Tyre ratings explained

Last updated October 12, 2021

All new tyres sold in the EU are labelled with information covering three main rating factors – fuel efficiency, wet grip, and external noise. The tyre rating scale is colour-coded and alphabetised for both fuel efficiency and wet grip ratings, with the spectrum going from green A (the best rating) to red G (the worst).

The external noise rating is slightly different in that it’s measured with a three-point scale and also contains more specific information about the actual decibel (dB) output of the tyre.

Although the tyre rating labels are intuitive once you understand them, they can be hard to understand at first. We’re here to explain the tyre rating system to help you to identify the correct tyres for your car.

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Tyre fuel efficiency ratings

Fuel efficiency certifies a tyre’s rolling resistance by measuring the energy they lose in motion. Tyres with lower rolling resistance generally have better fuel efficiency, which is reflected in their energy rating.

Fuel efficiency ratings are indicated by the picture of the tyre with a petrol pump next to it, usually on the top left of the label. Tyres are rated from A-G for fuel efficiency, with associated colours going from green to red. A-rated tyres are the most fuel-efficient, while G-rated tyres are the least.

Tyre wet grip ratings

The wet grip rating on tyre labels indicates the tyre’s relative ability to brake in wet conditions. While several factors determine a car’s braking distance on wet roads, tyres are one of the main contributing parts.

On tyre rating labels, wet grip ratings are indicated with an alphabetic scale going from A-G. As with fuel efficiency, A is the best class of tyre while G is the worst.

Tyre external noise ratings

Measured in decibels (dB), the external noise rating on tyre labels specifies the noise pollution generated by a tyre. This rating isn’t so much about driving safety or economy, as with the other two ratings, but about increasing awareness about noise pollution caused by tyres.

The external noise part of a tyre rating label contains an at-a-glance indicator in the form of three sound waves symbols. One of those waves being black indicates a relatively quiet tyre, while all three indicates a relatively loud tyre. There’s also an indication of the actual sound output of the tyre, measured in decibels.

What are car tyre markings?

While we’re on the subject of tyre information, it makes sense to move straight on to talk about car tyre markings. You might have noticed before that all car tyres have letters and numbers printed on the sidewalls. These inscriptions specify the tyres’ size, dimensions, composition, and speed rating. You can also use tyre markings to calculate your car’s optimal tyre pressure.

How to read tyre markings

Using the 255/40 R20T specification as an example, this is what each section of the tyre markings mean:

Car tyre marking Description
255 Tyre width in millimetres
40 Tyre sidewall profile – sidewall height expressed as a percentage of its width
R Radial (the type ofconstruction; all tyres are now radial as opposed to the older cross-plyconstruction)
20 Diameter of the wheel rim, in inches
T Speed rating, which must matchor exceed your car’s maximum speed

Tyre speed ratings

The tyre’s speed rating is the last letter on the markings. As mentioned above, your tyres must match or exceed your car’s top speed. We’ve compiled a list of tyre ratings and their corresponding speeds for your reference:

Tyre speed rating Corresponding speed (mph)
S 112
T 118
U 125
H 130
V 149
W(ZR) 168
Y(ZR) 186
ZR Above 149