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Tyre markings with a letter R signifying a radial tyre

ZR vs R Tyres - What's The Difference In Australia?

Curious about the letters ZR and R on your car’s tyres?

These codes actually contain important details about how well your tyres can perform.

Let’s explore their meaning and significance.

What Do ZR And R Mean?

The letter R in a tyre code indicates that the tyre is of radial construction, as just about all passenger tyres are these days.

Before modern speed indexes were used, some tyres used the code ZR to indicate that the tyre had a very high speed rating, the equivalent of modern day V, W or Y ratings.

It’s less common to see this code these days, but some performance tyres still use it, in addition with a standard speed rating.

Why Are These Codes Important?

Maintaining Safety

Tyre speed ratings are critical because they directly impact your safety while driving.

When a tyre is pushed beyond its rated speed, it can overheat and lose traction. This diminished grip on the road can lead to accidents, endangering both the driver and passenger.

In Australia, most roads have a maximum speed limit of 110 km/h. This speed limit aligns well with the capabilities of R-rated tyres.

For the average driving conditions within the country, R tyres offer sufficient performance and reliability.

Performance and Specialised Needs

If you own a high-performance vehicle or frequently drive at speeds higher than 240 km/h, ZR tyres become essential.

These tyres are engineered to withstand the extreme forces and heat generated by such speeds, ensuring optimal grip and control.


The codes ZR and R found on tyres provide valuable insights into their speed capabilities and construction type.

When choosing the right tyres for your vehicle, consider your driving style, vehicle specifications, and the type of experience you seek.

By understanding these codes, you can ensure a safer, more enjoyable driving journey.

Louis from Tyre Geek


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