What Does the T or H Mean on Tires? (Speed Rating Explained)

If you’re confused with “What does the T or H mean on tires?” you have come to the right place. In this article, you will find the meaning and significance of speed ratings, focusing more on the T and H ratings.

T or H Mean on Tires ~ Ran When Parked

You will understand the various characteristics of these tire types and the meanings of other tire codes.

What Do the Symbols T and H on a Vehicle’s Tire Mean?

T and H symbols on a vehicle’s tire mean the different speed ratings. T indicates a safe speed of 118 mph, suitable for standard passenger cars. H signifies a higher speed capability of about 130 mph, often found on sportier vehicles to enhance performance and handling capabilities.

The speed rating of a vehicle refers to the maximum speed at which it will operate effectively and safely. The manufacturers recommend this reading after testing the tire to find its various characteristics; more on that later in this article.

A tire’s suitability for high-speed driving depends on the speed ratings determined. There are many tire speed ratings, but the ones we will mainly discuss here include:

  • Speed Rating T: A speed capability of “T” on tires indicates that the tires operate effectively at speeds of up to 118 mph (or 190 km/h) under ideal conditions.
  • Speed Rating H: A speed capability of “H” on tires means that the tires are designed to operate safely at a speed of up to 130 mph (210 km/h) under ideal conditions.
  • Speed Rating V: A speed capability of “V” on a tire indicates that the tire is created to safely operate at speeds of up to 149 mph (240 km/h) under ideal conditions.

The location of these ratings can vary slightly on different tires and models, but generally, you should examine the tire sidewall. This is the surface of the tire that faces outwards when the tire is installed on a vehicle. Look for size information on the side wall, which is typically a combination of alphabets and numbers and will look something like 225/55R17.

If you ask, “Can I use V-rated tires instead of H?” In most cases, you can use V tires instead of H-rated tires, but ensure they benefit your vehicle’s performance and provide a comfortable ride. Knowing your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations in this regard is better.

Following this size information will be letters in uppercase like “H,” “V,” “T,” or “W,” which indicate the tire speed rating. When you observe the size marking, you will likely find letters at the beginning, like “P” or letters “LT.”

The letter “P” means that the tire is for passenger vehicles such as sedans, hatchbacks, and similar vehicles. On the other hand, the letters “LT” indicate that the tire is for light trucks or SUVs. You will understand this difference more clearly when we delve into the various characteristics of the tires.

If you were wondering, “What does the T or H mean on tires Michelin, or any other car?” now you have a general idea of what it symbolizes.

What Is the Origin of Speed Ratings for Vehicle Tires?

The origin of speed rating for vehicle tires can be traced to the mid-20th century when the automotive industry was developing steadily, and it was necessary to seek a standardized system to communicate the characteristics of tires. It initially emerged in Europe as letter codes, like “S” for 112 mph.

Origin of Speed Ratings ~ Ran When Parked

As vehicles evolved, there was an increase in automobile production after WW1 with increasingly better qualities like speed. So it became essential to inform the users about such capabilities of their vehicles.

This led to the origin of speed rating, which dates back to the mid-20th century in Europe and is now globally recognized to standardize tire information.

At first, only a few letter codes were recognized. Still, tires with different velocity ratings and qualities required additional symbols, such as “V” and “W,” which were introduced to shape today’s global tire standards for speed and safety.

Which Characteristics Differentiate Between the T and H Tires?

The characteristics differentiating between T and H tires include suitability for varying uses, performance at specific speeds, and ride quality. H-rated tires are suitable for high speeds and sporty cars, but T-rated tires are ideal for everyday use and provide a smooth ride.

Characteristics of H Tires ~ Ran When Parked

Here is a list of characteristics that define the T tires:

  • The speed on which tires with a T rating is up to 118 mph (190 km/h) under ideal conditions
  • They are more comfortable for everyday driving and are commonly found in sedans and minivans
  • These tires are good at handling different weather conditions and are often available in all-season tire categories
  • These are appropriate for vehicles that have standard load-carrying requirements that are not too heavy
  • They provide a comparatively smoother and more comfortable ride

Now, let’s discuss the properties of tires with an H rating:

  • These tires operate up to 130 mph (210 km/h) under ideal conditions.
  • Due to their improved handling, they are appropriate for sporty and performance-oriented vehicles.
  • They are also good at handling different weather conditions, and many options exist for high-performance touring tires.
  • They are also suitable for cars with typical load-carrying requirements.
  • They have better grip and cornering capabilities than the tires with a T rating.

Both the tire types are suitable for different purposes. If you prioritize a vehicle with high speed, the tires with an H rating will be better, and if you prefer less speed, you can have the tires with a T rating. This applies to the other tire characteristics as well.

Generally, an H rating on tires is considered superior to a T, as a larger speed rating can be more beneficial. Still, ultimately, the better tire type depends on your preference, driving style, and vehicle type.

What Do the Different Tire Wall Markings Tell About the Tire?

The different tire wall markings tell about the tire’s various characteristics. These markings typically indicate the tire size, load index, speed rating, and the tire’s construction type. A driver must know these tire characteristics to ensure good performance and safety.

Different Tire Wall Markings ~ Ran When Parked

The most prominent marking on a tire is the tire size marking, which indicates the dimensions of a tire. There is also a marking for the speed rating, which indicates the speed at which the tire can function correctly. Check out a speed rating chart to find the rating of your tire based on the alphabet marking.

Load Index refers to a tire’s maximum load-carrying capacity at its maximum inflation pressure. For example, an index of 95 corresponds to a load capacity of 1,521 pounds (690 kilograms). So before loading your vehicle, always know the load rating of the tires and check the owner’s manual to find your vehicle’s hauling abilities.

DOT code provides us with the tire’s manufacturing details, which is essential information. This code is a mixture of letters and alphabets that indicate the tire’s manufacturer, plant of production, and the week and year it was manufactured.

The first two digits indicate the manufacturing plant, after which the month and the year of its production are mentioned.

Things like M+S or M/S indicate if the tires can drive on mud or snow and signify improved traction on such adverse terrains. Although these tires can perform in wet, muddy, slushy, and light snow conditions, they are not specifically winter tires, as winter tires provide a much superior performance because they are designed for driving in snowy conditions.

A marking that is not present on all tires is the tread marking. A tire’s tread life is the estimated lifespan of the tire’s tread pattern under usual driving conditions. Tires come with different tread patterns that are all specialized for various purposes.

The maximum inflation pressure is a number that indicates the maximum air pressure that the tire can handle safely. It is always better for a diver to know the various tire ratings of their vehicle to know its performance rating.

Is It Permissible to Use H and T Tires on One Vehicle at a Time?

Yes, it is permissible to use H and T tires on one vehicle at a time if it is done while considering safety and performance. Tires with different speed capabilities should be mounted on separate axles, with higher-rating tires on the rear for stability. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safety.

Using H and T Tires ~ Ran When Parked

You must follow the guidelines below to use a combination of tires with H and T ratings:

  • The car has two axles, one connecting the rear tires and one connecting the front tires. Ensure that tires with the same speed capability are installed on an axle to maintain balance and safety.
  • Install the higher speed tires on the vehicle’s rear axle as it is more practical in emergencies or for carrying heavy tire loads.
  • Remember your driving preferences while deciding which tires to use; for example, if you want to drive faster, all four tires should be H-rated.
  • Always refer to your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations before making such a decision, as they may specify the tire types to ensure optimal performance and safety.
  • Always consider your local weather conditions to find which tire is more practical.
  • Different brands and manufacturers produce tires with varying characteristics, so research before choosing the tires.
  • If you are still confused about what tire to choose, consult a tire professional for guidance.


Now, you know the difference between the different velocity ratings of the tires and the various characteristics of these tires. Here is an overview of the main findings from this article:

  • The speed rating of a tire speaks about the maximum speed at which it can run safely.
  • T and H ratings indicate a velocity rating of 118 mph and 130 mph, respectively.
  • There are other markings on the sidewall of a tire, like a load index, DOT codes, and the tire’s construction type.
  • If you plan on using a combination of tires with different velocity ratings, do so while considering the safety, performance, weather conditions, and the brands of the tires.

Knowing the rating parameters and symbols will now help you choose the best tires for your car.

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