While two tyres may seem pretty much the same at a glance, the truth is that there’s a lot that goes into each one of them that can make a significant difference to their handling, performance and safety on the road!
Found on the sidewall, the UTQG (Uniform Tyre Quality Grading) indicates a tyre’s Treadwear, Traction and Temperature resistance in controlled test environments.
While this rating originated in the US and is a requirement on all passenger vehicle tyres sold there, it is not legally required in Australia. Many tyres sold here, however, will still show its UTQG, making it a useful benchmark tool when assessing the characteristics of different tyres.
So how does it work?
Let’s break it down into the three different “T’s.”
Treadwear grades (ranging from 100 to 1000) specify the tyre’s projected wear rate, with a higher number indicating longer potential for wear life. Tyres are tested in on-road conditions over about 11,500km against a control tyre with a treadwear grade of 100. So a tyre with a tread wear grade of 200 has projected a wear life of twice the distance of the control tyre. Obviously, there are many external factors that affect how quickly and how a tyre wears (such as driving style, vehicle and road conditions), so the UTQG is an indication based on test conditions rather than a guarantee of tyre lifespan.
Traction grades are ranked from highest to lowest as AA, A, B and C, with their purpose being to indicate how well a tyre can be expected to stop in wet weather conditions. Once again, this testing is done in controlled conditions with the four grades given to the tyre based on their traction performance in these conditions. Achieving an AA ranking indicates outstanding wet weather traction, with most tyres falling into the A category.
Temperature ratings are given based a tyre’s resistance to heat generated when traveling at high speeds, with the highest rating an “A” and the lowest a “C”. Modern tyres should generally be rated an “A”.
So, in a nutshell, while the UTQG doesn’t guarantee things such as exact length of wear or performance over time in varying conditions and fitted to different types of vehicles, it is a benchmark that can be a useful tool in helping to choose a tyre based on its reported test performance in these three areas.