Difference Between BSW vs OWL tires: Which One Will Be Good?

Our autos’ tires are essential parts. They are the only components that come into contact with the ground.

Tires have a limited lifespan, just like every other component of your car. They require regular replacement. You will need to look for new tires to replace your current ones. However, this task can be challenging if you are unsure of what to look for. To make the job simple for you the next time you go tire shopping, this article will walk you through all you need to know about tires.

What is the Difference between BSW and OWL?

This is a frequently asked question, and the answer is very simple. If you come across tires labeled BSW, the tires have black sidewalls. On the other hand, if you come across a tire marked OWL, it means that the tire has outlined white letters.

In terms of performance, there is no difference. Both tires will perform the same way so long as all the other factors that determine a tire’s performance are similar.

BSW vs OWL Which One Should You Choose?

As stated above, the only difference between a BSW and OWL tire is in the appearance of their sidewalls. One will have black sidewalls, while the other will have a sidewall outlined with white letters.

The difference in the appearance of the sidewall is unlikely to affect the performance of the tires. So, choosing between BSW and OWL tires depends mainly on your taste and preference regarding the tires’ appearance.

How to Interpret Tire Markings

The tire’s sidewall contains all the information you require regarding a set of tires. But typically, there isn’t a table to explain what you’re seeing. A code identifies the various tire sizes and ratings.

The code follows a pattern: Tire width׀Aspect Ratio׀Tire Construction׀Wheel Diameter׀Load Index ׀Speed Rating

Here is how to analyze this example:

P 225/45 R 18 95 H.


In this case, the “P” stands for passenger. You’re more likely to come across Passenger (P), and Light Truck (LT) tires if you’re not driving a commercial vehicle.


This is the width of the tire in millimeters. It is possible to place tires on your car that are wider than the ones that came with it. However, that will alter how the vehicle handles and call for additional costly tweaks. For example, 25c and 28c have different width measurements. So, they act differently on on-road and off-road riding.


This represents the height-to-width ratio of the tire. In this illustration, the height represents 45% of the tire’s width.


R indicates that radial construction was used to build the tire. Rubber cords of these tires are radially arranged, 90 degrees away from the direction of motion. This is how almost all passenger car tires are constructed. Trailer tires occasionally have bias-ply tires (with the cords crossing over one another).


This is the measurement in inches of the diameter of the wheel that the tire is mounted to. For example, 235 and 265 tires have different wheel diameters. A 15-inch tire has 235/75R15 mounted on the tire whereas 265 has 265/70R16 mounted on the tire.


The tire load index, which engineers use to indicate the maximum weight the tire can support when completely inflated, is shown in this figure. The maximum weight that 95 load index tires can support is 1,521 pounds.


This letter denotes the tire’s speed rating or the top speed that the manufacturer deems safe. A tire with an H speed rating can go up to 130 mph.

What Other Codes Are You Like to Find on a Tire?

The following are other codes you are likely to find on a tire and what they represent:

ORWL: outlined raised white letters

LT: light truck application

WW: Whitewall

XL: Extra load capacity

XNW: Extra narrow white width

REIN: Reinforced

C, D, or E: indicates the load range for light truck application

What are the Different Terms You Will Encounter When Purchasing a Tire?

You are likely to encounter the following terms when purchasing tires:

Air Pressure

A measurement of the pressure exerted on your tires by the gas inflated in them.  The majority of tires are inflated with air. Nitrogen is sometimes used to inflate tires on luxury and high-performance vehicles since it escapes naturally through rubber pores more slowly than air. However, the performance of compressed air and nitrogen in tires is similar. A nitrogen-filled tire may be topped off as necessary with compressed air.

Load Index

Load index is a numeric code that indicates the weight a properly inflated tire can support. To securely purchase tires, casual drivers do not need to remember the load index scale.

 Manufacture Date Code

A date code identifying the year of manufacture is present on every tire produced after the year 2000. A tire’s production week is indicated by the first two digits of the code. The last two digits indicate the year.

Speed Rating

An alphanumeric code number indicates the top speed at which a tire can be driven safely. To properly buy tires, inexperienced drivers do not need to know the speed rating scale.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Modern vehicles feature sensors that monitor tire pressure and will turn on a light or symbol in the driver’s instrument panel to alert them when a tire is low.

Traction Rating

According to US Department of Transportation regulations, tires must bear a coded rating determined by a traction test on a wet surface. Tires are rated from AA (best) to C (worst) based on how well they maintain traction during a straight-line braking test.

Temperature Rating

The same standards require a code indicating the speed at which a tire can get too hot to operate correctly. All tires offered for sale in the United States can function correctly at a rate of at least 85 mph (a rating of C).

Treadwear Grade

According to DOT regulations, tires must display a code that compares the tread wear rate to that of a standard tire. A score of 100 indicates that the tire will likely outlast the tire used for the benchmark test. A tire should endure twice as long if it receives a grade of 200.

Tire makers have long argued that this test is not very helpful and that few people know its significance.

Tread Life Warranty

Many tires have a warranty that states they will last a specific amount of miles when used normally. These warranties can be helpful in providing you with a rough idea of how long a specific tire might last.

However, if your tires do fail before their warranty expires, it may be challenging to get a refund because it only covers a small portion of the cost of the tires.

Final Take

We hope this article helped guide you through everything you should know before purchasing a tire. When comparing the BSW vs OWL tires, the only difference between them is their sidewall appearance. You can go for the BSW if you like the sidewalls of your tires black or the OWL if you prefer sidewalls with outlined white letters.

Abdullah Anas

I am Abdullah Anas, a tire expert. I hate seeing people struggle to find the right tires for their cars. That is why he puts much effort into writing well-researched content about car tires. Today, it’s six years since he started the good work. I have received a lot of positive feedback from his readers and friends. Now my target is to let you understand every detail about all the tires available in the market

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