We live in an unparalleled age of consumer empowerment. We’ve never before had so much information at our fingertips to help us evaluate and compare products. We can quickly assess if one product is of greater value than another by a quick glance at a rating indicator.
On your next visit to the supermarket you can assess the relative nutritional value of products by their health star rating. YouTube and Netflix allow you to make thumbs up or thumbs down ratings on video content, to let everyone know how you felt about it.
You might not be aware, but even tyres have their own rating system now. Although New Zealand doesn’t yet have on official standard to test and rate tyres, any tyre sold here that has been produced to also be sold in America will, by US law, have a UTQG rating marked on its sidewall.
UTQG stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grading and consists of ratings for Treadwear, Traction, and Temperature. It’s a simple system operating under a ‘the higher the better’ rationale, and all SUV and car tyres sold in the USA will bear these three ratings.
Tyre buyers, without the help of an instore expert, can now quickly compare tread life and grip across brands – you no longer rely on price, brand reputation, and appearance as the only markers of the value of a tyre.
A treadwear grade will indicate a tyre’s expected longevity. For example, a tyre with a treadwear rating of 600 can be expected to last twice as long as a typre with a 300 rating (given the same conditions). Simply, the higher the number the better.
A tyre’s Traction rating indicates its gripping ability – An ‘A’ grade tyre is better than a ‘C’ grade, just like in high school! Just as important as tread life is a tyre’s ability to grip and stop in wet conditions, so traction is just as important to consider as treadwear when making your next tyre purchase. Traction grades range from AA, A, B to C, with AA giving your car the shortest stopping distance on wet roads.
Whenever possible select a tyre with high grades for both treadwear and traction, so as to not compromise one for the sake of the other – this is the single best way to be sure you are getting great value tyres.
A tyre will have a A, B, or C rating to indicate its resistance to heat. A tyre with an A-grade Temperature rating will be the most resistant to heat generation caused by sustained drive times during the hot times of the year. A higher rating means a tyre will be less likely to deteriorate, burst or suffer from tread separation.
It pays to compare the ratings of factory standard tyres with the Cooper equivalent for the same make and model of car. It’s highly likely that the Cooper tyre has a higher treadwear and traction rating, providing greater mileage and grip for close to the same price.
4WD & Light Truck Exception
Light truck and four-wheel drive tyres aren’t covered by the same legislation in the US as SUVs and cars, so don’t expect to see a UTQG rating on these. You can simply measure their tread depth to calculate relative tyre life – the deeper the tread, the longer the life of the tyre.