• Karolena

Pay attention to this when buying tires!

Even though Professional Auto Care only has a minimal selection of tire offerings, I often get asked about tires. One of the tools I use when selecting tires the UTQG. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration created this system, and while the system isn't perfect, I find it helpful.

The Uniform Tire Quality Grading scale measures three tire factors in question; tread wear, traction, and temperature resistance.

All the treadwear testing happens in West Texas. Tire manufacturers need to drive with their tires along a 6,400-mile treadwear test course and follow specific driving procedures. (You can find the directions for the Course Monitoring Tire test online). "A tire that scores 200 can be expected to wear twice as well as the CMT tire, but its mileage won't necessarily be double." I have noticed a pattern that if the tire is a 640 rated tire, it will more likely last 60,000 miles. And if it's a 800 rated tire, 80,000 miles. However, you can have a lower UTQG listed with a higher mileage warranty. I have seen a 260 AB with a 40,000-mile warranty.

The Traction rating is crucial to me, especially being in Houston with our rainy weather. Traction is how well the tire grips the surface of the road. The rated tires are installed onto a trailer, and then the brakes are purposely locked up to see how they perform. They are tested both on concrete and asphalt surfaces. The highest traction rating is AA, and the lowest is C.

Temperature is a factor that most wouldn't necessarily consider when judging tire wear, dependability, and safety. The temperature test sees the "tire's resistance to the generation of heat and its ability to dissipate heat." If a tire gets too hot, it could lead to a sudden failure or, at the minimum, reduced tire life. A side note to mention here is that you must check what the tires and your vehicle can handle if you're towing or loading a car. Overloading a vehicle, excessive speeds, overinflating, or underinflating a tire can invite tire temperature-related failures.

One of the biggest arguments against the UTQG is that the government doesn't do any testing. The tire manufacturers themselves are the ones who perform the testing and assign the grades. So, in essence, you're hoping they're being truthful and have conducted the tests properly. However, the NHTSA will fine a manufacturer if they have been grossly overestimating their scores.

Take the number with a grain of salt. I think it's a great tool. Happy tire shopping!

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