The displacements and stresses in a steel belted radial tire in contact with a flat surface are analyzed by the use of the finite element method. The tire configuration is modeled by using flat triangular plate elements. The radial profile is divided into four zones and each zone is assumed to be piecewise homogeneous. The material properties for each zone are obtained directly from a separate experimental study. Such laminate property is included in the formulation of the stiffness matrix of the triangular plate element. An incremental stiffness matrix based on the quadratic terms in the strain‐displacement equations is also formulated for the element. The geometrically nonlinear behavior of the finite element model is predicted by a linear incremental procedure. The distributions of displacement, membrane stress, and bending stress throughout the tire are computed. The results for sidewall deflections resulting from inflation and the spring constant of the tire are compared with experimental measurements.