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Tire Speed Rating is No Joke

With nothing but an open road in front of you, it’s easy to press the gas pedal down a little more than normal.

Some people take a relaxed approach to travel, while others just want to get to their destination. Getting there as quickly as possible becomes the primary goal.

However, your tire speed rating can play a major part in how fast you can safely drive during your adventures. Today, we’re looking at why you should know the speed rating for your tires before hitting the road. Let’s get started!

What Does Speed Rating on Tires Mean?

The tire speed rating is the maximum mph a tire can maintain while functioning correctly. The manufacturer sets this recommendation to help increase the tire’s life and reduce the risk of a tire failure. The faster a tire travels, the more heat it produces.

Excessive heat can cause the tire to break down prematurely.

Tires with a higher speed rating will often provide better handling, especially at higher speeds. However, these tires aren’t always the best option as they offer a less comfortable ride and less performance in cold conditions and have a much shorter tread life. 

Pile of new tires
Don’t drive above your tire speed rating.

What Are H or V Ratings on Tires? 

Tire speed ratings are mostly in alphabetical order. It surprises many to discover that H and V are next to each other on the rating system. Speed ratings were first introduced in the 1960s and only used S, H, and V ratings.

Technology advanced quickly, which resulted in new speed ratings being added to the system. Both H and V ratings kept their original rating numbers of 130 mph (H) and 149 mph (V).

Sports sedans and coupes often use H-rated tires. However, if you’re driving a sports car, you’ll be more likely to choose a V-rated tire. Both of these tires have some of the highest speed ratings available. Make sure you check your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications to make sure you get the correct rated tire for your vehicle.

Pro Tip: Avoid RV tire blowouts with these 7 Tips to Prevent an Awful Accident.

Can You Mix H- and V-Rated Tires?

Manufacturers often discourage mixing speed ratings on a vehicle. Different speed ratings provide different benefits, including traction and control.

Having tires of different ratings can cause handling issues, especially during wet conditions. If you have to mix tires, you should always follow the rating of the lowest-rated tire on your vehicle. Just because 3/4 of your tires are V-rated tires, you should still obey the H-rated tire limits. 

New tires in a car.
Different speed ratings provide different benefits.

Which Is Better: T or H Speed Rating?

Despite being substantially further in alphabetical order, T-rated tires have a lower speed rating than H-rated tires. An H-rated tire has a maximum capability of 130 mph, but a T-rated tire falls behind at 118 mph.

H-rated tires are typically found on sportier vehicles, whereas a T-rated tire is more likely to be on family sedans and minivans. Which tire is better is primarily determined by how you’ll be driving. You’re not likely to drive a minivan in the same manner that you would a sports car.

So you don’t need quite the same level of handling and control that you would need in a sports car.

What Happens If You Go Over the Speed Rating of a Tire?

Exceeding the speed rating of your tires is never a good idea. However, simply exceeding the rating for a second isn’t likely to cause tire failure. Tire failures typically occur after prolonged exposure to speeds above the recommendation.

Tires generate heat as they roll down the highway. The faster the tire goes, the more heat it generates due to the friction between the tires and the road. As your tires heat up, tread separation and blowouts are more likely to occur. This can cause you to lose control, creating an unsafe scenario for you and other drivers. 

Pro Tip: Proper maintenance is key to keeping your RV tires working well! To learn how to protect them we uncovered Do You Need to Rotate RV Tires Regularly?

New tires to be bought.
Always know your tire speed rating before you hit the road.

Does Tires Speed Rating Really Matter?

Many tire speed ratings far exceed the posted speed limits on highways and interstates. However, speed ratings also give a good indication of a vehicle’s handling and traction capabilities. If handling and performance are essential, you’ll want to look further into the alphabet.

If you’re planning to tow a trailer, knowing the tire speed rating of your trailer is vital. Trailer tires are often more capable of carrying weight than going fast. Many trailer tires come with ratings as low as 65 mph. Those oblivious to the speed rating may hop on the interstate, set the cruise control at the posted 70 or 75 mph, and experience a tire failure several miles down the road.

Experiencing a tire failure is never a fun experience. They can cause thousands of dollars in damage and leave you stranded on the side of the road. Knowing your speed rating does matter and is very important to avoid a sticky situation.

How Long Are Tires Good For? 

The lifespan of a tire depends on many factors. It’s important to consider where you’re driving, the quality of the tire’s materials, and how you’ll drive on them.

Some tires can easily go for 50,000 or 60,000 miles, but the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends replacing tires every six years.

No matter the rating of your tires, make sure you’re regularly inspecting them to keep you and your fellow drivers safe on the road.

Do you know the speed rating of your tires? Tell us in the comments below!

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