When shopping for tires the rating of most interest to consumers is the UTQG. However, this is also the rating with the least amount of consistency among manufacturers. It's important to realize that the Department of Transportation does not conduct these tests. The UTQG ratings are assigned by the tire manufacturers or independent testing companies they hire. NHSTA has the right to inspect and can fine manufacturers when inconsistencies are found.
The UTQG treadwear grades are based on actual road use in which a test tire is run in a vehicle convey along with standardized course monitoring tires. Vehicles repeatedly run a prescribed 400-mile test loop in Texas for a total of 7,200 miles. The vehicles can have its alignment set, air pressure checked and tires rotated every 800 miles.
Test tire's and monitoring tire's wear are measured during and at the conclusion of the test. The course monitoring tire is assigned a grade and the test tire receives a grade indicating its relative treadwear. A grade of 100 would indicate the tread would last as long as the test tire, 200 would indicate the tread would last twice as long, 300 would indicate three times as long and so on.
Inconsistencies occur after the 7,200 test miles have been driven.The tires have only experienced a little tread wear after the 7,200 miles test course, this means the tire manufacturers need to extrapolate their data from the test run and give their interpretation of how long their tire will last in relation to the course monitoring tires. Some of these assigned grades can reflect how conservative or optimistic certain manufactures marketing departments are in terms of treadlife expectations.
Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology
Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring
For instance, in the tire size of 205/55R16, the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology and Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring both feature an 80,000-mile treadlife warranty. However, the UTQG rating on the Goodyear is 740, while the Continental is 600. Both tires offer the same treadlife expectancy but have different UTQG ratings. Shopping by UTQG number alone, when comparing multiple brands, isn't always helpful. I always urge customers to look at the actual treadlife warranty to compare the treadlife expectancy of multiple tires.
Start your search by shopping by vehicle and then clicking on the "Warranty" tab to help you determine if a specific tire will meet your mileage needs.