Modern tyres are for more than just a bit of rubber pressed into round forms. Those of us who drive 4x4s for a long time will recall the 70's and 80's when we had just a limited choice in off road tyres. Then the market broadened and advanced designs appeared. They not only were superior on the roads but also performed much better in harsh conditions. I recently had the opportunity to drive Firestone SATs, one of the best tyres at their time. Well, compared to Mud-Terrains they were lousy- no directional stability, bad in reverse and terrible on wet roads. Not that they are worse now. We have simply gotten used to the modern rubbers.
But I wanted to talk about identifying tyres. For this let's examine a wide-spread footwear for Discoveries, the Goodyear Wrangler in 205x16.
Let's start with the simplest:
205R16 is the size.
205 is the wide of the tire. R stands for Radial. 16 is the size of the wheel in inches. Reinforced means just that.
M+S stands for Mud and Snow
Also the indication Radial or Diagonal may be shown.
One of the most important indications might be the date of manufacturing. On all tyres sold in Europe and on many sold in the rest of the world you will find the DOT-mark followed by some letters and 3 numbers. The last number indicates the year, the first 2 indicate the week. In this case - 179 - it's the 17th week of either 1999 or 1989.
Another important indication is the maximum load the tire can carry and at which pressure. In this case 1720 lbs at 36 psi. Many laws prescribe a minimum load carrying capability equal or greater than the axle capacity. Although this is seldom checked it may be worth checking.