H vs T rated tires

Feb 11, 2008
My tire dealer says an H rated tire will ride smoother than a T because an H rated tire has softer rubber. Wouldn't the extra belt in the H rated tire make it rougher?

The roughness would come from sidewall construction, I would think, not the extra belt in the tread required to achieve an H rating.

That extra belt is the reason I would only buy H or better tires for any of my cars. Many H-rated tires are very smooth. I would buy based on reviews and brand.
As far as I understand H-rated tires are made better, but I think your dealer has it backwards.
My tire dealer says an H rated tire will ride smoother than a T because an H rated tire has softer rubber. Wouldn't the extra belt in the H rated tire make it rougher?

Usually the T rated tire will ride with more comfort over bumps.
now "smoothness" is another thing and imo is more related to the tire model than any T H V W rating

That being said if you had cooper touring tires same model in T H V the T should ride the softest and the V should be the sportiest.

A W rated Pilot sport might ride glass smooth on a roller at 100mph, but I guarantee in real world with little bumps and road imperfections it wont be as smooth as a T rated michelin defender.

but really are you shopping for tires? if so maybe bitog could suggest some specific worthy tires instead of tire man joe who might want to sell you whatever he got the most of.. or the biggest profit margin on.
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I usually go for an H if model and price are all the same

Maybe it's slightly stiffer, but I like the idea of the mandatory end cap ply which to me signifies a stronger tire

Perhaps the difference between a bubble and a bent rim that can be rode home and for a few days giving me time

Or a blowout that means changing the spare or calling for a tow
What kind of car is this on? I had a Taurus before and I always got the T rated tires over the H. I think the T gave you an extra 10k in mileage on the tires and as I had no intention of ever hitting triple digits, it didn't really matter. I think I actually got 80k out of them although that was the rears which I didn't rotate as much as I should have. No issues with bubbles or blowouts, but that was a 60 series tire. Basically the H has a softer tread compound and just doesn't last as long. I have Z rated tires on the current car and I'm lucky to get 30k out of them even though they're supposed to be good for 45k.
The biggest difference between the 2 are the speed ratings, which can also mean a better constructed tire. I would go with an H rated tire of the T and I doubt anyone would notice a real difference is ride quality except for the H being more stable.
I went with a "W" rated tire in the 215/45/R17 flavor on the elantra for a stiffer ride. (false sense of sportiness LOL)

BTW this is a OEM size for the Elantra, and it rides GREAT. no side wall flexing, smooth, and "firm" without being harsh.. Also does not jitter over bumps anymore in comparison to the 15 inch "T" rated tires that were on there. Speedometer is also spot on..

I'd also go with "H" or above.
I would pick the H-rated tire just because of the way I drive.

However, it is more important to make sure the tire you select meets the OEM load rating spec/index...should be in the owner's manual?

Being a Highlander, mostly likely either rated tire would meet the required load rating/index for your Highlander.

From my Sorento's owner's manual...unfortunately, not being the original owner, not sure what the max load rating is..

6. Maximum load rating
This number indicates the maximum
load in kilograms and pounds that
can be carried by the tire. When
replacing the tires on the vehicle,
always use a tire that has the same
load rating as the factory installed

Also...max rated speed.

T 190 km/h (118 mph)
H 210 km/h (130 mph)
H rated tires balance better in my experience, and they should be built better than T rated due to higher speed rating.
I'd prefer H over T for all season or summer tire while T is fine for winter tires.
Said all that I run General G-Max AS-05 W rated on Forte outside winter. T rated Sumitomo Encounter HT on Sportage outside winter.
Maybe it's time for me to step in an explain the difference between an T speed rated tire and a H speed rated tire.

For those who don't know, a speed rated tire means the tire passes a test where the tire, mounted against a test wheel in a lab, is held at the rated speed for 10 minutes. For a T speed rating, it's 118 mph, and for an H rated tire, it's 130 mph.

To do that the belt package of the H rated tire needs something to constrain the belt package from centrifugal forces - and usually that is a nylon cap ply,- across the entire belt width under the tread. There's some variations - sometimes an H rated tire will only use cap strips over the edges of the belts, and sometimes T rated tires will use full cap plies - but most of the time the difference is that cap ply.

Changes in tread rubber compound, changes in sidewall stiffness, etc. are NOT required to get the H speed rating.

There are 2 other things that need to be known to understand how this all works:

1) There is a technological triangle involving treadwear, grip (especially wet grip), and rolling resistance. To get better properties in one area, one or both of the other areas have to be sacrificed. (There are exceptions)

Since the additional heat generated by long wearing tread rubber is less significant that the effect the cap ply(s) has on speed rating, for practical purposes, a tire manufacturer COULD use the same tread compound regardless of the speed rating - Yes, even up to Y !!

HOWEVER, that is usually not what happens. Most tire brands consider the vehicles the tires are going on an make appropriate changes to suit the vehicle and create models tuned to a particular type of vehicle.

2) To get a better ride, (generally) the height of the filler is decreased. The filler is a stiff bit of rubber in the lower sidewall, mounted just above the bead wire bundle. Using a smaller filler also result is a less crisp response to steering input. Needless to say, people who drive high performance cars want that crisp response. Again, the models of a particular brand are tuned to the vehicle type.

But there can be quite a bit of variation from brand to brand in how they approach how they design there tires. So if one replaces an H rated tire of one brand with a T rated tire of another brand, one can't be sure if the differences experienced are the result of anything more than how the brands design their tires.

While the general trend is for higher speed rated tires to have tread compounds that grip better, but wear faster, and for higher speed rated tires for have stiffer, more responsive, but poorer riding sidewalls., when one is looking at replacing tires BUT NOT CHANGING SIZE, the difference in speed ratings doesn't mean much unless there is some other indication - such as a change in the UTQG rating.
I can tell you from experience an H tire will handle better (cornering and high speed stability) than a S rated tire. Years ago I had a civic that I purchased new, it came with firestone H rated tires. I replaced them with S rated tires to save money. They were terrible, I hated every mile and after 12k miles I replaced them with H rated tires and handling went back to normal. I was shocked.
Generally, your tire dealer has it backwards.

Second time today - believe no one just because of their job. 😁
This is from my experience when I was reusing old tires from one car to another car, of different size (195 vs 175), and different speed rating.

S rated tires are junk, basically tick all checkboxes so you won't get sued in court outside of insurance policy, but won't guarantee handling or safety. I won't use it for anything beyond a beater.

T rated tires are good for typical grandma cars, they do normal handling stuff and is what you expect of how a car should stop and turn and behave. It is comfortable enough and won't feel too heavy.

H rated tires are what makes a "sport compact" car should feel like, it handle better, use more fuel, stop better, feels more stable on high speed (I feel safe with H rated on regular 90mph driving), in the rain feels safer, etc. I would use at least H for a sport compact at least.

Higher priced tire from quality brand (General Altimax RT) has better comfort and smoothness than lower priced less brand cheaper tires (i.e. Goodyear Viva in Walmart), it is not a result of speed rating.