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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Bethesda, MD
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Well, I'm not going to know the answer on the question about H vs. V rating driving qualitites on a set of otherwise *identical* tires. However, I just checked my current all season tires on the '00 Camry (on 17" wheels). I know they are quieter and more comfortable riding than the previous tires I've had over the years on that and some other cars. Yet, they are probably the best performing than all my previous tires in terms of steering and traction in wet and dry. I wanted to see if they were H or V rated... And guess what - turns out they are "W" rated.
I then proceeded to see how much deflection there was on the sidewal compared to my other car sitting right next to the Camry. Very similar - if I push the wheel sideways with my foot I could not tell if one deflects more or less (similar tire pressure, a bit more on the other car but it has thinner and just a bit taller sidewall S-rated LRR tires that are terrible for turning as they feel squishy).
So sidewall stiffness seemed similar.
But when I tap on the tire sidewall, there is a huge difference - the W rated tire gives sort of dead deep "thunk" sound suggestive of substance and thickness. Where the other car's tire feels thinner and sounds like a much shallower and thin-walled object when tapped.
Basically, while the sidewall is indeed more substantial on the W tire compared to the, it does not feel more rigid. It will likely be stronger without being firmer...
So the speed rating appears to have no direct correlation with ride quality: the W rated tire is quieter and more forgiving of road imprefections than the S rated one in my case of 2 very different all-season tires.