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A tire's section width (also called "cross section width") is the measurement of the tire's width from its inner sidewall to its outer sidewall (excluding any protective ribs, decorations or raised letters) at the widest point. This measurement is made without any load placed upon the tire and after the tire has been properly mounted on its industry assigned measuring rim and has been inflated and reset to its test pressure after 24 hours.
Because a tire's section width is influenced by the width of the rim upon which the tire is mounted, the correct industry assigned measuring rim width for the tire size being measured must be used.
The width of a tire mounted on a narrow rim would be "narrower" than if the same tire was mounted on a wide rim. NOTE: because the overall diameter of a steel belted radial is determined by the steel belts, there is little, if any, change to the overall diameter of the tire due to differences in rim width.
The industry rule of thumb is that for every 1/2" change in rim width, the tire's section width will correspondingly change by approximately 2/10".
For example: a tire in the P205/60R15 size is measured on a 6.0" wide wheel and this size tire has an approved rim width range from 5.5" to 7.5" wide. The tire has a section width of 8.23" (209mm) when mounted on a 6.0" wide wheel. If that tire were mounted on all of the rims within its approved range, the tire's approximate section width would change as follows:
Because of the different wheel widths used in the above example, there is a 9/10" projected difference in tire section width when comparing a tire mounted on the narrowest rim to the widest rim within its range. This may affect fenderwell and frame clearances when selecting optional aftermarket wheel and tire packages.
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