What Does 97W Mean On a Tire? (Explained)

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If it were on an electronics device, 97w would mean “97 Watts,” but this is a car tire and that “W” means something else entirely. But what does 97W mean on a tire?

Well, it’s not rocket science. It’s all about tire “Speed Ratings” and “Load Indexes.” It is a tire coding that indicates the tire’s speed and load index rating.

The manufacturing date, load index, speed rating, and much other important information about automobile tires are clearly printed on tires’ sidewalls.

If your car’s stock tires are rated 97W, it is important to stick with 97W tires when replacing them. To better understand the meaning on 97W on your car tires, hereunder is a concise overview of tire speed rating and load index.

What Is Tire Speed Rating and Load Index?

The speed rating of a tire refers to the maximum speed the tire is expected to run. If you exceed the recommended speed, the tire would be out of balance, and if you constantly exceed the speed level, the tire would wear faster.

On the other hand, tire load index refers to the maximum load the tire can carry when properly inflated. This implies that if you overload the tire, it’d wear faster or even blow while driving.

Both speed rating and tire load index should be considered when buying a new tire for your vehicle; a 97T tire is different from a 97W tire; they both have the same load index but different speed ratings.

When loaded evenly, a 97W tire can withstand higher speed levels than a 97T tire. So, what exactly does the 97W code mean?

See Also: Load Range SL Vs E

What Does 97W Mean On a Tire?

The “97” represents the “Tire Load Index,” while the “W” represents the speed rating. Tire load indexes are denoted using numbers (from “0” to “150”), while speed ratings are represented with letters (from letter “L” to “Z”).

Your 97W tire can carry a maximum of 1,609-pound weight and a maximum speed rating of 168 miles per hour. To avoid confusing you, hereunder are truncated charts of tire load index and speed rating.

Tire Load Chart

Load IndexMaximum load (lbs)

Tire Speed Rating Chart

Speed RatingsMaximum Speed at MPH
L75 mph
M81 mph
N87 mph
P93 mph
Q99 mph
R106 mph
S112 mph
T118 mph
U124 mph
H130 mph
V149 mph
W168 mph
Y186 mph
Z149+ mph

With these charts, you can clearly see what the 97W code on your tire means. However, when it comes to tire load index, the tire’s load capacity is multiplied by the total number of tires installed in the vehicle.

For example, if your car drives with four tires, the load index would be multiplied by four (4). In this case, it will be 1,609 x 4, which equals 6,436 lbs.

So, if you’re driving with 97W tires, it’s expected that the maximum load you should carry falls below 6,436 lbs, and of course, you shouldn’t exceed 168mph to not lose control over the car.

There are many other codes printed on car tires you may love to know, and hereunder are some of them.

R15 (or any other number) = Rim Diameter

P = Means the tire is for “Passenger Cars.”

215/65 (or any other numbers) = Represent the “Width” and “Height” of the tire in millimeters.

What More?

What does 97W mean on a tire? It’s simply the load index and speed rating code. The number represents the load index, and the letter represents the speed rating. It is important to stick with tires of the same specifications and coding as the stock OEM tires on your car when you bought it.

Using the wrong tire can cause your car to lose balance at top speeds, and also, the tire threads would wear easily. If you change your tires to a bigger one, you’d also need to work on the drivetrain and suspension system of the car so it’d still drive smoothly at any speed.

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