Time for new tires: H vs V

So, it’s time for tires. Finally down to (or darn near close to it) the 2/32nd mark. I bought this car used with 144k miles on it, just came back from a 6k mile trip, and even though the previous owner put Firestones on it, I’d have to say they’ve really been great tires.

I’ve spent a lot of time over at Consumer Reports, reading their ratings, and going over the customer reviews. CR highly recommends the Michelin Defenders as a top-rated all season tire (with 90k tread life!), but the customer reviews don’t add up (there were numerous complaints from reviewers that the Michelin Defenders only lasted 35 or 40k, and that Michelin was less than helpful when it came to the warranty).

After looking over the ratings, I’ve finally decided on the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus. Apparently, it comes in both H and V speed ratings. What’s on my Suzuki now is a 91H.

However, what this reviewer said at CR really caught my eye. I was just wondering what the consensus was here, if there’s any validity to what he’s saying:

I did a lot of research and called several tire shops… I was told by Costco and others that even if you don’t ever drive as fast as the speed rating (H is 130mph and V is 149mph), the safety (esp. braking grip and resistance to heat), performance (handling as well as traction), and tire constructions (quality of compound, number of nylon spiral layers, and sidewall-tread joint, among others) are distinctly different. This information is NOT detailed by Consumer Reports, and only indirectly confirmed by the DOT UTQG ratings for Temperature and Traction, or by reviews of braking traction.

I have to say that I’m not driving a Jaguar (as this guy was) and I’m not a speed demon… however… I do travel some mighty lonely stretches of highway at times, and with speed limits here in the southwest on the interstates at 75mph (I think in some parts of Utah it’s 80), it’s not uncommon for me to be going 80 and 85mph for long stretches.

I would be interested in knowing if the Car Talk community finds validity in what this guy is saying… is there THAT noticeable of a difference in quality on the construction of an H rated tired versus a V rated tire? Or is H good enough for my little ol’ Suzuki?

I disagree with that quoted comment - there is often very little or no difference in day to day driving characteristics between a given tire model in H vs. V speed rating. Tread designs are often identical, the difference is in the tire’s ability to handle the heat generated at extremely high speeds.

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I totally appreciate what you’re saying… that probably from day to day, I’d never notice the difference between an H or a V.

I guess my only question was… is there any real difference between the quality of the construction? I mean… surely, the V rated tire must have something in it that makes it different from the H rated one?

The main difference for a higher speed rating is the ability to dissipate the heat generated. Like I said, many tire models are available as both H and V versions, with little difference. Between brands/models, there can be a lot of difference, of course.

@CapriRacer - any comment?

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Sorry, I disagree with that.

The primary difference in speed rating is the ability to withstand the centrifugal forces. (Or is it centripetal force? I can never get those straight.)


I stand corrected. But for a given tire model, are there other significant differences between an H and V-rated tire? Ones that would affect my decision to buy one for non-high-speed driving?

As a general rule, An H rated tire will have a single cap ply and the V rated will have 2.


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Go with H rated for softer ride since their sidewalls are less stiff, and because you don’t do spirited driving.

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We stock some Michelin Defenders at work

And I’m very confident OP would not get anywhere near 90K out of those tires

No way, no how

I would guess more like 30 or 40K

Based on what I’ve experienced, I would have to say those CR reviewers are absolutely correct, in that the tires just don’t last long

All our Defenders are T-rated. AFAIK, they are not available H-rated or V-rated

Considering we’re talking about some kind of Suzuki, V-rated would be overkill, and way more than what’s needed

Unless this is some kind of Suzuki sports car . . . ?

What does the owner’s manual call for . . . I’m guessing it’s H-rated

Yeah, 91H is what’s on there now. And really, I have to say, whatever kind of Firestones are on there now, they’ve worn really really well.

I came up with the Pirelli option after reading a LOT of reviews on CR. Basically, for every single tire that had more than a few reviews, there was somebody who LOVED those tires… “these are the best tires ever” … and also at least one or more people who had the opposite experience… “these are the worst tires ever.”

With the Pirelli’s, it seems that they had a bigger ratio of positive to negative reviews.

I called my local Costco. You can only get Michelin or Bridgestone with them. Personally, I’m pretty sure I once had a Toyota that came with Bridgestones, and they seemed fine… but the one Bridgestone CR did review barely made the cut.

Also… another bonus with the Pirellis… at least in theory anyway… more than one person said they thought the 70k tread life warranty was approximately realistic. That’s at least something, I guess.

I dunno, I guess tire buying is an incredibly personal decision, but I’m kind of shaking my head, because the CR reviewers and the reviews posted by their readers don’t seem to correlate with one another… at least… for the most part they don’t seem to.

Reader reviews are typically not objective. People do not usually use tools available to paid reviewers like CR or Tire Rack. Given a choice between professional reviews and personal reviews, I’ll take the professional reviews. That is a big reason why I bought Continental PureContact tires for my Accord.

Edit: H rated, BTW.

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You are making this too difficult. Just put your vehicle in the various web sites ( Costco- Discount Tires-WalMart ) and see what they have for your vehicle. With all the rebate programs out there or the buy 3 get 4 deals you might save money and even buy something you never thought of.

We have Pirelli’s on our performance vehicle but I would not chose them over a decent less costly tire on our daily driver.

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Actually, Costco sells Michelin, Bridgestone . . . and BF Goodrich

So that should give you some more choices

FWIW . . . I am NOT partial to Firestone

I may be mistaken, but I thought Firestone owns Bridgestone

I have a slightly higher opinion of Bridgestone tires, versus Firestone

How many miles will you drive per year . . . ?

LOL, it’s centrifugal force… which doesn’t actually exist at all. It’s inertia forced to go in a circle by centripetal force instead of straight. An object in motion will continue in a straight line unless acted upon by some outside force.

To run a little cooler, the tread rubber will not be as thick on a V rated tire as on a H rated tire. Therefore they won’t last as long…The treadwear rating will be lower…In some cases considerably lower…You can save money and get better tire life from an H rated tire all things being equal…

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Nevertheless, there are several V-rated tires on CR and tirerack, which have very high treadwear ratings

Not so simple, the original equipment tire is the Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 with a H speed rating, UTQG rating 300AA and tread depth 11/32". This is a common O.E. tire, we sell these often.

The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus has a V speed rating, UTQG 600AA and 12/32" tread for a few dollars less.

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I’ve sold many sets of the Serenity Plus over the last few years and everyone has been very happy with them. They ride nice, handle well, good traction in wet conditions, and seem to last.


Who makes Serenity Plus . . . ?

H-rated all-season tires, I presume . . . ?

Sounds like a solid, all-around performer :smile:

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Firestone/Bridgestone. They merged several years ago.