Understanding Tire Service Descriptions: Speed Rating and Load Index | YourMechanic Advice

Understanding Tire Service Descriptions: Speed Rating and Load Index

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There never seems to be a shortage of questions you are asked when you inquire about tires. What size do you need? What speed rating do you require? How will you be using them? What load index do you need?

Where do you find this information, and what does it even mean? It may seem overwhelming, but knowing a few key pieces of information will help you find the correct tire for your vehicle.

Where to find Load Index and Speed Rating on your tire

On the sidewall of your tire, your tire size is indicated in the format of 215/60R16. Immediately following the tire size is another number and a letter like 94S. This is the load index and speed rating of your tire. Let’s decipher it.

Load Index

The number is the load index. It indicates how much weight the tire can bear. The higher the load index number, the more weight it can carry:

Example Load Index Chart

As you can see, the number 94 means each tire can bear up to 1,477 lbs of weight, or 670 kg. The load index of your tires shouldn’t be reduced. A tire is matched precisely to a vehicle when it is engineered. Using a tire with a lower load index could result in undesirable tire wear or failure. You may choose to use a load index higher than your vehicle was originally equipped with, and the load capacity will increase.

Speed Rating

Beside the load index is a letter which indicates the speed rating. In our example the letter is S. As with the load index, the higher the letter in the alphabet, the higher the speed rating:

Example Speed Rating Chart

The speed rating is the maximum speed a tire can be operated up to. A tire’s speed rating is void if it has been punctured, patched, or otherwise damaged. The manufacturer can no longer guarantee the safe operation of the tire at high speed.

High Performance Speed Rating

High performance tires have a speed rating in a slightly different fashion. In the tire size, the addition of a Z indicates it is a tire capable of speeds in excess of 149 mph. It is shown as: 215/60ZR16

That was thought to be as much rating as was needed, and the Z rating encompassed all tires rated at 149 mph and higher. Since the inception of Z-rated tires, further clarification has occurred that identified specific speed ratings for above-149 mph speeds. W-rated tires indicate a tire capable of speeds up to 168 mph, and Y rated tires up to 186 mph. Anything beyond Y rated tires is shown with the load index/speed rating in parentheses. For example, it could be shown as (99Y).


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Chris

21 years of experience
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Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

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Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

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Edmar
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Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

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Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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