What Are the Speed Ratings for Tires?

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You’ve got a lot on your mind, and probably the last thing you typically think about is your tire speed rating. But if you’re in the market for tire services, that’s not a bad thing to know. Even if you’re not looking for new tires any time soon, it’s a good thing to understand what a tire speed rating is.

What Is a Tire Speed Rating And Why Should You Care?

In a nutshell, it’s a rating that indicates the maximum speed that tires can safely maintain over time.

While speed limits can vary across the country (and around the world), the speed rating on a tire has a lot more to do with matching the speed capability of the tire to the top speed capability of the car to which they’re applied. The higher the speed rating, the better control and handling you can expect at higher speeds – basically it’s that the tires can take the heat.

How to Determine What Tire Speed Rating is Right for Your Car

You can find your tire speed rating in your car. Generally, you’ll find it on the driver’s side door jamb or sometimes in the glove box door or on the gas tank hatch, and if you don’t see it there, it’ll definitely be in your vehicle’s owner manual.

Now, you may see the tire speed rating on, say, the driver’s side door jamb and not even realize you’re looking at it. You may see a lot of numbers and letters, like P205/60R15 82S. Don’t worry about all of them. The main thing you’ll want to know is that the “S” signifies the tire speed rating, and the 82 is your load index, which corresponds with how much weight the car can carry.

If it sounds confusing, it is. After all, an “S” isn’t a speed, and 82 pounds sounds like not much weight at all. But if you’re thinking you can only go S miles per hour and carry 82 pounds, as you’ve likely surmised, you’re reading it wrong.

Deciphering the Tire Speed Rating and Load Index

First of all, if you don’t want to decipher the tire speed rating or load index, you don’t have to. If you see that you have an 82S at the end of those numbers and letters, or perhaps a 91V or a 99Y and so on, and you don’t want to bother with thinking too hard about all of this, just make sure that the tires you get are the same as what you’re seeing on the driver’s side door jamb, glove box door, gas tank hatch or vehicle’s owner manual (wherever you found it).

You can call your local Tread Connection franchise, and they’ll be able to help you.

But if you do want to go into the weeds, as you look at 82S or 91V or whatever those last two numbers and letter is, you’ll want to flip through your vehicle owner’s manual and look for two charts.

The S, V, Y, or other letters that you’ll see is your speed rating, and it will correspond with a speed.

What Are the Speed Ratings for Tires?

We’ll give them all to you here, so you don’t have to look it up.

  • L is 75 miles per hour
  • M is 81 miles per hour
  • N is 87 miles per hour
  • P is 93 miles per hour
  • Q is 99 miles per hour
  • R is 106 miles per hour
  • S is 112 miles per hour
  • T is 118 miles per hour
  • U is 124 miles per hour
  • H is 140 miles per hour
  • V is 149 miles per hour
  • Z is over 149 miles per hour
  • W is 168 miles per hour
  • Y is 186 miles per hour

The load index also corresponds with a chart, which you’ll find in your book. These charts are insanely long and heavy on numbers, and so we’ll spare you from wading through it all, but basically if your load index is, say, 96, you’d be able to look for the pounds the car can carry, and in this case, 96 corresponds with 1,565 pounds per tire. Multiply four times 1,565, and you’d find that the maximum weight of your car is 6,260 pounds.

Buying a Tire With the Right Speed Rating and Load Index

So as noted, the main thing is that you buy a tire with the same speed rating as what’s in your owner’s manual – or a tire that’s even better. So if your speed rating letter is “S,” but you’d like to buy a “T,” go ahead. But if you want to buy an “R,” it’s better to not.

That can sound a little strange. After all, R is 106mph, and you probably never go anywhere near that speed. Why not buy an R?

Because your car manufacturer spent a lot of time and money testing your cars on S tires. That’s what it determined you need. Putting a better tire on your car is perfectly fine but putting a lesser tire than what your car manufacturer recommends — even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, we can’t in good conscience suggest that.

And when you buy tires, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t ever buy tires with a lower load-carrying capacity than the tires originally installed by your car manufacturer.

You Don’t Have to Think About Any of This — Let the Experts at Tread Connection Think About Tire Speed Ratings and Load Index for You

Now that you know more about tire speed ratings and load indexes, you should be able to make a more informed decision on your next set of tires. But if you’re thinking, “This is clear as mud,” or, “I understand tire speed ratings and load indexes now, but I still don’t want to deal with this,” then no worries.

The TIA-certified tire experts at Tread Connection will quickly determine all of that information once they show up at your home and office — and then can quickly mount and install your tires and then will be on their way.

And you can forget all about tire speed ratings and the load index for a long, long time.

Contact a Tread Connection van in your area to get the perfect set of tires for your vehicle today!