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Close-up view of a tyre code focusing specifically on the speed rating

Tyre Speed Rating/Index - What Does It Mean?

What exactly does the speed rating refer to, and why is it crucial to consider it when purchasing a tyre?

Whether you’ve bought plenty of tyres before, or it’s your first time, understanding these ratings will ensure you make an informed decision.

Let’s delve into the significance of speed indexes and how they impact your driving experience.

What is Tyre Speed Rating?

The tyre speed rating is a code indicated on your tyre’s sidewall, typically following the load index. It denotes the maximum speed at which the tyre can safely carry a load.

This rating ensures that the tyre is suitable for specific driving conditions and speeds. For instance, a tyre with a higher speed rating is designed to handle higher speeds than a tyre with a lower speed rating.

Decoding the Speed Rating System

The speed rating system uses letters of the alphabet to represent different speed categories.

Each letter corresponds to a specific maximum speed in kilometres per hour (km/h). The higher the letter in the alphabet, the higher the maximum speed capability of the tyre.

Here’s a table listing all of the speed ratings and their corresponding maximum speeds:

Tyre speed rating table

Importance of Maintaining the Right Speed Rating

Using tyres with an inappropriate speed rating can lead to safety issues.

For example, if your car is equipped with tyres designed for city driving (lower speed rating) but you frequently drive on highways at high speeds, the tyres may not be able to handle the heat buildup, resulting in premature wear and increased chance of failure.

The Impact of Tyre Speed Ratings on Performance

Handling and Stability

Tyres with higher speed ratings are designed to provide better handling and stability, especially during high-speed cornering or sudden manoeuvres.

This is due to their enhanced construction and tread design, which offer improved grip and responsiveness.

Heat Dissipation

At higher speeds, tyres generate more heat due to increased friction with the road surface.

Tyres with higher speed ratings are engineered to dissipate heat effectively, reducing the risk of overheating and potential tyre failure.

Braking Performance

Tyres with higher speed ratings generally offer shorter braking distances, ensuring quicker and more efficient stops in emergency situations.


When buying new tyres, always pay attention to the speed rating code and ensure it is suitable for your vehicle’s top speed capability.

Always match the tyre speed rating to your vehicle’s capabilities and driving habits for your safety on the road.

Louis from Tyre Geek


I'm Louis, an engineer passionate about helping Australians choose better tyres for their vehicles!