The UTQG System
The UTQG system grades tires in three categories: treadwear, traction, and temperature. These grades are found on both the tire label, affixed to the tread of the tire, and molded onto the tire sidewall.
While the UTQG was established by the NHTSA, it is the manufacturers who test and score their tires, and as such, the grades are relative to each manufacturer. For the most accurate use of this system, one should compare tires, and their scores, only to tires made by the same manufacturer.
The rating for treadwear is a relative score given to a tire as an estimate of longevity. It is not a projected estimate of the mileage or tread life. Scores are determined by tire wear in closely controlled driving conditions. The rating for treadwear is given numerically, and is made in comparison to a reference tire given a 100. A tire that scores a 400 in treadwear should last twice as long as a tire with a 200. A comparable tire, made by a different manufacturer, may be given a score of 300.To reiterate; the scores for a comparable tire may vary from brand to brand. It is important, then, to only compare tire scores within a given brand. Actual treadwear may vary based on real-world use. Driving habits, proper air pressure, road conditions, and even climate can affect tread life.
The traction rating is determined by the tire’s ability to stop on a straight, wet surface under controlled conditions. Traction scores are given in letterform. From highest to lowest they are AA, A, B, and C. The traction rating does not determine a tire’s handling or cornering ability under wet conditions, nor does it test a tire’s traction in ice or snow.
The temperature rating is determined by a tire’s resistance to heat buildup, its ability to dissipate heat under regulated operating conditions, and at the manufacturer recommended air pressure. The scores are given in letterform, the highest being A, second B, and third C. The minimum requirement for federal safety standards is C. Although an A-rated tire runs cooler than a C-rated tire, the C-rated tire is by no means unsafe. While this rating gives an estimate of the tire’s ability to dissipate heat, outside factors should be taken into account. Maintaining proper air pressure, and ensuring that the tire isn’t overloaded, can help reduce heat buildup.