P-Metric & Euro-Metric Tire Sizing(Lea en español)
What's the difference between the tire sizes of P225/60R16 and 225/60R16? The obvious answer is the "P" in front of the first size, but just what does the "P" stand for and what does it tell us about the tires?
P-metric sized tires are the ones with the "P" at the beginning of the tire size, (such as P225/60R16 listed above). They were introduced in the United States in the late 70s and are installed on vehicles primarily used to carry passengers including cars, station wagons, sport utility vehicles and even light duty pickup trucks. Their load capacity is based on an engineering formula which takes into account their physical size (the volume of space for air inside the tire) and the amount of air pressure (how tightly the air molecules are compressed). Since all P-metric sizes are all based on the formula for load, vehicle manufacturers can design their new vehicles (weights and wheelwell dimensions) around either existing or new tire sizes.
Metric or Euro-metric sized tires are the ones without the "P" at the beginning, (such as 185R14 or the 225/60R16 listed above). Using metric dimensions to reflect a tire's width actually began in Europe in the late 60s. However, since Euro-metric sizes have been added over time based on the load and dimensional requirements of new vehicles, the tire manufacturers designed many new tire sizes and load capacities around the needs of new vehicles. Not quite as uniform as creating sizes using a formula, but they got the job done.
Euro-metric and P-metric tires in the same size (i.e. P225/60R16 & 225/60R16) are equivalent in their dimensions with just slight differences in their load capacity calculations and inflation pressure tables. So if Euro-metric and P-metric tires have the same numeric size, the same tire performance category and the same speed rating, the two are considered equivalent and interchangeable if used in axle pairs or sets of four. Simply continue to follow your vehicle manufacturer's recommended inflation pressures provided in the vehicle's owner's manual or on the vehicle tire placard (usually found on the door jamb or on the glovebox or console door) for either size tire.