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Tire Service Blog

Tire Speed Ratings and why they matter.

The automotive industry has evolved quite a bit in the last twenty years. Today’s vehicles are lighter, faster and more technologically advanced than anything we have ever driven. When vehicles are designed, engineers must also determine what type of tire will be needed to match the performance level, heat, stresses and traction demands of the vehicle. This is why it is so important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire speed and performance.  Speed ratings are determined by speed and load testing in a laboratory. The speed rating represents the speed that a tire can safely maintain over time. Although the vehicle may not ever be driven as fast as the tire can handle, it still must be able to handle the speeds that the vehicle is capable of reaching.  Higher speed rated tires usually deliver better heat dissipation, handling and control at higher speeds and generally slower speeds as well.  Although the U.S. Department of Transportation has established the ratings scale as shown below, tire manufacturers test and assign their own speed ratings to their tires and this rating is listed on the sidewall of every tire.  It is also good to remember that tires are tested in laboratories and they are not tested for every situation and condition. Always exercise good judgment and due regard when driving. Another important fact to remember is that a tire rated for up to 112 mph, such as an S rated tire, is capable of reaching speeds higher than 112 mph but it is not safe for any length of time.  


  • M — Up to 81 mph
  • N — Up to 87 mph
  • P — Up to 93 mph
  • Q — Up to 99 mph
  • R — Up to 106 mph
  • S — Up to 112 mph
  • T — Up to 118 mph
  • H — Up to 130 mph
  • V — Up to 149 mph
  • W — Up to 168 mph
  • Y — Up to 186 mph
  • Z — Z rating may appear in the size designation on tires rated above 149 mph


When replacing tires on a vehicle, always choose tires that at least match the vehicle manufacturers recommended speed rating. It is ok to go to a higher speed rated tire but it is NEVER ok to go to a lower speed rating. Going with a lower than recommended speed rated tire is unsafe and may affect the vehicles performance.  Lastly, always remember to follow speed limits, maintain safe driving speeds in all conditions and be cautious of other drivers.  

Written on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 by
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Rutland Tire & Wheel in Savannah, GA and Rincon, GA

Need auto repair in Savannah? Tires in Rincon? A new set of rims in Statesboro? With two convenient locations in Savannah, GA and Rincon, GA, Rutland Tire & Wheel is proud to go the distance for our customers. We offer a full suite of automotive services, including auto repairs, rims, tires, trailer hitches and accessories, lift kits and leveling kits, trailer repairs, and more. Visit us for automotive care in Chatham County, Effingham County, and Bryan County - we're just a short drive away from South Carolina's Low Country and are centrally located to serve the Coastal Empire of Georgia. Certified by TIA, ASA, ASE, AC Delco, and BBB.

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