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Tire Tread Wear, Tire Traction
Tire Tread Wear.The number at the beginning of a UTQG grade is the tire tread-wear rating, which indicates how long you can expect a tire's treading to last in relation to the tread on other tires. For example, a tire with a tread-wear rating of 300 should be able to go twice as long as a tire with a rating of 150 before it needs to be replaced. However, the actual lifespan will depend on factors such as the type of driver you are, the climate you live in, and whether or not you keep your tires properly inflated. We can see that Falken has a lot of confidence in the tire tread wear of the SN211, giving it a rating of 720, and General gives the Altimax RT a rating of 600. Less than 10% of tires are rated that high, according to the NHTSA. The Goodyear Wrangler ST, on the other hand, carries a tire tread-wear rating of 340.
A tread-wear warranty is another indication of how long the manufacturer expects an all-season tire to last under optimal conditions. The General Altimax RT comes with a tread-wear warranty of 70,000 miles and the Falken SN211 is guaranteed for 80,000 miles. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 (starting at $72) also has a limited tread-wear warranty -- unusual for a winter tire -- of 40,000 miles.
Tire Traction.The next UTQG indicator, tire traction, rates the ability of a tire to stop on wet pavement. Tires are tested on straight-ahead braking only; the tire traction test does not take into account cornering, acceleration, or driving at high speeds. Tire traction is rated AA, A, B, or C. Tires with AA ratings are the best at stopping on wet pavement and models with C ratings have the worst tire traction. Both our picks for all-season tires are rated A, by far the most common rating for tire traction, while most sizes of Goodyear Wrangler ST tires are rated B.
Tire Temperature Rating.The final UTQG indicator is the tire temperature rating. It reflects the ability of a tire to dissipate heat by assigning it an A, B, or C grade. Tires that can't handle the high temperatures generated from driving risk tread separation and blowouts. In the United States, all tires are required to have a tire temperature rating of at least C. The three all-season models on our list receive B ratings. The Nankang XR-611 performance tire (starting at $49, Amazon) has an A rating, indicating high manufacturer confidence in the tire's heat resistance. The Nankang XR-611 also gets an A for tire traction but trails our picks with a tread-wear rating of 520.
Don't Bother Cheap Tires
Goodyear Wrangler ST
Many consumers pan the all-season Goodyear Wrangler ST, describing it as risky or flat-out unsafe. Users especially warn against driving in the rain with these tires. The Wrangler ST has a UTQG rating of 340-B-B (340-A-B on some sizes). It is commonly sold as original equipment on light trucks and SUVs. Read more »
Dunlop Graspic DS-3 Review
Goodyear Wrangler ST Review
Hankook Icebear W300 Review
Falken SN211 Review
General Altimax Arctic Review
General Altimax RT Review
Michelin X-Ice Xi2 Review
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