What is a tyre speed rating and what does it mean?

If your tyres are always kept in good condition, your vehicle will run smoothly, which is why understanding how to maintain your tyres will help you to be safer on the road. 

What is a tyre speed rating?

The speed rating is the maximum speed that a tyre can safely travel at. 

To ensure a vehicle has the correct tyres fitted, engineers must carry out a series of practical tests. 

When new tyres are designed, they are tested so that they can safely reach high speeds.

Having the correct rating of tyre speed means your vehicle is legally fit to be on the road and it is safer for you as the driver. 

Where can you find the speed rating?

The rating of speed is displayed on the side wall of your tyre. Here you will also find more information about your tyre, like the size and load index. The rating is consequently based on the load index, which is the maximum amount the tyre can carry. 

What does the rating mean? 

The tyre speed rating in relation to the load index means the maximum speed the tyre can travel based upon how much weight it can hold. 

There’s a lot of information displayed on the side of your tyre which tells you how they function, so it can be confusing figuring out what it all means.

The speed rating is the last letter out of the digits on your tyre. 
Let’s say your tyre shows: 195 / 55 / R / 16 87V 
The speed rating would be “V.”

The last two digits before the letter is the load index, so it would be “87.” A tyre with a load index of this amount can carry 545kg. 

How to read the tyre speed rating

It is recorded alphabetically, where each letter represents a maximum speed the tyre can go.
For example, a tyre with a speed rating of “V” can travel up to 148 mph. 

To make it clearer, here is a list:
L = 75mph 
M = 81mph
N = 87mph
P = 93mph
Q = 99mph
R = 106mph
S = 122mph
T = 118mph
U = 124mph
H = 130mph
V = 149mph
Z = 149mph
Y= 186mph 

Generally, the higher the letter is, the faster the vehicle can go and the more weight it can carry. This also means that the tyre is better suited for higher acceleration and braking.  

How does the tyre speed rating affect my vehicle?

It is worth investing in a good set of tyres that are right for your vehicle, as it will give the vehicle better grip on the road and you’ll have more control over steering.

Using tyres with the wrong rating is dangerous, as the steering action of the vehicle won’t be in sync with the driver. All four tyres must have the same values – if you have different ones, the steering can pull more to the right or left. Remember not to drive faster than your lowest rated tyres.  

Having the correct rating for your tyre is important for the way your vehicle functions and it means you will be more in control of your vehicle.