Say what? I'm not driving a sports car!
More and more these days, people are driving on higher speed-rated tires because automakers are fitting their increasingly sophisticated vehicles with higher speed-rated tires.
Many sedans, for instance, are now fitted with H-rated (130 mph) and V-rated (149 mph) tires rather than T-rated tires (up to 118 mph). You wouldn't think a Camry comes with V speed-rated tires, but the LE version certainly does.
The phrase in the first sentence is a common reaction to "sticker shock" when it comes time to replace these higher speed-rated tires. Another common question is -- "I don't plan to drive 130 mph; why do I need an H-rated tire?"
It's not all about the speed. Tires with higher speed ratings offer handling benefits that match the performance of the vehicle. They're made with softer rubber compounds and stiffer construction that provide better cornering, stopping power and steering response.
Don't go down on the speed ratings
The first advice is . . . don't put a T-speed-rated tire on a car that comes with an H rated tire. Vehicle and tire manufacturers work closely together to match the tires to the vehicle's performance level, weight, etc. You don't want to spend $25,000 on a nice car and then diminish its performance with lower speed-rated tires.
Don't exceed load index for your tires
Also, you do not want to exceed the designated load index for your tires. The number of the sidewall before the speed rating is the load index for that tire and vehicle. Read this earlier blog post on this topic.
Check out other tire brands
You can certainly replace the original equipment tire brand with another brand as long as the size and speed ratings are the same. There are some good options out there that provide a good balance of performance, tread wear and price. The load index needs to be the same or higher as well.
Take our Mozzo Sport ultra-high performance tire (available in 40 sizes with W or Y speed ratings) for example. Advanced noise reduction technology contributes to a quiet ride, while double nylon spiral wrap technology resists heat build-up and maintains uniformity for a smooth ride. It is backed by a 50,000-mile limited tread wear warranty, which is very good for an ultra high performance tire.
If you are experiencing sticker shock, don't fret. Your trusted local tire dealer can provide excellent advice on the best tires for you, your vehicle and your budget.