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How to find the best Speed Rating for your car

The F1 Mugello GP saw some of the fastest corners in F1 at the weekend, so we are sure many of you have been inspired to make sure you have the correct and best speed rating on your tyres to corner like the pros. If you have never noticed the seemingly random numbers and letters on your tyre sidewall, then you won’t know that these are your golden ticket to finding out what your tyres speed rating is. It is the last two characters of these sidewall numbers that are known as the speed rating. 

What is the speed rating?

The last two characters on the sidewall of your tyre are known as the speed rating. The rating is given as a letter and each one represents a different speed.  The speed rating scale in regards to the mph and kph range from the letters L-Y. These intend to show the top speed a tyre is capable of maintaining over a sustained distance. The engineers, when trying to determine the correct speed rating for each vehicle type, will test each tyre at 10kph for 10 minutes and record its rating based on how well it performs within those tests. This is based on how fast the car can go. Ratings V, Z, W and Y for example, are for sports cars. L rated are usually for off road vehicles and light trucks. Most day to day family cars will come somewhere between bands R – H on the scale. Even for smaller cars, such as a Volkswagen Up! the speed rating will usually be recommended to sit somewhere in the middle of the scale.   

The hardness of the rubber is also a factor that is taken into consideration when deciding the speed rating. Harder tyres can, in fact, withstand regular use at higher speeds. If you have any questions regarding your speed rating, you can find all relevant information in your manufacturer’s handbook.

What to look for when buying new tyres

Provided with all the information you need between the tyres sidewall markings and your manufacturer’s handbook, you should be able to make a decision on which tyre is going to be both suitable and legal for your vehicle. The only reason you will need to change your tyres to a higher speed rating is if you have upgraded your car’s engine or tuned your car to go faster. There are a lot of brands and prices to choose from so we understand that buying the perfect tyre with the best speed rating for your car could be a slightly overwhelming task. Between one letter to the next on the speed rating chart, this usually equates to a difference of 6mph per letter. With this in mind, when shopping for tyres, you should always try and take note of the speed rating and work out whether it is going to match, or ideally exceed the maximum speed your specific car has been designed to do. If you are found at any point with tyres that are not in line with your vehicles legal speed rating, in which they are lower than they should be, you can be fined under the construction and use regulations for motor vehicles. This can also be recorded by your insurer when any checks by them are carried out. 

Will the speed rating affect my insurance?   

If your tyres are found to have the incorrect speed rating for your vehicle, this could give your insurer a valid reason to not pay out after an accident has occurred.  From the insurer’s eyes, fitting tyres with the correct, high-speed rating will ensure that those tyres can deal with the desired and higher acceleration loads and high-speed cornering the vehicle may undertake, even without reaching the tyres maximum speed limit.     

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