Guide to Tire Speed Ratings

Tires

Knowing your tire’s speed rating is important for a number of reasons. It helps prevent tire-related accidents and also aids in replacing your tires when the time comes. In this guide, we at Fred Beans will give you a detailed run-down on what tire speed ratings are and how you can determine what speed rating your tires have.

Drivers in Philadelphia, Doylestown, Mechanicsburg, and Flemington should read ahead to get started!

The History of Tire Speed Ratings

Guide to Tire Speed RatingsSpeed ratings for tires were first used in Germany where many roads do not have speed limits. In order to prevent high-speed accidents resulting from overworked tires, the German government implemented speed ratings for tires. This is also why speed ratings were originally made in terms of kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour as Germany runs on the metric system.

These speed ratings were established by running many tests including a simulated speed test that pushed each type of tire to its limits. Once scientists believed each tire had met its maximum safe speed, it was noted and made official as its speed rating.

Speed ratings vary for a variety of reasons, including tread depth and all-weather-readiness, and are to be used on specific types of vehicles. In the chart in the next section, you’ll find detailed information about what each tire ratings means and what kind of vehicles they’re used on.

Ratings, Speeds & Vehicles

Rating

Top Speed (mph)

Top Speed (km/h)

When They’re Used

L

75

120

On off-road & light truck vehicles

M

81

130

Temporary spare tires

N

87

140

All-season tires

P

93

150

Light truck & SUVs

Q

99

160

Winter tires

R

106

170

H.D light trucks

S

112

180

Everyday driving in sedans & vans

T

118

190

Everyday driving in sedans & vans

U

124

200

Every driving in sedans, SUVs, & trucks

H

130

210

Coupes & sports sedans

V

149

240

Coupes, sports sedans, & some sports cars

W

168

270

High-performance sports cars

Y

186

300

High-performance sports cars

Where You can Find These Ratings

Now that you have a better idea of what each tire rating means, let’s talk about how you can figure out what your tires are rated. Locating the speed rating of your tire is easy as it is directly on the tire. However, depending on how old your tires are, the rating can found in three different places within the tire’s size number.

Say your tires have an “S” speed rating. If your tires were produced before 1991, your tire’s speed rating will be found within the tire size number like this: “225/50SR16.” If your tires were produced after 1991, your tire’s speed rating will be at the very end of the tire size number like this: “225/50R16 89S.” Sometimes, it’ll also appear in the middle in addition to on the end but there’s no real difference.

Still Have Tire-Related Questions?

Drivers in Philadelphia, Doylestown, Mechanicsburg, and Flemington who still have questions about tire speed ratings should contact us at Fred Beans today!

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