If you are in the market for a new set of tires, then the one term you will probably hear a lot is speed rating. What does speed rating of a tire mean?
Well, in simple terms, the speed rating of a tire, which is denoted by an alphabet, specifies the top speed the tire can safely maintain or hit before it starts to break down or stops performing as intended.
However, it is important to note here that – speed rating tests are conducted in controlled environments, which is why they can maintain the desired top speeds.
In a real-life situation and on normal roads, where speeding and road rules come into play, in addition to factors such as bad roads or bad weather, maintaining speeds commensurate with the speed rating of the tire is nearly impossible.
Locating Your Tire Speed Rating
There are two places where you can find your tire speed rating – 1. You can look it up in your driver’s manual and 2. You can find it on the sidewall of your car tire.
If you look at your car tire, you will find a series of alphabetical and numerical characters. The code might read something like this – P215/65R15 89H. In this code, the letter “H” will specify the speed rating speed of your tire.
The speed rating is denoted by different letters where each letter stands for a specific speed.
T Speed Rating
If your car tires come with a T speed rating, it means the tires cleared speed tests touching up to 118 mph (190 km/h).
H Speed Rating
An H speed rating means the tires cleared speed testing for speeds up to 130 mph (210 km/h). Tires with an H speed rating are mostly used in sports or luxury coupes and sedans.
W Speed Rating
A W speed rating means the tires would have cleared speed testing for speeds touching up to 168 mph (270 km/h). These tires are all-season tires and they are high on performance and driving quality.
Q Speed Rating
Tires with a Q speed rating are designed for functionality with a lower speed testing of about 99 mph (160 km/h). Most winter tires fall under the Q speed rating.
V Speed Rating
A V speed rating means the tires have cleared speed testing for speeds touching 149 mph (240 km/h).
Y Speed Rating
Tires with a Y speed rating have been tested for speeds going beyond 186 mph (300 km/h).
Note – If the Y speed rating is displayed inside parentheses, it means both the tire size and speed have cleared testing going beyond a speed of 186 mph. If the Y speed rating is displayed without parentheses, then the tire has cleared speed testing for speeds touching 186 mph.
R Speed Rating
If your car tires display R speed rating, then the tires have cleared speed testing for speeds up to 106 mph (170 km/h). You might find that some winter tires come with R speed rating – certain heavy duty trucks also use R speed rating tires.
M & N Speed Rating
Tires with M speed rating have cleared testing for speeds touching 87 mph (140 km/h) while tires with N speed rating have cleared speed testing for speeds reaching 81 mph (130 km/h).
Tires with M & N speed rating are generally used as spare tires or they might be used on a temporary basis.
S Speed Rating
Tires that come with S speed rating can touch speeds up to 112 mph (180 km/h) and are ideally suited for passenger cars and certain all-terrain light trucks.
P speed rating
It is important to know that P speed rating is not common in the sense that even tires with a low speed clearance which are designed for functionality over speed come with a Q speed rating.
These tires would have cleared speed testing for speeds reaching 93 mph (150 km/h).
Z Speed Rating
Tires with Z speed rating are cleared for speeds of 149+ mph (240+ km/h) – but this is under controlled conditions. This rating specifies maximum tire performance which makes it an ideal match for sports cars, as well as performance coupes, sedans, and supercars.
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