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Understanding Tyre Speed Ratings: A Comprehensive Overview

What’s a tyre speed rating?

The speed rating of a tyre is an indication of the maximum speed at which the tyre can safely be driven. The tyre needs to pass a stress test to confirm that the safety rating is appropriate. 

The limit of the highest speed is strict and is calculated by causing the tyre to deform and make noise while turning. The tyre speed rating is often quicker than the maximum speed that your car can achieve. This is done for safety, to make sure your tyres are always up to the task of speed racing or such.

 

tyre sidewall with tyre speed ratings, width, rim size etc

Does the tyre speed rating matter?

All of your safety and the safety of others on the road mainly depend on the correct tyre speed rating you choose for your car. If your wheels are not rated for the speeds you travel, the heat generated at high speeds might be too much for them to handle. 

The traction difference could lead to slick tyres and cause the car to be unstable on the road. In the very worst of cases, a blowout might occur. It's not only about how fast the tyre can go. It also contains very useful information about the safety of the car.

  • Ride comfort

  • Tread wear

  • Traction

  • Cornering ability

Choosing the correct tyre speed rating for your car and driving situation is vital. Tyres with higher speed ratings have more road-holding capacity and can also cut short the braking distance.

Nonetheless, the tyres might not perform well in the cold, and their tread might get flattened quickly. If you want an expert opinion to help you choose the correct tyre speed rating for your car, visit the Tyre Savings Centre.

How to read the tyre speed index

The tyre speed rating is the system that shows you the highest safe speed a set of tyres can have. This is represented by a letter code, and each letter corresponds to a specific speed.

Each tyre's speed rating is displayed on the tyre's sidewall, and it contains the maximum speed that you should not surpass when you are using the tyres on your car.

To illustrate, a tyre with these specifications 255/40 R20 101V is labelled with a speed rating of V. The following chart indicates that V shows the tyre can be ridden at speeds up to 149 mph. So, if you are on these tyres, do not go faster than 149 mph.

Tyre speed rating chart

This is the highest speed that tyres of any rating letter can reach. The speeds are stated in kilometres per hour (km/h) which is why the speeds in miles per hour (mph) are somewhat different looking.

  • N - 87 mph

  • P - 93 mph

  • Q - 99 mph

  • R - 106 mph

  • S - 112 mph

  • T - 118 mph

  • U - 124 mph

  • H - 130 mph

  • V - 149 mph

  • Z - 150+ mph

  • W - 168 mph

  • Y - 186 mph

Frequently Ask Questions

Can I fit tyres with a speed rating higher than I need?

Yes, you are free to get tyre speed ratings that are higher than what is given for your car if they are still suitable and safe for it. It is neither illegal nor an infraction of any law

Can I fit tyres with a speed rating lower than I need?

No, you are supposed to follow the car speed recommendation while buying the respective tyres. Slower speed-rated tyres can cause steering and control issues, the most severe of which can end in a tyre burst. 

Even if the practice of using tyres with a lower speed rating is not illegal, it is quite risky driving, and in case something happens, your car insurance may not cover you.

Can I mix tyres with different speed ratings?

Having tyres of various speed ratings on your car is not very smart. It is best to use the same size and kind of tyre with the same speed rating on all four wheels.