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How Slow Do You Have to Go?
The origin of tire speed ratings can be traced to Europe where they were needed to match high-speed tire durability with the unlimited vehicle speeds permitted on roadways like the German Autobahn. And even though the highest speed limit in the United States is 80 mph, speed-rated tires have become commonplace here due to the many vehicle models being sold globally.
Speed-rated tires use tire compounds able to withstand the anticipated speeds and add internal structural reinforcements to strengthen, stabilize and control the tire’s shape as it rolls. Higher speeds require more capable compounds and stronger structural reinforcements.
Unfortunately even the strongest compound or internal reinforcement can’t prevent small screws, sharp nails or accident debris from piercing through the rubber compound and between the steel belts and fabric cords leaving the driver with a slow leak or a flat tire. Now comes the need for repair and this is where the tire manufacturers have different policies.
Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) Policies
The RMA is an industry association whose membership includes most major domestic and foreign manufacturers selling tires in the United States. The RMA collectively establishes the foundation of industry policies, from which the tire manufacturers can specify their company’s exact position.
The RMA makes available training presentations and workshop posters to assist tire technicians with the steps necessary to properly repair tires. Each tire manufacturer specifies RMA tire repair procedures must be followed precisely to have any tire repair deemed proper.
The RMA’s stand on puncture repairs is as follows:
|Industry Association||Speed Rating||Multiple Repair Locations|
|Rubber Manufacturers Assoc.|
|As per manufacturer||Repairs cannot overlap.|
Some manufacturers specify
While RMA establishes industry standards, their procedures are superseded by any policies and detailed instructions made by the tire manufacturers.
Tire Manufacturer Policies
A few tire manufacturers allow a punctured tire to retain its speed rating when returned to service if it can successfully pass a thorough exterior / interior inspection and be repaired following the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) specified multi-step procedure.
Several other manufacturers specify their highest speed-rated tires (originally V-, Z-, W- or Y-speed rated) can be driven no faster than the 130 mph speeds permitted of a lower H-speed rating.
However, most tire manufacturers reason that since they have no control over the severity of the damage caused by the puncture, the destructive stresses encountered if the tire was driven while underinflated/flat or the quality of the repair itself, they cannot confirm if the tire has retained its full integrity or high-speed capability. Therefore, most tire manufacturers have established policies that a punctured and repaired tire no longer retains its speed rating and should be treated as a non-speed rated tire driven no faster than 85 mph.
Finally, a few tire manufacturers recommend outright tire replacement, as they will not accept repaired tires for warranty consideration or do not endorse repair of V-, Z-, W- or Y-speed rated tires
A summary of tire manufacturer speed-rated tire repair policies are listed below:
Tire Manufacturer’s Puncture Repair Recommendations
|Manufacturer/Brand||Speed Rating||Multiple Repair Locations|
|BFGoodrich*||Maintained||3 repairs, minimum 90° apart*|
|Bridgestone**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Continental***||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Dick Cepek/Cooper**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Dunlop****||Maintained||Repairs cannot overlap|
|1 repair, H and above|
|Firestone**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Fuzion**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|General***||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Goodyear****||Maintained||Repairs cannot overlap|
|1 repair, H and above|
|Hankook**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Kumho**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Michelin*||Maintained||3 repairs, minimum 90° apart*|
|Pirelli||V and Above||Repair Not Endorsed|
|H and Below||Maintained||2 repairs, minimum 180° apart*|
|Toyo*||V and Above||Reduced to H||Repairs cannot overlap|
|H and Below||Maintained||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Sumitomo**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|Uniroyal*||Maintained||3 repairs, minimum 90° apart*|
|Yokohama**||Voided||Repairs cannot overlap|
|*Only 1 repair permitted for run-flat tires |
**To be driven as non-speed rated (85 mph/137 kmh maximum)
***Voids materials, workmanship and tread wear-out warranties
****Only 1 repair permitted to retain H and above speed ratings.
NOTE: Tire Rack will not repair any speed-rated run-flat tires because we cannot confirm their internal structural integrity.
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