In this study, a detailed finite element model of a radial automobile tire is constructed for the prediction of cornering force characteristics during the design stage. The nonlinear stress-strain relationship of rubber as well as a linear elastic approximation, reinforcement, large displacements, and frictional ground contact are modeled. Validity of various simplifications is checked. The cornering force characteristics obtained by the finite element tire model are verified on the experimental setup constructed for this purpose. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.