T vs H Speed Rating: What Are The Differences?

It would be quite challenging for drivers to understand all markings on a tire sidewall. But these letters and symbols are very important when you buy a new tire or different tires. If you are a novice, these symbols can look like an algebraic equation or a coding line in need of a solution.

Understanding this, we will provide you with some useful knowledge by decoding a popular question: T vs H speed rating, what do they mean? and the difference between two letters to eliminate your confusion about these symbols.

What Does The T Or H Mean On Tires?

T and H represent tire speed rating – the parameter indicating the maximum allowed speed of the tire. Knowing this indicator will help drivers choose the right type of tire for the terrain as well as adjust the driving speed appropriately to ensure safety when driving in traffic. Therefore, distinguishing these indicators is one of the important pieces of knowledge that car owners need to equip themselves with.

tire numbers meaning
Knowing the tire numbers meaning will help to choose the right type of tire to avoid misuse and unsafe driving (Photo: pinterest.com)

What does T stand for on the tire?

If you used to look at the tire speed rating chart, you will see that the letter T corresponds to 190 km/h (118 mph). It means that the maximum speed you can drive is 180 mph and you should not exceed this speed limit. You usually see this letter on the tires of vehicles like minivans or family sedans. These tires are suitable for small vehicles, they are quite sturdy and can work on a number of different terrains but they will be better for driving on the highway. 

What does H mean on tires?

The H speed rating indicates your tire can endure speeds up to 210 km/h (130 mph) under optimal conditions. H speed rating at the lowest or at the start of the performance tire speed rating. You can commonly see it on coupes and sports sedans. H speed rating can be a good choice for drivers who always drive at a high speed or need to boost car performance. It is the maximum speed you can drive at If you are over this speed, you will risk damaging the tire. 

>> Related post: Understanding Tires Load Index vs Load Range on Car Tires

T vs H Speed Rating: What Are The Differences

what does speed rating mean on a tire
What does speed rating mean on a tire? (Photo: pinterest.com)

Based on the above definitions, we can see that the T and H symbols on the tires represent the maximum speed they support, recommended tire pressure, certain load capacity, and ideal road conditions. Speed rating H can withstand speeds of 130 mph while T tires can withstand speeds of 118 mph. It could be the first difference you can easily notice when talking about these tires.

The higher the speed rating, the softer compound, and the more grip the tire have to offer. Added grip means the tire will stop faster, it’ll turn more precisely, and have better acceleration. 

So, the H speed rating will have better control handling and brake compared to the T rating. Not only that, but H-rating tires also withstand a higher level of friction as well as heat resistance than T-rated tires. 

The final difference between these two types of speed rating is the purpose of use. T-rated tires are suitable for low-speed vehicles (trucks). In contrast, an H-rated tire because of its better cornering and braking ability makes it generally suitable for vehicles such as sedans, crossovers, or SUVs. 

>> Read more: How Much Is The Correct PSI For Spare Tire?

How To Choose The Right Tire Based On The Speed Rating?

Drivers need to know how to choose the right type of tire for the terrain to avoid misuse and unsafety during driving. Experts recommend that the vehicle speed be 10-15% lower than the tire speed rating. This is a way to avoid tire wear and potential damage. In case, you need to replace a new tire, the speed rating must be the same or higher than the tire installed at the manufacturer. However, the automaker does not recommend users use tires with a lower speed index because this can seriously reduce the vehicle’s ability to keep safe. 

Besides, the tire speed rating is directly proportional to the vehicle’s traction and braking force, but this can reduce tire life and performance when operating in low-temperature conditions. That’s why V, Z, W, and Y high-speed-rated tires are generally suitable for high-performance vehicles in warmer climates.

In addition, drivers can increase the tire speed rating to improve performance. But car owners absolutely must not reduce this index without reducing the maximum speed of the vehicle to a lower level. The tire speed index indicates the maximum speed at which the tire can maintain operation under the load pressure specified by the manufacturer. Knowing how to read the speed indicator not only helps drivers choose the right tires but also be more effective in controlling the speed on each terrain to ensure safety on each road.