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Speed rated tires

My '98 Acura 3.5RL currently has 215/60HR16

tires which are wearing out! The tire and brake shops tell me I need VR rated tires which are about $59 more each. Do I really need these high speed tires for normal highway cruising? I would think that the higher rating might come with a rougher ride and shorter life. What is the deal here and what do you experts think?


We get this question every couple of months. My stance is that you can get lower rated tires, assuming you NEVER drive faster than the speed rating of the tires you get. This opens up a larger selection, lower prices, and longer wear. However, if you are a “spirited” driver, these compromises may not be satisfactory for you.

One potential problem: your preferred tire dealer may refuse to install tires with a lower speed rating. Liability issue. Gotta love our litigious society.

I don’t know of any tire dealers that will install tires with a lower speed rating that originally came on the vehicle. It’s a liabilty issue. You can say you’re not going to drive the vehicle at the rated speed of tires. But what happens if you borrow the vehicle to someone, or sell the vehicle to someone who could drive the vehicle at the rated speed of the tires, and the tires fail? Guess who gets sued for installing the wrong speed rated tires? The tire dealer.


Thanks to today’s lawsuit-happy society, most places will insist on whatever speed rating covers the top speed of your car. A lower speed rating is safe as long as you don’t drive faster than the speed rating and as long as the load index is adequate.

If you go too far down from V-rated, you’ll typically lose some performance that you ought to have in a sports sedan like yours. H-rated sounds like a good compromise to me.

You may be able to turn up a place that will go with the H-rated tires if you call around.

Well, someone put the H-rated tires on his car. I put H-rated Hankook tires on my '88 Supra, even tho the car originally came with Goodyear Eagle Z-rated ‘Gatorback’ tires. Pep Boys never questioned the speed rating.

No. Put the lower speed rated tires on, you won’t have any problems with them.

20 years working for Goodyear and not once have I had a complaint when putting a lower speed rated tire on.

I’m sure if you google “tire speed rating”, you’ll find all sorts of sources explaining the letter code system. Here is but one source:

An H rating means the tire should be able to sustain 130mph for ten minutes without failing, and a V rating means the tire should be able to sustain 149mph for ten minutes without failing. HR and VR roughly correspond to H and V, respectively. states HR/VR ratings were not supposed to be used in this country after 1991, but states they were still Acura OE in 1998 (

Somewhere, someone knows the answer to your actual question, but I am not that person. In my inexpert opinion, you probably don’t even need H, let alone V, for normal U.S. highway driving. If you’re never going to go faster than 90mph, S is entirely adequate. The car may have come Autobahn-ready from the factory, but please don’t drive like that around here. But if you do, get the H.