are not just there to look pretty or because the manufacturer felt there was an empty gap to fill. The fact is, in Australia tyre placards are actually a legal requirement and since 1973 they come fitted in all new passenger, 4×4 and light truck vehicles. 4×4 vehicles sometimes display two placards to cover both passenger and light-truck fitment, depending on how the vehicle is being utilised.
Tyre placards are always there, where and when they’re needed
Easy to find on the panel on the inside of the driver’s door, or alternatively on the inside of the glovebox or inside the fuel cover – tyre placards include vital information such as the optimal tyre pressures for the safe running of our vehicle as well as for our safety on the road. There’s also a reason they are “stuck” in such a visual place. Their prominent position on the vehicle, means they can’t be lost, staying safely in place when the vehicle changes hands – and always there when you need them most. Whether you find yourself in a remote spot in the Outback, you’re down the local shops or even just in your own garage with a flat and needing vital information about your tyres, the tyre placard is right at hand without you having to hunt around.
Tyre placards are not just a lot of hot air
Importantly too, tyre placards are not just useful for simple air pressure details. The data they display includes information about the wheel and tyre combinations as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer as well as size, correct tyre pressures for the listed tyre sizes (both front and rear) and the increased pressures necessary for additional loads. They also show speed ratings and capacity (maximum load) ratings as specified by the manufacturer.
While it is vital for safety reasons that the inflation pressures for the tyres in use are adhered to at all times, any new tyre fitted to a vehicle (that differs from the tyre originally fitted by the manufacturer) must also meet the relevant minimum load index. This vital information also appears on the very useful tyre placard! Although it is recommended that the speed index also meets that of the original tyres on the placard, this is not a legal requirement and minimum speed indexes are covered by state legislation.
Tyre placards come in handy when replacing a tyre
You may also find it useful to refer to the placard if you are replacing a tyre – as it will show the wheel and tyre combinations recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. If changing the tyre size fitted to a vehicle, it is important that the tyre is suitable as per the relevant state legislation. When changing tyre size, a new recommendation for minimum tyre pressure will need to be calculated. Always refer to the tyre placard before making such changes – as it will provide vital information to help with this process.
To cross-check the information on the tyre placard with your tyres (if you are unsure they are actually the right ones for the vehicle) – the tyre sidewall will provide all the relevant information about the tyres currently on your vehicle.
Different placards for different vehicle types
While much of the type of information included on tyre placards is similar, it makes sense that tyre placards differ for different types of vehicles. 4WD’s for example may be required to carry two placards containing information for two different types of tyre fitment — passenger and light-truck. The information the two placards contain, however, still covers key information about the tyres which usually includes their relationship to rims – as well as tyre pressures and all-important load ratings.
Tyre placards also differ according to a vehicle’s functionality and manufacturer. Here are some examples of tyre placards for Passenger Cars and 4×4/Light-Truck vehicles to give you an idea of what they look like and some of the key differences.
Details on tyre placards
Looking at the images above, here’s a recap of some important points to note:
- The placard’s headline reminds us as to what the overall aim of the information is, i.e. “Recommended Tyre and Rim Sizes and Inflation Pressures kPA (Psi) Cold”
- The placard will then show specific information relating to the vehicle, generally under the following categories:
- Tyre Size Designation (which gives you the tyre size eg. 205/65 R15)
- Rim Code (eg. 6J)
- Pressure for Normal Load: Front and Rear
- Pressure for Maximum Load: Front and Rear
- Minimum Load Index
- Speed Rating
- Mention will also be made of additional loads (such as towing) – for which it will likely refer you to the vehicle owner’s manual for more details.