UTQG Treadwear Numbers: What Do They Mean?

Friday, April 27, 2012 by Marshall Wisler

Often, I receive calls about a tire's life and the tire's relationship to its assigned UTQG treadwear indicator. UTQG numbers are assigned to indicate a tires overall level of performance and tread hardness. These numbers beginning at 0 for race products and traveling north of 800 for some of the longest lasting all-season tires, are nothing more than a general guideline to assist customers in making their correct tire purchase. 

While certain performance standards are held standard, such as Traction Grades and Temperature Resistance, UTQG treadwear numbers are published by the manufacturer based upon their test findings of a tire's life expectancy. It's important to note that not all manufacturer's standards are equal and similar ratings may lead to different real world results between similar product types.

On a large basis, however, most manufacturer's figures are surprisingly accurate. To gain a better understanding of the process, take a look at a few of our popular performance categories beginning with soft compounds and working our way up.

Track & Competition DOT

These tires offer maximum grip in race environments where performance is key and treadlife is sacrificed. In order to be competitive, these tires feature a soft tread compound that tends to be very adhesive. These soft tires wear much faster than a standard street tire and aren't recommend for street use. Take a look at the Hoosier A6, a popular autocross tire to see an example. Note this tire's low UTQG figure of 40.

Max Performance Summer

This category features high-performance tires designed for street use. Although not nearly as soft as the race products outlined above, they're at home in a performance environment. This is an optimal choice for a driver looking for acceptable levels of treadwear combined with a high-performing grip level. Even though these tires offer much more flexibility, I'm reminded of an economics lesson: There is no free lunch. The longest wearing Max Performance Summer tires will not outlast a good performing all-season option. Sometimes a driver must choose between smiles and miles. Take a look at our current top-rated summer tire, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport and its 300 indicated UTQG treadwear.

Ultra High Performance All-Season

Perhaps our most popular and best-selling category, the Ultra High Performance All-Season, promotes higher treadwear in exchange for some loss in ultimate dry grip. Although not as soft, and therefore not as sticky as the Max Performance Summer tires, these tires still place a good amount of focus on performance. This new breed of all-season tires typically lasts between 30,000-50,000 miles and allows the driver to experience practicality while also including good performance features such as a responsive sidewalls and higher speed ratings. The Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is currently the number one tire in this category and carries a UTQG number of 400.

Standard Touring All-Season

Tires in this category sacrifice performance in terms of ultimate dry grip to focus on maximum life and mileage. These tires are designed for conservative drivers that are looking for the best in ride, treadlife and practicality. These tires aren't meant for track use or for aggressive street driving, but often work well as purposeful all-season tires. The popular Hankook Optimo H727 is a great example of such a tire. Notice that its 700 treadwear fits this category to a tee.

Comments on UTQG Treadwear Numbers: What Do They Mean?

Friday, June 29, 2012 by Jim Anastos:
Although you give 'hints' of how to interpret the treadware #, it would be really helpful to see a scale..
For instance:
100=10,000 - 20,000 miles of wear
200=20,000 - 30,000 miles of wear
and.. as you said in the 'ultra high performance category'
300-400= 30,000 - 50,000 miles...
Thursday, September 20, 2012 by Sean Smith:
Tires I am looking from the same manufacturer have the same expected warranty life but the tread wear numbers differ by 18%. (The temperature rating of the higher tread wear tire is a grade lower than the other.) This seems to be a contradiction since I assume the warranty is based on expected life. Given this should one just buy the cheapest of the two and expect they will "live" to warranty?
Saturday, March 16, 2013 by Allan:
the tire I am looking at buying has a UTQG of 520 A B. what does that mean?
Monday, March 18, 2013 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
These numbers relate to tire wear, traction levels, and temperature resistance. For a full read, click the UTQG link above.
Friday, March 22, 2013 by Kevin:
it says at the top that race products have a '0' UTQG grading but i'm look for an all terrain and all i see is a UTQG rating as 'NONE' however the same tire at my local dealer will have a rating from 400-500?
Friday, November 29, 2013 by Mike Campbell:
I'm looking for the softest tire in a 195/70R 14 or 185/65R 14 for racing a 4 cylinder car on a 1/3 mile dirt/clay race track. Seems like every time I find a soft tire it's not available in my size, or in my size all I find are T rated tires with a 500 to 700 UTQG...Help!!!
Thursday, December 5, 2013 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
The softest tire available would be a Fuzion Touring with A UTQG of 480. -Marshall@tirerack.com
Monday, January 5, 2015 by skip:
Isn't it possible to give a tread wear rating that isn't so "nebulous"? FOR example Tread wear 520 = "something specific" ??

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