How to Convert Bias Ply Tire Sizes to Metric

Written by john walker
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How to Convert Bias Ply Tire Sizes to Metric
Cross-ply tires tend to be rounder than radial tires. (tire image by sasha from

Cross-ply tires date back to 1898. With the development of vulcanised rubber, Goodyear began creating cross-ply tires with cords of fabric built into the rubber for stability. The sizing on cross-ply tires may seem a bit odd, as it is largely based upon wheel-diameter. Most newer passenger vehicles use a P-metric system (such as P235/75R15) which is based on aspect ratios, sidewall heights, and rim diameters. Converting cross-ply to P-metric tire sizing is not difficult.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Identify the cross-ply tyre's diameter. The cross-ply measurement is printed on the original tire or in the original specifications for the vehicle. Locate this measurement on the tire size chart included in the Resources section, and the diameter that is displayed next to the measurement size. For example, the A78-14 tire has a 24.2-inch diameter. If you are unable to locate the written measurement of your cross-ply tire, measure the tire from top to bottom to get the diameter.

  2. 2

    Cross-reference the tyre's diameter with the conversion chart included in the Resources section. Locate the tyre's diameter and to the right of that measurement will be a P-metric size close in dimensions to the cross-ply. There will be very few exact matches, as the construction of the two types of tires results in variations on height and width.

  3. 3

    Locate P-metric sizes that are close to the diameter of the cross-ply tire if no exact matches are listed. You may have to choose one that is right above or right below the diameter. For example, a 25.8-inch tire does not have an exact match, but the P215/70R14, P185/75R15, and P195/70R15 are the closest matches. Multiple measurements as possible matches means you will compare multiple sizes of tires.

  4. 4

    Input the P-Metric size or sizes into the tire size calculator included in the Resources section. The calculator will provide the dimensions of the P-metric tire, while the tire size chart will provide you the dimensions of the cross-ply. The calculator compares two P-metric sizes so you can input two at once.

  5. 5

    Compare the revolutions-per-mile of the P-metric tires to the listed revolutions-per-mile printed on the tire chart showing the cross-ply measurements. On both the chart and the calculator, revolutions-per-mile is indicated by "Rev / mile." Keep the revolutions-per-mile of the P-metric tire as close as possible to the cross-ply measurement. For example, 889 revolutions-per-mile is relatively close to 897 revolutions-per-mile.

Tips and warnings

  • In P-metric measurements, the three-digit number following the P is the tyre's tread width. The larger the number means the wider the tire. If you are replacing a thin tire (many cross-ply tires were narrow), choose a lower P- size.
  • If the revolutions-per-mile of your new and old tire are too far off, you can negatively impact the performance of the vehicle, including the potential for brake failure or a possibility of a speeding ticket as your speed listed on the speedometer will be inaccurate.

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