Car enthusiasts always talk about performance numbers when they compare two or more cars. Peak power and torque are the two figures that are most often put on the table – and that’s fine, of course. But all these numbers don’t matter if you don’t take one very important factor into account – tyres.

For starters, Wikipedia provides a pretty good definition of what a tyre is – “a ring-shaped component that surrounds a wheel's rim to transfer a vehicle's load from the axle through the wheel to the ground and to provide traction on the surface travelled over.” But there are tens (if not hundreds) of differences between the different tyres and a new video from YouTube’s Engineering Explained channel is here to shine more light on that topic.

In a typical scientific fashion, Jason Fenske, the guy who runs the Engineering Explained channel, explains what all of the most common markings you'll find on tyre sidewalls mean. Simply put, he teaches us how to “read” tyres in order to “make cars and coffee interesting again.”

For the purposes of this video, Fenske uses a Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyre in a 235/35 R20 size, the factory rubber of his Tesla Model 3 Performance. It features nearly all the letters and numbers you’ll usually see on the sidewall of a modern tyre, which give us a lot of information about the tyre type, date of production, origin, and many other details.

One of the most interesting things you’ll learn from the video at the top of this page is the fact that some tyres have an index that shows if the tyre is designed and built specifically for the needs of a certain vehicle. In this case, the TO designation means the tyre is specific to the Model 3 Performance.