Apologies for the double post - I was lurking in a KISS newsgroup for some
strange reason and inadvertently x-posted to it instead of
I've had my 2004 Civic LX for a few days now and I really like it. I do
have one concern, however. The dealer replaced the original Firestone tires
with Bridgestone Insignia's, which I know are low end OEM-type tires. My
concern is that these tires are S-rated, but my manual says that H-rated
tires are recommended for the LX model (S is acceptable for the base DX).
I know that the maximum speed capability for an S-rated tire is 180km/h
(112mph). Because I never approach anywhere near that speed, I figure the
S-rated tires should be OK on my LX, notwithstanding that they probably
won't last long with all the driving I have been doing as of late. But what
I would like to know is if I could use a Q-rated winter tire on the car
during the winter months, or if this is too big of a drop from the
Thanks in advance.
Usually (though not always), the lower speed rated tires are less sporty
in terms of handling and braking capabilities (which affect safety).
They may be designed more for comfort; some are designed for long tread
wear and low rolling resistance (better fuel economy), while others are
Timothy J. Lee
In actual fact, the speed rating of a tire denotes that it was tested at a
prescribed speed, over a DOT approved course, for a given length of time.
Test are conducted by the tire manufacturer and they record and publish the
results. Nothing more, nothing less.
Some additional thoughts:
Some lower speed ratings also have a lower load rating. Probably not too low
for your Civic, but something to keep in mind as you lower the speed rating
and perhaps up the speed. It can overheat the tire if excessive and cause
failure at the most inopportune time.
My concern is the dealership downgraded the factory recommended tires for
your car. It's riding on a harder rubber so you'll probably get a few more
miles out of it but you're sacrificing the handling and performance
characteristics of the car. As someone else mentioned it affects safety as
True the speed rating determines how fast you can safely drive with those
tires but it will also affect the heat index and often wet weather traction
(the traction rating on the tires). Most people will never drive as fast as
the speed rating on the V and Z rated tires but they still make them for
performance reasons since it will affect slower speeds as well. The tires
will still work and you can drive safely on them. It's just a trade off.
Also good points. My plan was to ride out the Insignia's for the next month
or so before I put my winter tires on. The winter tires I used on my '93
Accord last winter will fit on my Civic, although I have to change the rims
due to different bolt setups between the two cars. Come next spring, I will
likely look for good H-rated all-season tires to replace the Insignia's.
For the record, I am not an aggressive, performance-minded driver, even
though I do tend to go about 5-10mph above the speed limit. :-)
You'll be fine. If you were an aggressive driver and had the car with
H-rated tires and decided to switch to S-rated, there's something to worry
about! If you're happy with the car and not an aggressive driver I wouldn't
worry. When you switch to H-rated I'm sure you'll notice a difference.
Given that there is no reason to throw away the Insignias. Use 'em up!
I would get a set of steel rims for the snow tires and leave the
Insignias on the rims they are already on and just swap 'em back on in
Don't know where you are located, but the Civic LX in the US (my son has
one) came with a low end Firestone S rated tire. A H rated tire was tested
and rated for a max of 130 as I recall and is stiffer which would give you
better handling. Some cars such as the Prelude you would not want to run
anything below a V rating given the suspension and capability of the car
which most owners would use. I have tended to go with higher ratings than
stock simply because of the better handling involved. But, then the Civic
LX in the US though the 03 model did not require anything more than an S
I am in Canada, but the manual that came with my car covers both Canadian
and U.S. versions of the '04 Civic. For Civics in both countries, the
manual specifies S for the DX only and H for other trim levels.
When I test-drove my Civic before buying it, it had the Firestones and they
looked quite worn. I didn't get around to checking the model and speed
rating of those tires.
The specs for 03 Civic LX US version on the Honda owners link states the
tire on the Civic is a P 185 /70 R14 87S. So, either they changed in 04 for
the same model or the Canadian version requires a stronger tire.
On 2003 and 2004 Civics, the speed rating on the tire from the factory is
dependent on the model which would also dictate tire size. Basically the
2003 DX, LX and Hybrid models had 14" S rated tires. The 2003 EX models had
15" H rated tires. The 2004 models follow suit with the tire size and speed
ratings with the exception that the LX models came with 15" tires.
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