Tyre speed ratings explained

Ever wondered what the letters and numbers mean on the side of your tyre sidewall? Tyre markings serve an important purpose, one of the most crucial being the tyre speed rating. The speed rating of your tyre is the maximum speed that tyre can handle and is essential when it comes to tyre safety. Go over the speed limit, and you could be risking your safety, as well as that of passengers and other road users.

In this guide, we answer all your questions about speed ratings on tyres, including how to find your tyre speed rating and how tyre speed ratings are calculated.

What is a tyre speed rating?

If you look at the sidewall of any road-legal tyre, you’ll see a collection of letters and numbers. These tyre markings cover (in order):

  • Tyre width
  • Profile
  • Rim size
  • Load rating
  • Speed rating

While all of these tyre markings are important to know, it’s crucial you know the tyre speed rating.

Tyre speed ratings are the maximum speeds that the tyre can safely handle. Instead of a number, they use a letter which corresponds to a maximum speed on the table below.

Quite simply, you shouldn’t drive your car faster than the speed rating on the tyres on your vehicle. If your car or vehicle has several different tyre ratings, you shouldn’t exceed the speed of the lowest-rated tyre.

Tyre speed rating chart

Letter Maximum Speed (MPH) Maximum Speed (KMH)
L 75 120
M 81 130
N 87 140
P 93 150
Q 99 160
R 106 170
S 112 180
T 118 190
U 124 200
H 130 210
V 149 240
W 168 270
Y 186 300
(Y) 189 300

You’ll find that most regular road cars will have tyres with an H or V rating. High-performance vehicles such as sports cars will come fitted with tyres with higher speed ratings, such as W, Y or (Y).

This tyre speed index should be used as a guide only.

What are tyre speed ratings for?

Tyre speed ratings are about ensuring that you are safe while driving. When you drive at higher speeds, your tyres generate heat. If you exceed the tyre speed rating, your tyres may not be able to cope, which could cause burnouts or tyre punctures.

The speed rating of a tyre is not just about speed and safety, but comfort too. A tyre with a higher speed rating may accelerate more quickly, perform better under braking and corner with greater precision – but they may not last as long or perform in extreme weather.

How to find your tyre speed rating

To find your tyres speed rating, look at the sidewall on the tyre and record the last letter. You can use the chart above to identify the speed rating of your tyre.

It’s that simple!

If you have any concerns about the suitability of the tyres fitted to your car, you can check your car’s handbook or speak to one of our trained technicians who can help you identify the right replacement.

Or, if you just want to find the right tyres that will fit your vehicle, entering your registration into our Halfords tyre finder tool will do the work for you. While you’re there you can find your nearest Halfords Autocentre and book an appointment for fitting too. We can even come to you, thanks to our mobile tyre fitting service.

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How are tyre speed ratings calculated?

The tyre ratings we use in this country are a European standard that increases in 10km p/h increments. When translated into miles per hour, it may seem a little strange.

You are likely to find that the speed ratings of your vehicle’s tyres are much higher than the speeds you’re able to reach in your car. This is to ensure that the performance of the tyre is always better than the performance of your vehicle. It also means it can cope with the stresses of driving, including hard acceleration and braking.

In the interests of safety, we should also point out that just because your tyre speed rating is over 100mph, you should always adhere to the speed limit wherever you’re driving.

Can I mix different speed rating tyres on a car?

You should only use tyres with speed ratings that are recommended by your manufacturer. Mixing tyres on your vehicle isn’t just inadvisable, it can be dangerous. We recommend that you fit identical tread tyres to each axle.

For the safest and most comfortable driving experience, you should fit the same tyres to all four corners of your car.

Can fitting the wrong tyres affect my car insurance?

If you decide to fit tyres that are outside of the tyre ratings of your vehicle – specifically tyres with too low a rating, you risk invalidating your insurance. You are also putting yourself, any passengers and other road users in danger.

Discover other issues that can lead to dangerous or illegal tyres.

You can fit tyres with a higher speed rating than recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you do this, you don’t need to advise your insurance company and you won’t face any penalties for doing so.

Need to know more about tyre speed ratings?

If you have any more questions about tyre speed ratings or want tyre markings explained in more detail, then drop in to your nearest Halfords. We stock tyres for all makes and models of vehicle and can fit them for you while you wait. Our tyre finder tool makes it easy to identify the tyres that will fit, book an appointment and get it done. We’re here to make your journeys safer, whatever speed you’re travelling at.

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Same day tyre fitting

Did you know that we now offer same day tyre fitting service across our garages nationwide? Simply book online before 1pm and we can replace your tyres the same day to help you get you back on the road safely and swiftly. Please note that availability varies by location. For more information, please head on over to our dedicated same day tyre fitting page where you can find answers to frequently asked questions, choose the right tyres for your vehicle and book your appointment.

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