Niagara Gazette

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September 27, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Selection and maintenance of tires for maximum life

Niagara Gazette — How should you select the best tires to suit your needs? What characterizes an all-season tire? What is involved in ‘plus (up) –sizing’ tires? How many snow tires should you use on four-wheel or two-wheel drive? What should you do to maintain your vehicle’s tires for maximum life? These are questions I get asked frequently.

When purchasing tires, let the tire experts know your driving habits so that they can suggest the best tires for your car. If you want to feel confident (and ask the right questions), learn how to read the UTQGS (Uniform Tire Quality Grading System). The UTGQS information is molded onto the sidewalls of the tires and it grades tires on three factors: Treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance.

TREADWEAR

This grade is based on the wear rate of a tire when tested under carefully controlled conditions. For example, a tire graded at 200 should have useful tread twice as long as a tire graded at 100. Obviously, tire life (in miles) varies depending on actual driving conditions. Variation in driving habits, service applications, attention to proper maintenance, and road conditions all contribute to treadwear.

TRACTION

Traction grades represent the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement as measured under controlled conditions on asphalt and concrete. The traction grades from highest to lowest are: “AA,” “A,” “B,” and “C.” Tires graded “AA” may have relatively better traction performance than tires graded “A,” “B,” or “C,” based on straight-ahead braking tests. These grades do not reflect cornering or turning traction performance of the tires.

TEMPERATURE RESISTANCE

This grade reflects the tire’s resistance to heat and its ability to dissipate heat. Sustained high temperatures can cause decreased tire life or sudden tire failure. The grades from highest to lowest are: “A,” “B,” and “C.” “C” grade represents the absolute minimum requirements by federal standards. This grading system is based on proper inflation, proper mounting, and the assumption that the tire’s load is within its capacity.

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