When it comes to buying new tires for your vehicle, there are many factors to consider. One important factor that is often overlooked is the tire speed rating.
The speed rating on tires is a code assigned by the manufacturer that specifies the fastest speed that a tire safely spins at. Understanding the tire speed rating system can help you choose the right tires for your vehicle and ensure a secure and enjoyable driving experience.
In this article:
What Is Speed Rating On Tires?
The recommended max speed that a tire can sustain over time is indicated by its speed rating. In other words, it’s the top speed at which a tire may operate before losing its intended performance. If the speed rating is higher, you’ll have greater control and handling at faster speeds.
The purpose of this speed rating system is to help regulate the safe operation of tires at predetermined speeds. A to Z, starting at 5 km/h (3 miles per hour) and going up to 300 km/h (186 mph), are the alphabetical letters assigned to the certified speed ratings of tires.
Keep in mind that this rating does not represent a tire’s full performance potential. And if you intend to break its limit, think twice!
I usually strived to rev up to 140 mph on my 205/65R15 94H (which only allows for 130 mph) when commuting on the highway early in the morning since there was not much traffic. Nothing bad happened at first. But just after a few months doing so, I found my tire tread worn out excessively, and I could even spot some cracks on the sidewall. What a disaster!
Where To Find This Rating
The tire speed rating is usually indicated on the tire sidewall, immediately following the tire size information. It is represented by a letter code, which shows the maximum speed capacity of the tire under specific load and inflation conditions.
Tire Speed Rating V Vs W
Two common tire speed ratings are V and W.
V-rated tires have a maximum speed rating of 149 mph (240 km/h), while W-rated tires have an optimal speed rating of 168 mph (270 km/h). Therefore, W-rated tires have a higher top speed rating than V-rated tires.
Tire Speed Rating H Vs T
Besides, you can also encounter H and T tires on the market.
As you can guess, H-rated tires are superior to its T counterparts. H and T tires have a max speed rating of 130 mph (210 km/h) and 118 mph (190 km/h), respectively.
Who Determines Tire Speed Ratings?
Tire speed ratings are determined by the tire manufacturers themselves, based on industry standards set by various organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO).
These organizations provide guidelines and extensive testing procedures for tire manufacturers to determine the maximum safe speed capability of their tires.
To determine a tire’s speed rating, tire manufacturers conduct a series of tests that measure the tire’s performance at different speeds and under several road conditions.
These tests take into account factors such as load capacity, tread wear, and temperature resistance. The results of these tests are then used to assign a speed rating to the tire based on its maximum safe speed capability.
Tire Speed Rating Chart
Here is a chart that shows the common tire speed ratings and their maximum highway speed limits.
|Speed rating||Speed limit (mph)|
What Is A Good Tire Speed Rating?
The ideal tire speed rating for a vehicle depends on several factors, including the vehicle’s make and model, intended use, and daily driving conditions. In general, a good tire speed rating is one that matches or exceeds the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended speed rating, which is typically based on the vehicle’s max speed capabilities.
For most everyday passenger cars, a speed rating of S (up to 180 km/h) or T (up to 190 km/h) is sufficient. However, vehicles with higher horsepower and sportier handling may require tires with higher speed ratings, such as H (up to 210 km/h) or V (up to 240 km/h).
Relation About Tire Speed Rating And Tire Performance
The tire speed rating code is not necessarily a direct indicator of tire performance, but it can have an indirect impact on performance in certain circumstances. It is important to choose tires with a speed rating that matches the capabilities of your vehicle and the everyday driving factors you will encounter.
For example, I frequently drive on highways with a speed limitation above the tire’s maximum speed rating (as mentioned). Then, I soon experienced reduced handling and stability, apart from the premature wear and tear of the tread. In addition, driving at high speeds for extended periods of time can cause tires to generate excessive heat, leading to tire failure or reduced tire life.
On the other hand, choosing tires with a greater speed rating than what is necessary for your vehicle and driving conditions may not necessarily provide any performance benefits. In fact, higher speed-rated tires may have a harder rubber compound that may reduce grip and traction in certain weather conditions, such as rain or snow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Smaller Tires Better For Speed?
No. Smaller tires are not better for speed as they have a smaller contact patch with the road, which can lead to less grip and handling capabilities. Larger tires, on the other hand, typically provide more stability and improved handling at higher speeds.
Why Do Tires Have Speed Ratings?
Tires have speed ratings to define the maximum speed at which the tire can comfortably run without experiencing failure or damage. This is important for ensuring optimal performance and safety on the road. Each speed rating corresponds to a specific speed range.
Can I Mix Different Speed Rating Tyres On A Car?
No. It’s generally not recommended to mix different speed rating tire codes on a car as it can take a toll on the vehicle’s handling and performance, potentially leading to safety issues.
Each tire’s speed rating is geared towards specific performance characteristics, and using tires with different ratings can cause instability, especially during high-speed driving.
The Bottom Line
What is tire speed rating? This specification is not to miss when purchasing new tires for your vehicle. Selecting tires with a speed rating that matches your driving needs and the capabilities of your car can help ensure your safety on the road.
By understanding the tire speed rating system, you can make informed decisions about the tires you choose and enjoy a smooth and worry-free driving experience.