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.