What You Need To Know About Tire Speed Ratings

Ever wondered what the long alphanumeric coding on the tire of your vehicle actually means? No, it’s not just a random number that means nothing. If you have no clue what these numbers actually represent, no worries, you are not alone. Most of us have difficulty in understanding the number as these are not properly clarified by the vendors.

In short, these numbers provide the information of the tire width, aspect ratio, radial construction, Rim diameter, load index, and lastly, speed rating. A lot to learn in one day, huh? Well, today, we will be looking at the speed ratings on these tires. We will find out what a speed rating is and how to read it.

What Is Tire Speed Rating?

First thing’s first, tire speed rating refers to the optimal speed that the tire can maintain properly over time. It indicates the fastest speed the tire can handle up to the point that it performs no longer as it is designed for.

This number has significance. The higher the rating, the better pressure the tire can handle. That means, according to the rating, it can easily handle the speed without messing anything up. If you are driving the car at the top speed according to the speed rating, the tire will support you pretty conveniently.

It also means that you can control the tire at any speed level lower than the speed rating. The rating is generally done by one or two English alphabets, while each alphabet has significant meaning and representation.

How To Find Your Tire Speed Rating

The first place that you can find the tire speed rating of your vehicle is the owner’s manual. Every vehicle owner’s manual will have it loud and clear on it. However, for some reason, if you don’t have the manual with you, there’s another option.

You can find a sticker that is stuck against the side door jamb of the driver or the gas tank hatch. Another place to find the sticker is on the glove box door of the vehicle.

Now, this sticker has all the information about the tire speed rating. Follow the rating to match your vehicle type.

Another issue is checking the tire speed rating on the tire when you are going to purchase. You can check the sidewall of the tire where you can find all the information you need. It’s the last alphabetical figure of the serial embedded on the sidewall.

Tire Speed Rating System Quirks And Anomalies

The speed rating system that we see today uses the English Alphabet from A to Z. The letters are used to represent a specific speed. As the alphabets go up, the speed increases. For example, the M rating is well suited for a lower sustained speed compared to the O rating.

However, reading the rating system has its own challenges. To be specific, if you consider the European roots, it offers a slightly different mile per hour maximums. You can spot another quirk in the serial of the letter H. It is found between the letters U and V instead of coming after G. This is kind of weird.

More anomalies may be the following ones.

There’s no rating as I, O, and X. Similarly, you will find some speed charts that don’t have the letter P, as well. 

The tires that have the lowest ratings are generally rated as the letter A attached to a numeric figure. For example, A1, A2, A3, etc.

A number of tires do have the rating W and Y. Some makers even include Z, as well.

In the beginning, the letter V represented the highest speed rating. This was the time when the rating was first introduced. The letter corresponded to 149 mph speed or more. However, more makers came to play over the course of time and offered more speed options beyond 149 mph.So, V started to represent only 148 mph instead of more than 149. As for the speed beyond that, the letter W and Y were added to the list.

Some manufacturers include Z as the rating if the speed rating is beyond 186 mph.

Does Tire Speed Rating Matter?

Yes, the speed rating of a tire really matters. If you consider the rating, it indicates the highest level of speed your tire can endure. That means this is the highest your tire can easily handle without any issues. Usually, the higher the rating, the better the tire will handle the heat and pressure.

This also gives you an idea of how much load the tire can take. So, you can calculate your own limits before setting out for a ride.

Then again, the rating doesn’t always mean that this is the ceiling. The rating often gives you a hint of how fast the vehicle moves with the tires on. So, you can easily make sure that you don’t reach that speed quite often. This is how you can mitigate the chances of accidents and malfunctions of your vehicle.

Common Tire Speed Ratings

Here are some of the common tire speed ratings that you need to have a brief idea about.

Speed Rating

Speed Limit

Tire Type


118 mph

Family sedans & vans


148 mph

Sports sedans, coupes & sports cars


168 mph

Exotic Sports Car


149+ mph

High-performance vehicle tires


99 mph

Studles & studdable winter tires


106 mph

Heavy-duty light truck tires


112 mph

Family sedans & vans

Please note that just because you can see that the tire can go up to the limit set here doesn’t mean that you need to drive at that speed. Make sure you keep it lower than the limit for the best safety.

Final Words

So, that is all that you need to know about tire speed ratings. It is really crucial to know your vehicle tires’ speed ratings to ensure your own safety. It’s not really a difficult process to read and understand the ratings.

If you can try reading or revealing a few tires around or repeat the process every time you buy a tire, you will eventually get used to it.

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