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Have different tire speeds, is this ok?

Car: Honda Accord 2002 EX 4cyl 2.3L automatic 105,000 miles.

Car manual tire specs: 195/65R 15 89H

(wheel has not been changed)

Specs on tires now:

Front: 195/65R 15 89H tread 5-6mm

Rear: 195/65R 15 89T tread 9mm

Tires have been replaced in pairs because of nail or being defective. Tires have always been bought at costco but now I am looking at discount tire direct/company for new tires. Tires have been rotated, balanced and aligned according to maintenance schedule. Car has done 105,000 mile maintenance check up and everything is fine! (Car used to belong to my mom)

These are my questions/concerns:

(1) speed rating on front tires are H but the speed rating on rears are T. Is this ok? Isn’t this bad for safety and car maintenance? Do tires need to be at the minimum speed rating stated in car manual which is H for this honda or can tires be of a lower rated speed as long as all 4 tires are of the same speed? (obviously the size of tire will be same 195/65R/89)

(2) I am not comfortable driving in rain at 5mm so I plan to replace the front tires soon. Rear(9mm) are still good.

Since budget is tight, what do you recommend to do out of the following:

(A) I have money to buy 2 very good tires (brand name $100-$125 without installation,balancing, fees, etc). Should I replace the front 2 tires and keep them at the car manual’s speed rating of H and then when I need to replace the rear tires (now at 9mm), purchase H-rated tires? this still means I will be driving with 2 different speed ratings. Is this ok?


(B) replace the front 2 tires with the same speed rating as the rear tires (which is T)? Therefore, all tires will now have the same T rating.


© purchase 4 new tires at speed rating H that are ok/decent ratings, obviously less expensive ($65) without the added fees, etc. The tires will be new, not made in China, and installed at a good place.

thank you for all replies and sorry for being long and wordy! worried about safety and tires are important!

  1. If possible use the same speed rating the manufacturer calls for. These days, until you get into the Z/W/Y speed ratings, the cost of the tires between a S/T/H speed ratings isn’t significant.

  2. If you buy two tires, the new ones will go on the back. This is a standing policy in most shops, including Costco.

What I would do is buy 4 good H-rated tires. I would recommend against mixing speed ratings, since there’s a good chance there’s a difference in grip levels between the T rated tires and the H rated tires, this can cause unpredictable handling characteristics in some situations. Tires and brakes are two areas where you should never cut corners IMHO.

In every day driving on dry roads the speed rating is completely indifferent.

In slippery conditions like heavy rain or especially winter snow/ice the difference in tires will pronounce itself. It may be enough to send your vehicle into a spin. The safest approach is matching the new tires with the tire staying on the vehicle. You end up with a balanced car.

In reference to handling there are quality T-rated tires that perform better than mediorce H-rated ones. You can’t make an inference simply based on speed rating.

The speed rating of H-rated vs T-rated is not significant. Many quality winters have a even a lower speed rating than T and are installed without issue on cars required H, T or even higher V-rated tires.

Go with option © if you can afford it, otherwise option (B) will work.

T-rated tires are fine for an Accord, and will not create an unsafe condition. And before someone starts screaming, just think about how many people never give speed rating a thought when buying tires. There are hundreds of thousands of people who buy tires on price alone. Not a good idea, I agree, but it’s true.

Four matching tires is best, but if they don’t match exactly make sure to keep matching pairs of tires on the same axle.

And whatever you do, put the tires with the best tread on the REAR. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s what you should do. The last thing you want is to lose traction in the rear before front, which can result in a very quick and dangerous spin.

You can use T-rated tires if you want. T-rated tires have a maximum speed of 118 MPH, while H-rated tires have a maximum speed of 130 MPH. There are other characteritics that may make the H-rated tires a better tire, like tread pattern and rubber compound, but it probably doesn’t matter for your Accord.

I did some research on the web site. They have a “tech center” that has lots of information on tires.

The 89 number is for load carrying capacity. In this case the tires are equal and sufficient for your vehicle.

The speed ratings differ; T- is 118, and H- is 130. Speed ratings are based on lab results in controlled conditions on tires in good condition with no defects.

I don’t think 12 mph difference is significant in your case. Unless you plan on driving in excess of 110 mph your T rated tires are fine.

Are you experiencing hydroplaning now? 5mm of tread should be ok. In heavy rain where the water pools on the road where the trucks and cars have worn the pavement hydroplanning is common, but should be short lived and indicates a need to back off your speed about 5 mph.

I would consider rotating the rear tires up to the front. Your tires all have decent tread. Front tires wear faster and on your FWD car and you can equalize the wear front vs back this way. Also the front tires are more likely to hydroplane and you’ll have the deeper tread tire on the front.

When getting new tires it is best to put the new ones on the rear first. Once the tires have worn in the traction difference between a tire with 5mm and one with 9mm tread is about the same if the tire is the same brand and tread design.

In rain and foul weather the best practice isn’t to “overtrust” your tires and to reduce your speed accordingly until you are confident with the traction and conditions. Wet roads are the most slick just after the rain starts. This isn’t hydroplaning, it is oil residue floating up on the surface of the water. If the rain is heavy and continues the road oil gets washed off and the traction improves. When in doubt slow down a bit.

Thank you for all your replies!!! I’m going to try and match all my tires with the best in the back.

Recently, when my car went in for service, they wrote 5mm for front tires. I honestly think it is much lower than this. I usually rely on the penny test and when i did it, the tread looked close to 3-4mm. I have not experienced any hydroplaning yet but I don’t want to wait until I do;) I plan to go to autozone today and purchase something that can measure tire tread.

A few days ago I was on the tirerack site. I entered my vehicle information and even answered questions regarding my driving style and concerns. In terms of importance, I rated tread life first, handling second , and noise and comfort last. Based on this, they suggested all season passenger tires with H-rating. Even if I added the standard and grand touring selections, they were still H rated but the load went from 89 to 91. That is why I was worried about having T rated tires. They didn’t offer me those choices.