What Are Tire Speed Ratings?

July 17, 2020

If you’ve ever had to replace your tires, you’ve faced a confusing group of numbers and letters on your tire’s sidewall. These symbols indicate the type of tire you have. While they may seem meaningless, they tell you a great deal of valuable information. 

One significant letter in the sequence is the last one, which indicates the tire speed rating. You may not think it is important, but it is critical to your vehicle’s safety and handling. You are probably wondering what are tire speed ratings, and why do they matter? Read on to learn more. 

Tire Speed Rating Explained 

A tire speed rating indicates how much speed your tires can handle over time. According to BF Goodrich Tires, tire speed symbols extend from A to Z, and the maximum speeds on the tires range from 75 miles per hour to 186. It’s important to note that these ratings don’t indicate how fast you should be driving. Instead, they determine the maximum speed capability when inflated and how well the tire will handle turns and corners at that speed. Make sure to follow the speed limits in your area.

What is the Best Tire Speed Rating?

One size does not fit all when it comes to tire speed rating. Higher ratings are designed for high-performance vehicles, like sports cars. Wheels with low-speed ratings are for sedans, minivans, and family vehicles. Tires with even lower speed ratings are well-suited for off-road and light trucks. The symbols S and T are most commonly used for sedans, minivans, and light trucks, while H tires are typically used for passenger or some sports cars. V tires are for high-performance vehicles.

close up of a  tire on a red car

The best way to determine the tire speed rating that you need is to consult the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. The exact rating can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, on the driver’s side door jam, in the glove box door, or the gas tank hatch.  

A tire with a higher speed rating will have better stopping power and grip, but it also means it will wear quicker. 

Tire Speed Rating S vs. T

Minivan or standard sedan drivers are likely to find S or T ratings on their vehicles. S rated tires can maintain speeds of up to 112 miles per hour while T rated tires can get as high as 118 miles per hour. 

What is H or V Rating on Tires?

According to Consumer Reports, higher speed tires are being used more frequently in passenger vehicles. For example, a sedan that used to be equipped with S or T rated tires may now come standard with H tires. An H tire indicates a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour. The reason for this upgrade is higher-speed rated tires are better equipped to meet vehicle safety standards. Additionally, as standard vehicle capabilities improve, higher speed tires are designed to meet their accelerating, braking, and handling power. 

If vehicle owners want to increase their tire speed rating even further, they may opt for a tire with a V rating, which performs at a maximum speed of 149 miles per hour.   

Is the Speed Rating of a Tire Important?

You must select the appropriate tire speed rating to ensure the safety and handling of your vehicle. You can upgrade to a tire with a higher speed rating to improve performance. But it’s never advisable to downgrade to a lower one as it can comprise your safety. Once you know your tires’ maximum speed capability, you should be sure to never drive beyond that speed.   

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