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Tire speed ratings

By Bill Roebuck

The tire speed rating is typicall shown after the tire size on the sidewall (in this case 95H for an H-rated tire), but sometimes follows the aspect ratio number (eg. 65 ZR, where Z is the speed rating).Different tires have different speed ratings, so you'll want to make sure your tires will be safe at the speeds you generally drive. Speed ratings use a letter code to indicate the maximum speed that should be driven on that specific model of tire.

Here is what the tire speed letter codes designate:

M: 130 km/h
N: 140 km/h
P: 150 km/h
Q: 160 km/h
R: 170 km/h
S: 180 km/h
T: 190 km/h
U: 200 km/h
H: 210 km/h
V: 240 km/h
Z: in excess of 240 km/h
W: 270 km/h
Y: 300 km/h.

One of the most common tire speed ratings on today's vehicles is H.

Keep in mind that as the top speed increases, the longevity of the tire decreases, so you shouldn't get a higher-rated tire than your vehicle needs. Here's where you should check the kind of tires that came as original equipment on your vehicle. Another reason you should stay with what the vehicle manufacturer recommends is that different speed rated tires can change the overall handling characteristics of your vehicle.

Finally, the speed ratings of both the front and rear tires on any vehicle should be the same.

Posted Nov. 20, 2009. ©

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