Tyre speed ratings What do they mean?

Carsguide ·

19 January 2012

Tyre speed ratings What do they mean?
Carmakers are required to fit tyres that can match a car's top speed

It's not necessarily the case, although most high performance tyres do exhibit better road handling characteristics.

The 'speed rating' of a tyre shown on the tyre sidewall is the speed it can withstand for a period of time without disintegrating. It is measured by running the tyre, under load, against a large drum.

To achieve a speed rating the tyre is run at different speeds for periods of time according to an accepted international standard.

Common speed ratings are:

  • S   180 km/h
  • T   190 km/h
  • U   200 km/h
  • H   210 km/h
  • V   240 km/h
  • W  (ZR) 270 km/h
  • Y   (ZR) 300 km/h
  • ZR   Above 240 km/h

Carmakers are required to fit tyres that can match a car's top speed, but when owners come to fit replacement tyres to their car they have to be minimum of S rated, which is 180 km/h.

The speed rating is moulded into the sidewall of all tyres along with the size and load rating.

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Written by

Graham Smith

Published 19 January 2012