What Does ZR Mean On A Tire? Tips To Distinguish R Vs ZR Tires

By David Barlow
Last updated: Nov 27, 2022
What Does ZR Mean On A Tire

Many of you must be giddy with the various letters and symbols printed on the variety of tires when you first walk in the tire market, especially the letter ZR and R. But do not be worried; even the veteran might mistake those letters sometimes.

What Does ZR Mean On A Tire?

ZR on the tires is a speed rating category, which implies an over 150 mph speed. 

Since automobiles have significantly developed and the car speed has exceeded what was thought impossible – 150 mph, the ZR symbol was created to imply the case. 

ZR is split into Y, W, and the original Z-rated tires. You can double-check with the tire manufacturers when buying new tires to see what appropriate speed rating you need: W, Y, or Z.

What Is The Difference Between R And ZR On Tires?

As mentioned above, the ZR-rated tire indicates the performance of tires. On the other hand, the R letter implies it has a radial structure.

Originally, ZR used to be a sort of category radial tire rating speeds over 149 mph. Yet, with the growth of the automobile industry, the car speed has also increased extensively, which is much faster than it used to be. So the business has replaced the ZR label with a more user-friendly speed measurement system. 

Moreover, the R symbol can also reflect the tire’s speed rating of 170kmph or 106mph.

How To Distinguish The Letter R In Speed Rating And Radial Construction?

What Does A Tire Speed Rating Mean?

Tire Speed Rating
Tire Speed Rating

The tire speed rating means a category including different symbols implying the maximum speed you can reach while driving the vehicle with particular tires.

As previously stated, earlier tires employed numerous letters to correspond to a certain speed classification (like R and ZR); however, modern-day tires only use one letter. 

These identifiers are commonplace throughout the current tires business, so you can ensure they always correspond to the same meaning. 

These symbols remind you of the appropriate speed, which means if you exceed the allowed speed, you will stand a chance of risking your tires with overheating problems or even a full blowout.

How To Distinguish The Letter R In Speed Rating And Radial Construction?

Many people can not distinguish ZR tires vs R tires and mistake the R symbol in these two cases because the single R can symbolize both speed rating and radial construction, which leads to a common belief that the R on the tire relates to speed rating. 

The main reason for this misunderstanding is that most drivers know that their tires include radial construction. So they always regard the R letter as speed rating but not radial construction, which is basic knowledge. 

A basic way to distinguish the two letters R is to look at their position in the sequence. For example, a tire sequence can be P215/65R15 95H or P225/70R16 87R. 

In both cases, the first R (65R15 and 70R16) all imply radial construction. So the second R in the latter example (87R) would refer to speed rating. 95H in the first example is another speed rating category like 87R.

See more: Speed Rating H vs V


Do you need to have four similar speed rating tires?

You do not have to get all tires with the same speed rating tires, but mixing tires is not highly recommended to ensure your safety randomly. You had better consider your situation to decide on suitable tires. 

For instance, if you possess a slow car for basic daily transport and never reach a high speed, getting tires with various speed ratings is fine. Yet bear in mind that these tires must be equally worn out and at the same dimensions. 

If you drive your car on rough surfaces or use it for grazing purposes or as a mini truck, having differing speed ratings on all four sides is not a big deal. On the other hand, if you usually drive your car on the highway and usually travel around, never mix tires from different classifications as they might lead to serious accidents.

Moreover, if you have to go a long road with a mixed-tired car, acknowledge the lowest speed of the four and never exceed it. If the tire gets any Overspeed problems, you will not know what is waiting for you.

Why are there different speed ratings for car tires?

Various speed rating systems are available nowadays because tires with greater speed ratings are also constructed differently. Most standard tires are designed to help cars accelerate and brake more quickly while increasing grip in the correct conditions.

R-compound commercial tires are a typical type of road-legal performance tire. However, they are not as durable as standard tires and are less efficient in the rain or when not fully warmed up. R-compound tires also seem to wear down faster, especially if they aren’t properly maintained.

How to find out your tire speed rating?

If you want to know your tire speed rating, look at the handbook. It is also possible to discover the type on the driver’s side door jamb, the gas tank hatch, or the glove box door — wherever that shows the correct tire code for your car.

As mentioned above, a speed rating is generally the final item in the character sequence of the tire’s size code; it is straightforward to figure out. For example, if the code is P205/60R15 79R, the speed rating will be 79R.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, our article helps you figure out the definition of ZR tires and the difference between ZR and R tires.

Simply put, the symbol R indicates both the radial construction and the speed certified for 106 mph, while ZR tires used to be known as the over 149 mph speed rating tires. So keep in mind these notes to master your car.

David Barlow

Automotive Experts at World Tire Review

Hi everyone, I’m David (Tireguy). I believe that finding tires can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration for almost every driver. That’s why I would like to bring my experiences and knowledges to develop World Tire Review blog, it will give people a deeper understanding of what choosing the right tire is really like!