magnification of tire speed rating on tire sidewall

Understanding Tire Speed Rating

Get up to speed on your tires.

If you feel the need for speed, you’d better have the right tires to go with it. Because if your car has tires with a low speed rating and you put the pedal to the metal, you could have big problems. So, once you figure out if you’re a slowpoke or a speed demon, you can locate the right tires for your driving habits by checking out a few little letters on the side of every tire. It’s called the speed rating.

What does speed rating mean on tires?

The speed rating on a tire indicates the maximum speed a tire can handle. Most cars, trucks and SUVs have speed ratings between the letters L and Y. A higher speed rating — or a letter that occurs later in the alphabet — means a greater maximum handling speed.

How do you find your tire speed rating?

When you look at the sidewall of your tires, you’ll notice a series of letters and numbers. These letters and numbers denote properties of the tire such as the size, type, load index and speed rating. The last letter on the list is the tire’s speed rating.

Using the example P225/65 R17 102H, the speed rating is H. You can then review the chart below to understand what top speed this tire can safely handle (H = 130mph).

Can you go faster than your tire’s speed rating?

While not advised, you can go over your tire’s speed rating for very short periods of time without damaging the tire or compromising safety. However, going over a tire’s speed rating for longer periods of time and at far higher speeds than recommended can cause damage to the tire and even tire failure.

With all the letters, numbers, types and options available, choosing the right tires for your car can seem complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. When you shop tires online, our intuitive search tool can help you determine which tire is right for your vehicle. If you need additional assistance, the tire experts at your local Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers are happy to help.

  • Speed Rating

  • L

  • M

  • N

  • P

  • Q

  • R

  • S

  • T

  • U

  • H

  • V

  • W

  • Y

  • Maximum Handling Speed (mph)

  • 75

  • 81

  • 87

  • 94

  • 99

  • 106

  • 112

  • 118

  • 124

  • 130

  • 149

  • 168

  • 186