Shopping for tires? Here are some things you might want to know

When you shop for tires it is a good idea to understand things like size, speed rating, weight rating and tire wear ratings. Here are some helpful hints.
The UTQG (or Uniform Tire Quality Grade) is just one of the many markings that are on today's passenger tires. It provides useful information to consumers on which tire to buy based on tread-wear, traction and temp. dispersion capabilities. Tread-wear is often the most sought after part of the tire.

Most consumers wish to balance long tread-wear with handling capabilities. It it fairly easy to determine how long a tire will last using the UTQG. Tread-wear ratings go from "50" (super soft racing applications) to "740"+ (super hard long lasting touring applications). It goes up in increments of 20. The lower the rating, the softer and stickier the tire will be. The higher the number, the harder and more rigid the tire will be. Standard tread-wear ratings for passenger tires today are 280, 400, 540, 680, etc.

The first letters of the UTQG are the tires braking ability on a wet surface. The test the Dept. of Transportation uses is a G-force measurement of a skidpan that is under the test axle. The skidpan is pulled from underneath the car going 40 mph. Sensor on the axle measures the G's exerted on the ties and axle. Depending on the force applied, the DOT gives that tire the braking letter(s) going from AA, A, B, and C.

The second letter is the tires ability to disperse heat generated. Every tire sold will have at least a C rating. The letters are A, B, and C. A's are the most resilient to heat generation and remove heat the best. What an average UTQG would look like is 500AA, 280AAA, 680AB.

The tire size is another set of numbers that you'll find on the side of the tire. There are hundreds of sizes ranging from small commuter tires to large off-road truck tires. The first set of numbers in the tire size is a three-digit number that indicates how wide the tires is in millimeters. A typical size would be 195, 205, 245, 265. It will almost always end in a "5."

The next two digits after the "/" will be a ratio of how tall the sidewall is in comparison to the width of the tire. The higher the number the taller and higher profile the sidewall will be. A typical number would 225/ "55", 195/ "70", or 245/ "40".

The last set of numbers indicates how big of a rim that the tires will fit on. A letter usually precedes it, which would typically be a "R." Sometimes on sport tires you will get two letters, usually a ZR or VR. These letters refer to the speed rating of the tire. What this would look like is R14, R16, R17.

Some common sizes for tires are 205/55R16, 195/60R14, 235/45ZR17, 215/70VR15. The speed ratings measures how fast & how much weight the tire can carry before deforming. The numbers represent the load capacity and the letter represents the speed. There are 8 common speed rating letters: S, T, U, H, V, W, Y, and Z. All season "S" & "T" tires are meant for grip and usually low priced.

Touring "H" & "V" rated tires are meant for long lasting treadwear with comparable noise reducing and handling capabilities. Performance "W", "Y", and "Z" rated tires are meant for high grip and are usually higher priced than the all-season and touring tires. The high grip characteristics are offset by the low treadwear.

Approximates how many pounds a particular tire can carry. The higher the number the more weight the tire can carry before deforming.

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