Ok to purchase different tire speed rating?

HI, I have a 1997 Volvo S90 (205/55VR16, 91V) w/Michelin MXV4+ tires that need replacing. I put about 2k mi/yr on the car, mixed city and hwy. So, CA and no snow, but winter rain. So I suppose I need an all purpuse/all season tire? Went to tirerack.com and found by filtering for test results and surverys, the Michelin Harmony #1 followed by the Michelin Hydroedge GreenX and the Goodyear Assurance ThipleTread as #3 but all really good survery satisfaction numbers. Problem is that the Harmony is only rated T and Volvo recommends V. The service dept at Volvo says don’t even think of putting on a tire w/a lower rating (especially a T which is two levels below) and Costco says shouldn’t be a safety problem but they’d want me to sign a waiver that I know this is two levels below the Volvo recommended rating. Michelin makes a Primacy and Energy MXV4 H and T ratings. Anyway, tirerack’s best tires that fit my all-season criteria are Ts and Hs with 1 Yokohama V.
So, should I be comfortable going down one rating level to the H and get a Michelin or Goodyear, or should I just stay w/the best V rated I can find because it’s a safety issue, a couple of hundred more for 4 tires, and just not complicate my life? What am I really losing from the V to the H? Any thoughts in general about what’s smart vs. stupid way to look at this purchase? I don’t buy tires often enough to be educated in this and would really appreciate some advice.
Thanks in advance.

I have used H rated tires where V rated tires came with the car. Many H and V rated tires share basic construction and tread pattern, and differ only in speed rating, which relates to their ability to dissapate heat at high speeds. I would not go to a T rated tire because you will lose some handling capabilities.

I use tirerack.com and their recommendations are usually spot on. The H rating is 130mph, the T rating is 118mph and the V rating is 149mph. I don’t think that you will ever run at these speeds so the decision is up to you. I would go with the H rating but it’s really your decision.

The BIGGEST difference in these tires is the PRICE…When the Volvo was new, they must have considered it to be a “performance car” , at least for magazine road-test purposes, so it came equipped with the “V” rated tires.

At this point in it’s life, certainly the “H” rated and even the “T” rated tires will safely meet your needs.

One reason makers put V rated tires is to be consistent with the car’s top speed, tires from the factory have to be able to last at that speed, not that anyone would ever do it.

An important factor is that tire load rating is proper for vehicle.

Sometimes it requires H and V rated tires to handle this load. Generally construction of H rated and V rated tires is more substantial than a lower speed rated ones.

Tires along with brakes and exhaust do not seem to be a good place to skimp on.

The speed rating has little or nothing to do with the load rating…

There is more to a tire than speed rating - you might find the load rating for those T rated tires aren’t what is needed .

The tirerack selection process takes load rating into account, which, like Caddyman said, is separate from speed rating.

I don’t think dropping to the H will be an issue, as long as the load rating is adequate. Dropping to the T might start to change the handling characteristics from what Volvo intended.

You will probably notice a difference in how they handle. Just have to be aware of this and drive on.

I suspect the '97 Volvo (15 years old) no longer drives like Volvo intended anyway…But yes, a “T” tire will not be as “crisp” handling as a “V” tire…You must take that into consideration when you are doing the 75 MPH lane-change cone test…

My first reaction at reading the service was this is the ideal place for a summer tire. In other words, the snow capability of an all season tire is not going to be used and at 2K per year, the tires will be old before they are worn out…

BTW the average summer tire has much better wet traction than the average all season tire, so I would be focusing in on the wet traction rating and that will probably drive you towards H and V rated tires.

I agree with all the pervious thoughts. Unless you plan on running wide open at high speeds some where else, there are many more important reasons to choose one tire over another. Traction for a given situation being just as if not more important.

@Caddyman - I concur load rating is unrelated to speed rating. However some tire sizes only offer certain load ratings in limited speed ratings. The combinations seem crazy out there.

It’s just too much data! :slight_smile: But you guys are all great. Thanks so much for all this. Just got off the phone w/a sales person at Tirerack. He confirmed that the MINIMUM speed rating for my car is listed as “H” so I don’t have to feel guilty going down from a “V” even though my Volvo dealer didn’t agree. Difference in price at TR is only $5/tire so probably will do the “V” anyway. Michelin Primacy MXV4 seems to fit the bill. Probably Costco as Tirerack’s price was $40 less for 4 tires, but shipping is almost 40% of the total! Sales tax is 8.75% so this seems like a no-brainer on that front. THanks again. Happy/save driving. Now, after this daunting experience I’ll go shoot myself. :slight_smile:

Consider a less expensive tire with an H or V rating. Michelin’s are great tires, and also cost a lot. I have Yokohama Avid ENVigor tires on my car. You can buy then as H or V rated. At Tire Rack, the H rated are $428 for 4 and the V rated are $480. The Michelins you mentioned are both T rated, so you should probably forget about them (3 ratings lower than V). All the H or V rated Michelins except the H rated Pilot Exalto H/S are well over $500. I mention the Yokohama tires because I like mine but more because they are an example of a good tire that cost a lot less than equivalent Michelin.

On motorcycles the v rated tires are similar to the lower speed s tires. According to what I’ve ben told is that the higher the speed rating, the thinner the tread to help dissipate heat better at high speeds. Since my BMW won’t even go 130 mph I’ve run h tires for 155000 miles with no problems. Don’t know if this translates to car tires.