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What is the tyre speed rating for cars and motorcycles?

Table of content

  1. What is the speed index?
  2. Where can I find the tyre speed index?
  3. Speed rating for winter tyres
  4. Wrong tyres – consequences

When one thinks of the maximum driving speed of a car, horsepower is often the first thing that comes to mind. Although horsepower is important for acceleration and therefore also for maximum speed, many other factors also come into play. The tyres are particularly important. They are sometimes the decisive factor in determining the maximum speed entered in the vehicle registration document. This information is determined by the speed index (also called speed rating, speed class, or speed category).

What is the speed index?

what is the tyre speed rating

The speed index is a standard that indicates the maximum speed at which tyres may be driven. The basis for this index is the maximum design speed, which is entered in the vehicle registration document. As the name suggests, the maximum design velocity is based on the design, i.e. the type of vehicle or even the individual vehicle. However, manufacturers may decide to set a higher or lower class in the index for the vehicle's tyres. If you need new car tyres, it is essential to pay attention to this parameter. In case you are on the lookout for optimal tyre performance, check out our 195 65 r15 tyres prices and 225 40 r18 tyres for your car.

In principle, you can say that the speed classes classify tyres according to their capabilities, in connection with the other indications you can find on the tyres. Basically, the speed index expresses the maximum velocity at which the vehicle can (and may) still be driven safely on a level road. In total, there are 32 speed classes from A1 to Y and (Y) can be specified. The lowest class A1 allows a driving speed of 5 km/h. With speed class (Y), the permissible speed is up to over 300 km/h. The speed index is used worldwide, but is regulated and controlled by European and generally national organisations.

Where can I find the tyre speed index?

The speed index is located in the tyre designation on the side of the tyre. Here you will also find all the important information about the tyres such as the seasonal designation, the type and width of the tyre as well as the production date and more. The speed index is at the end of the sequence of numbers and letters, directly after the load index.

tyre speed rating

Speed rating for winter tyres

Winter tyres are an exceptional case for the rating. While the speed index for summer tyres is tied to the information given by the manufacturer, winter tyres with a lower speed classification may be used under certain circumstances.

When choosing summer tyres for car, you must adhere strictly to the manufacturer's specifications. EU Directive 92/23/EEC states that you may use winter tyres with a lower speed index as long as you visibly display a marking for the driver and, of course, also adhere to the maximum permitted speed.

Special regulations apply to M+S (mud and snow) tyres in Italy: Between 14 May and 15 October, i.e. in the summer months, the winter or all-weather tyres must at a very minimum comply with the specifications in the vehicle registration document. Despite exemptions, it is advisable to adhere to the speed classes specified by the manufacturer. Tyres with a lower speed rating may wear faster and may also lead to a different driving style.

Wrong tyres – consequences

If you decide to drive with the wrong tyres – be it a rating that is too high or too low – this will not be without consequences. Tyres are, after all, an essential component for your vehicle. Some of the ways the wrong tyres can affect your driving are:

Steering: If the wrong tyres are fitted, the vehicle will not behave as usual. It may be more or less sensitive to the movement of the steering wheel.

Bursting: The probability of a tyre blow-out is higher if it does not correspond to the prescribed rating.

Insurance + warranty: If there is an accident, the insurer could refuse to pay compensation. Also, if you choose the wrong tyres, the manufacturer's warranty will be null and void.

Penalty: If you are stopped by the police, you may receive a ticket causing you to have to pay a hefty fine of £2,500 for each tyre.

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