One of the number and letter sequences on the sidewall of your tire is the uniform tire quality grading (UTQG). The UTQG system is managed by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and it provides three pieces of information about the specific tire – tread wear, traction and temperature rating.
First, the numbers contained in your tire’s UTQG tell you it’s tread wear. A higher number here is preferred, rather than lower number, because this number gives you a general idea of how long this specific tire will last. The government determines this number by testing this type of tire on a government track. Since you likely will not be driving your tires under the same exact conditions, there is no need to consider this a precise time span. Instead, the UTQG number is a fairly accurate estimate of how long your tires should last.
Next in the UTQG number and letter sequence is a letter or two letters that tells you the traction capability of this specific tire. The highest-rated tires (the tires with the best traction) have a rating of AA. The lowest UTQG traction rating is C. When determining these ratings, the government characterizes traction as a tire’s ability to stop the car on wet concrete or asphalt. The UTQG traction rating doesn’t consider a tire’s ability to corner well or poorly.
And last, the UTQG rating displays a single letter (A, B or C) which is the tire’s temperature rating. This UTQG rating tells you specifically how well or how poorly your tire can dissipate heat as well as how well it controls heat buildup. Excessive heat will often the cause of premature tire wear. If a tire is unable to dissipate heat effectively or is unable to resist the destructive effects of heat buildup, its ability to run at high speeds is reduced. A tire with a C rating is rated to run at speeds between 85 to 100 MPH. B rated tires are rated between 100 to 115 MPH. An A rating indicates speeds over 115 MPH.
Not unlike the UTQG tread wear rating, the temperature rating the government gives a tire is based on very specific conditions… one of which is that your tire is always properly inflated. Under-inflating or overloading the tires or driving at excessive speeds will create more heat for your tires than the government tested for.
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