What Does Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) Rating Mean? Understanding Treadwear, Traction And Temperature Resistance

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What Does Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) rating mean? Understanding Treadwear, Traction and Temperature resistance

Key takeaways:

The UTQG rating of a tire has a format of “500AB” or “Treadwear 500 – Traction A – Temperature B“.

What they mean are:

  • Treadwear grade: 500 – These tires are built to go the extra mile and then some. They’ll outlast a wimpy reference tire (rated at 100) by about five times. 
  • Traction grade: A – Rain, rain, go away? Not a problem with these tires. They’ve got grip for days, especially when things get wet. With an “A” rating in traction, you’ll feel like you’re glued to the road. No need to break out your best dance moves to avoid a slide.
  • Temperature Resistance  grade: B – These tires can handle the heat when things get hot and steamy on those scorching summer days. They’ll keep their cool, dissipate that heat, and stay in top shape for the long haul.


  • When comparing ratings, be sure to compare only within a specific brand and model.
  • Each manufacturer employs its own reference tire during testing, which leads to variations in tread wear ratings.
  • Hence, although the same UTQG standard is used, ratings cannot be directly compared across different brands.

What does UTQG mean?

Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) was introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in the late 1970s to empower consumers and ensure tire safety. It is like a tire performance report card, which unveils how well tires perform in three vital areas: Treadwear, Traction, and Temperature resistance. 

Whether you’re navigating rain-soaked roads or craving an adrenaline-pumping drive, knowing about those Ts help you select the perfect tires for your driving style, local climate, and even your desired longevity.

Let’s Dive in!!

Treadwear rating

Treadwear provides an estimation of tire’s expected lifespan. It’s is like a tire’s fashion sense—it’s all about the gradual erosion of that trendy tread pattern over time. We measure it by checking how much of that stylish thickness remains. The deeper the tread, the better the tire’s ability to rock those wet or slippery conditions and keep you safe on the road. So, think of tread wear ratings as the tire’s longevity report card. A higher rating means it’s built to last longer, like a tire on a mission.

Traction rating

Traction grade is like a tire’s road gripping skills, preventing you from those embarrassing slip ‘n’ slide moments. Tread design, tire compound, and even the weather play a role in this grading game. Good traction is essential for avoiding squirrel dances while braking and keeping your vehicle in line during slippery escapades.

Temperature resistance rating

Temperature resistance relates to the tire’s ability to dissipate heat effectively and resist degradation under high-temperature conditions. It is like a tire’s ability to handle heat—it’s all about keeping those rubbery companions cool under pressure. Think of it as their chill factor when things start heating up on the road. We measure it by assigning grades based on how well they resist heat and dissipate it. A higher temperature rating means your tires can handle scorching conditions like a boss, while a lower rating might leave them feeling a little hot and bothered.

How to use UTQG ratings when researching and buying tires?

Treadwear grades

  1. Grade 100-300: The perfect mediators of the tire world, keeping everyone happy.
    • These tires strike a harmonious balance between grip, comfort, and longevity. They deliver reliable traction, agile handling, and respectable tread life for everyday driving. 
    • Yet, being average comes with a price. They may not excel in extreme driving conditions or high-performance vehicles. Think of them as a dependable friend who may not perform daring stunts but always has your back for regular tasks. 
    • With a treadwear rating of 100-300, they adapt seamlessly to sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and even minivans. If you seek tires for your daily journeys, these are the perfect choice. 
  1. Grade 300-500: The marathon runners of the tire kingdom, built to last and go the extra mile.
    • These tires, commonly found on touring or highway vehicles, are the wise sages of longevity. Their primary mission is to prioritize tread life, enduring countless miles with unwavering resilience. They transform your ride into a serene and comfortable experience, whispering as they roll.
    • However, like a wise old grandparent opting for a leisurely stroll instead of sprinting like a cheetah, they may sacrifice a bit of grip and handling.
    • With treadwear ratings of 300-500, these tires excel as long-haul champions. Ideal for commuters, road trippers, and highway cruisers, they offer durability and lasting allure, making them beloved by sedans, SUVs, and minivans.
  2. Grade 500-800+: the heavyweight champions of the tire nation, often seen in commercial or heavy-duty situations.
    • These tires are like the Hercules of durability, boasting exceptional longevity and tread life. They’re built to carry massive loads and conquer the toughest driving conditions.
    • But, hey, even mighty warriors have their weaknesses. Beside the sacrifice of performance, like grip and handling, they might give you a slightly firmer ride. Plus, watch out for those wet or slippery surfaces—they might not be their best friends. With treadwear ratings of 500-800+, these tires mean serious business. They’re the superheroes of commercial vehicles such as trucks and vans. If you’re hauling heavy loads, enduring stop-and-go driving, or venturing into rugged terrains, these tires will be your unyielding companions.

Traction grades

  1. Grade AA (Highest Traction Grade):
    • These AA-rated tires offer next-level traction, giving you the power to accelerate, brake, and corner like a boss. They’re your safety net, providing enhanced control, especially when things get wet. But even the coolest ninjas have a downside. AA-rated tires tend to have a softer rubber compound, meaning they might wear out faster than their less-traction counterparts. And be prepared to dig a little deeper into your pockets because these exceptional performers can be a tad pricier. AA-rated tires are the choice for those who demand top-notch handling and crave ultimate grip and control. They’re the superheroes of both dry and wet roads, so whether you’re cruising in a sports car, a performance sedan, or a luxurious ride, these tires will have your back, or rather, your wheels.
  2. Grade A:
    • A-rated tires bring reliable grip and handling skills to the table, keeping you steady and confident in various driving conditions—perfect for your everyday adventures. Though A-rated tires might not shine as brightly as their AA-rated buddies in extreme driving conditions,  they’re still your dependable sidekick. And keep an eye on their lifespan—they might have a slightly shorter journey compared to lower-rated tires. For those who seek the sweet spot between performance and everyday practicality, A-rated tires are your go-to pals. They’re the perfect fit for sedans, hatchbacks, and sporty vehicles that crave some handling prowess and grip.
  3. Grade B:
    • B-rated tires bring satisfactory grip and handling skills to the party. They’ll keep you cruising comfortably in most driving conditions, without breaking the bank. They strike that sweet balance between performance and longevity, like your reliable friend who’s always up for an adventure. Now, obviously B-rated tires might not perform as well as their higher-rated pals in extreme or challenging driving scenarios. They might need a little extra caution on wet surfaces, like a cat trying not to slip on a freshly waxed floor. Having said that, these tires are the jack-of-all-trades for everyday passenger vehicles. Whether you’re rolling in a sedan, SUV, or minivan, they’ve got your back. They offer a delightful blend of performance, affordability, and longevity, making them the practical choice for drivers who like to keep it real.
  4. Grade C (Lowest Traction Grade):
    • Don’t judge them too quickly! These tires offer affordability and longevity. They’re like budget-friendly buddies, providing acceptable traction in normal driving conditions, keeping you on the straight and narrow. Let’s address the elephant on the road, C-rated tires have low traction, like Bambi trying to ice skate. Grip and handling might not be their strong suits, especially on wet or slippery surfaces. You’ll often find these “Cautious Cruisers” on utility vehicles and trucks, perfect for daily commuters and light-duty warriors on dry roads. If you don’t seek speed records or challenge Mother Nature, these tires will be steady and reliable companions.

Temperature resistance grades

  1. Grade A (Highest Temperature Resistance):
    • Grade A-rated tires are like cool-headed firefighters, equipped with the highest level of heat resistance. They can handle scorching conditions with ease, leaving other tires feeling a bit… well, toasted. They bring enhanced safety and stability to the table, especially during extended periods of high-speed driving. Say goodbye to pesky heat-related issues like tread separation or dramatic tire blowouts. But hey, they might burn a little hole in your pocket with their higher price point. Remember that they are high-performance athletes of the tire world, so you have to sacrifice comfort, due to stiffer construction, in order to gain all-out performance characteristics. So, expect a slightly firmer ride on your road adventures. These tires are tailor-made for high-performance vehicles, sports cars, and those machines used for aggressive driving or track exploits. If you’re all about pushing the limits and demanding maximum heat resistance and performance, these are the tires that will ignite your inner speed demon.
  2. Grade B:
    • These Grade B-rated tires offer an intermediate level of heat resistance. They can handle some serious sizzle while keeping their cool. They strike a fantastic balance between performance and affordability, never leaving you high and dry. They can handle normal driving conditions and ensure you have a smooth and worry-free journey. Grade B-rated tires might not have the fiery heat resistance of their Grade A counterparts during extreme driving conditions. They might feel a little more heat in prolonged high-temperature situations. These “Heat Moderators” fit right in with a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to hatchbacks, SUVs, and minivans. They’re the perfect companions for everyday driving, commuting, and all your general-purpose needs. With their optimal balance of heat resistance, performance, and cost, they’re the superheroes you can count on!
  3. Grade C: (Lowest Temperature Resistance)
    • These Grade C-rated tires can get the job done in their own cool and budget-friendly way. They meet the minimum safety requirements and are perfect for regular driving scenarios at normal speeds. So you can save some dough for ice cream on those sunny days. However, being the lowest temperature resistance, they will not handle extreme driving conditions well. They might get a bit of a meltdown with accelerated tread wear or reduced traction when things get too toasty. Think of them as the snowman trying to survive a heatwave—it’s not their forte. They fit right in with lighter-duty applications, compact cars, or everyday commuting within moderate temperature ranges. If you’re cruising around town without planning to turn up the heat, these tires will be your good choice.

Considerations when comparing tires’ UTQG ratings 

When delving into the realm of UTQG ratings, it’s important to consider a few key factors:

Different tire manufacturers employ their unique control tires and testing methods, akin to secret recipes for ratings. Comparing tires from different brands or even different models is like trying to compare apples to oranges, or a taco to a croissant. Therefore, for accurate comparisons, it is advisable to adhere to the same brand and model, just as one would maintain consistency in their food preferences.

Ever wondered why you and your buddy are rocking the same tires, but you find yourself changing them sooner?

Yup, It’s life. LOL.

Specifically, it is the real-life factors, like how you drive and the conditions you encounter on the road, that mess with the actual tread life.

So what is my advice for you? 

Though UTQG rating are universal standard, it should be subject to your personal experience. different brands, models, driving style, driving conditions, all affecting tire performance and longevity. so just use those number for your personal reference.


Featured Questions Answered

How are the UTQG Grades Assigned?

UTQG grades are assigned based on standardized tests conducted by tire manufacturers.  Treadwear grade is determined by pitting the tire against a “model student” tire to see who wears better. Traction grade checks if the tire is a “slippery slope” or a “braking champ” on wet roads. And temperature resistance grade tests if the tire can handle the “heat” of high-speed adventures.

How many miles will a 400 treadwear last?

A treadwear rating of 400 implies a longer lifespan compared to a rating of 200. However, the actual mileage can vary due to factors like driving habits, road conditions, and maintenance.However,  rough estimates can be made based on previous mileage. Let’s say your 400 treadwear tire waved the white flag at 60,000 miles. Now, you’re eyeing a fancy 500 treadwear tire. Using some mystical formula, we get (60,000/400) * 500 = 75,000 miles! Voilà! But remember, this is just a guesstimate. Real-life variables like road conditions, maintenance, and the whims of fate can sway those numbers in unexpected ways. 

Which tires wear out first?

When it comes to tire wear, those poor front tires often draw the short straw. They handle the hard work of braking, steering, and carrying most of the weight. It’s like they signed up for a tire triathlon! But fear not, tire rotations come to the rescue, spreading the wear evenly. Just follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and give those front tires a break!

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Felix Dang

Hello there! I'm Felix Dang, the brains behind Wheel Drive Mastery. With a background in research and engineering, I'm here to help you navigate the world of wheels with confidence. At Wheel Drive Mastery, my mission is simple: to provide you with reliable insights and practical advice on handling, maintaining, and replacing tires. Through thorough research and analysis, I aim to unlock the secrets of tire mastery and empower you to make informed decisions. So, buckle up and join me on this exciting journey as we unleash the true potential of your wheels!

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