If you’ve ever been researching and shopping online for tires, you might have come across this acronym: UTQG. It stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grade, but what does that mean, and what do you need to know about UTQG ratings?
What are UTQG ratings?
The UTQG rating system originated in the US as a way to help consumers make more informed tire-buying decisions. Tire manufacturers give their own tires a grade for treadwear, traction and temperature. Together, these numbers makes up a tire’s UTQG rating—a three-digit number plus two letters. For example, 500 A A.
If you’re shopping online for all-season tires, for example, and you came across the Yokohama Avid Touring S, you’d see the UTQG rating ‘500A A,’ like this:
Now, if you do a close inspection of your sidewall, you’ll see your tire’s rating for treadwear, traction and temperature near the tire size. It’ll probably look something like this:
Manufacturers arrive at these numbers by comparing a tire’s performance results to the results of a standard control tire. So, what does each of those numbers really tell you about the quality of your tires? Here’s a breakdown.
What do UTQG ratings tell you?
Treadwear (the durability rating)
The treadwear grade is designed to give you a picture of the durability or life you can expect from your tire. What you need to know about the treadwear grade is this: The higher the treadwear number, the longer it’ll take the tread to wear down. Higher is better.
The control tire has a treadwear grade of 100. So, if the tire being tested gets a 200 treadwear rating, that means it’s expected to take twice as long to wear out as the control tire. To get a treadwear grade, tires run a 640 kilometre course for 11,520 km, with tread depths being measured every 1,280 to give a projected tread life.
Traction (the safety rating)
A traction grade tells you how well your tire can stop in wet conditions. The highest traction grade is AA, followed by A, B, and C. Tires with an ‘AA’ traction rating should stop at a much shorter distance than a tire with a ‘C’ rating.
Temperature (the heat resistance rating)
Tires are always up against the stress of heat than can build up driving at high speeds and/or in warm weather. If a tire gets too hot, blowouts can result.
The temperature rating, tells you how well a tire is able to resist heat build-up. That heat resistance is graded with an A, B, or C, with ‘A’ being the highest and ‘C’ being the lowest.
While understanding UTQG can help you make more informed decisions when you’re comparing summer, all-season, winter or all-weather tires, remember that the grades are given by manufacturers, so they can be subjective.