Tire Speed Ratings: What are They and Why They Matter for You?

Whenever you go to purchase a new tire, you’ll see different kinds of ratings that tell you about the size, tread, speed, and other parameters.

Tires are the most important component of any vehicle. For the best results, you’ll have to consider their rating before deciding on the type.

The following text will discuss the speed rating of your tire. What does it mean and why is it so important for your car’s performance?

What is Tire Speed Rating

Before moving further, let’s take a look at what car rating actually is. 

In the simplest terms, the speed rating of your car tells you how fast you can travel in your car over a long distance without compromising on safety.

Generally, tires strive to create a perfect balance between speed, control, and durability. 

Unfortunately, there is no combination that allows you to enjoy all three features. 

The tire rating tells you the maximum speed where the tire can safely sustain the thermal and contact forces generated during driving.

As a driver, there is no right tire rating for you. 

It all depends on your preference and application. All ratings start from the letters A to Z where Z has the fastest speed rating. 

However, A speed ratings are extremely slow and are not suitable for vehicles.

Generally, vehicle speed ratings start from the letter M and move onwards. 

However, the following speed ratings are the most common performance variants throughout the automobile industry.

  • T Speed Rating: Max speed limit of 90 mph
  • H Speed Rating: Max speed limit of 210 mph
  • V Speed Rating: Max speed limit of 240 mph
  • W Speed Rating: Max speed limit of 270 mph
  • Z Speed Rating: Max speed limit beyond 240 mph

Another thing you must always remember is the fact that it’s never safe to exceed the limit identified by the speed rating of your time. 

Naturally, a lot of users assume that the limit comes with a specific tolerance or allows you to misuse the tire for a while. 

It’s quite accurate in reality and ignoring the safety recommendations might have some serious consequences down the line.

How to Find the Speed Rating of My Tires?

Like every other essential information regarding your tires, the speed ratings are available at the sidewall. 

You’ll probably find it embossed on the side along with other information related to the size and the manufacturing date.

Generally, the speed ratings are denoted by an alphabet from A to Z with A being the slowest. 

However, the initial speed ratings are so slow that they are not at all suitable for vehicles. You’ll usually find car tires to be around the rating of M or above. 

However, the actual rating depends on the capability of your car and your driving preference.

What are the Factors that Determine the Speed Ratings of a Car?

The speed rating of any tire depends first and foremost on the overall ability of the tire to withstand the thermal and contact forces that increase with speed. 

Apart from that, the overall capability of the tire to offer control through its cornering resistance, the material’s road grip, and the internal structure of the tire.

Additionally, the overall durability of the tire is another important factor that helps you determine the maximum speed a tire can sustain without any permanent damage.

Fortunately, the decision to allow which type of speed rating a tire should have is not up to the manufacturers. 

There is an international standard for that. 

All tire testing must pass the overall ECE (Economic Commission of Europe) or the more stringent SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards.

How Does the Tire Speed Rating Matter?

Naturally, the speed rating matters because it allows you to determine the kind of tire you should choose for your vehicle. 

All tire materials come with a specific capability to handle the frictional, thermal, and contact stresses that generate when you speed up. 

The tire rating tells you that the material used in this specific tire is suited for a particular speed.

Moreover, the rating also means that the tire comes with other additional features to ensure that you can handle the specified excessive speeds. 

For instance, tires with a V or W rating would come with additional features to maintain stability and better cornering performance at higher speeds.

Overall, the tire speed rating is an important parameter that gives you the confidence that the tire you are purchasing is suitable for the speeds you want to reach with your car.

Naturally, you won’t always be driving on such roads because the actual speed depends on other factors like the road condition, traffic, and regulations. 

However, knowing the max limit can undoubtedly help.

Does Speed Rating Affect the Ride Quality?

The short answer is yes, the speed rating of your tire has a definite impact on the overall ride quality.

First of all, the main difference your speed rating has on the ride quality is related to the control.

Higher speed rating tires make it easier for you to control the car because of additional grip and cornering resistance. 

However, that comes at a cost.

Higher rating cars have softer rubber compounds that don’t perform well on bumpy roads or in cold weather.

The Ideal Speed Rating for My Car

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as an ideal speed rating of a car. 

Cars generally have a specific speed rating tire attached in stock but you are absolutely free to change that.

However, you’ll have to be careful.

Just make sure that the speed rating you select is according to your driving requirements and the speed limit of your car. 

There is no point in having a W-rated tire for a car that can’t even reach that speed or if you don’t drive like that.

Using Different Speed Rating Tires Together

Another common question people ask about tires and speed ratings is regarding the use of different speed ratings together. 

The short answer to that question is yes. However, you have to be very careful.

First of all, it’s important to understand that all 4 tires need to be the same for the best performance of your car. 

Even if you do so, you must make sure that you treat all tires as if their speed rating is the same as the one with the lowest one.

The reason behind that is simple. 

The tire with the lower speed rating will be the first to fail when you exceed that. 

Through this, the speed rating of other tires will not matter as you obviously can’t drive your car with 3 tires only.  

Can I use V-rated Tires Instead of H-rated?


You can use any speed rating tire you want as long as you are driving according to the restrictions of that rating. 

In the case of V and H-rated tires, you can use them interchangeably. 

However, you’ll have to make sure that the maximum speed doesn’t exceed 210 mph in H-rated tires or 240 mph in their V-rated counterparts.

TL; DR: Here are Some Essential Tips to Get You Up to Speed

  • The higher the alphabet is, the higher the speed rating of your car will be.
  • The actual sustainable speed can be a little slower than the posted limit. This is because the posted speed doesn’t factor in the open road conditions.
  • With different speed-rated tires, the fastest you’ll be able to go is the speed limit of the lowest-rated tire.
  • For Sedan passenger cars, the most common speed ratings are S and T. For other types, H, N, P, Q, and speed ratings are the most common.

Final Thoughts

The speed rating of your tire determines the driving conditions you want. 

This allows you to ensure that the tire you are using is suitable for your driving preferences. 

With this rating, it will become easier for you to select the tire that works best for your car.


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

Thanks for reading our article! We've written this article with a lot of thought and care. If you're interested in seeing more of our content, please check out our Tires section and find an answer to your questions!

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