What Are Speed Ratings?

The speed rating tells you the speed a tire can safely maintain over time. A higher speed rating means you will have better control and handling at higher speeds—and that the tire can take the extra heat. As a general rule, tires with higher speed ratings also handle better at slower speeds.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) set the ratings scale shown below. Tire manufacturers test their own tires and assign their own speed ratings. On the sidewall of every tire, you will find one of these speed rating codes:

M—Up to 81 mphN—Up to 87 mph
P—Up to 93 mph
Q—Up to 99 mph
R—Up to 106 mphS—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—(See Below)

What does a speed rating really mean?
If you reference the list above, you will see that tires with a Q speed rating can safely sustain speeds of up to 99 miles per hour. The tire may be able to reach higher speeds, but doing so for any length of time is neither safe nor recommended.  This statement also holds true for any speed ratings.

What is a Z Rating?
For tires rated about 149 mph, a Z rating may appear in the size designation.

Safety and Speed Ratings:

  • When you get new tires, choose tires with at least the speed rating your vehicle manufacturer recommends. Moving up to a higher speed rating may be  okay but do not go lower unless you have consulted with a professional, as this may impact the handling of your vehicle.

  • The speeds shown are test speeds; they are not recommended speeds. It is always important to maintain a safe, controllable speed.

Do you have questions about what tire is right for your vehicle?  Visit a Best-One® location, and one of our trained technicians can assist you.

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