What Tires Wear Down the Fastest?
Hey there! Jared here from Tread Connection RTP. Since tires are definitely an investment, many of our customers are searching for tires that will last as long as possible. As a result, we often get the question, “What tires wear down the fastest?” Now, this is a complex question with multiple layers like a cake. Let’s see if you can have yours and eat it too!
Tire Grading System
As you can see in the photo above, a tire’s sidewall is covered in various combinations of letters and numbers, three of which are known as the Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG). The UTQG provides consumers with information on treadwear, traction performance and temperature resistance.
A bit of history:
Back in 1978, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) passed a bill requiring all tire manufacturers place this information on the sidewall of every tire in efforts to help consumers make informed buying decisions. As of today, the rule still applies.
How it affects today:
When we are trying to answer, “what tires wear down the fastest?” We will look at the treadwear rating. The test tire (the status quo if you will) that the NHTSA uses has a rating of 100. Tires will be graded against the test tire. So, if a tire’s rating is 200, it will last twice as long as the test tire. Simple right? Not really.
Here is where it gets interesting — each manufacturer gets to test and decide their own ratings. Don’t worry, IF the government tests the tire and their numbers are not in “balance” with the manufacturers reporting, they get fined. Some people are skeptical of this, thinking that their marketing departments will round up the number on the upside and hope they do not get caught. Though, we tend to believe that the testing has room for error, and engineers have to extrapolate information to the best of their ability.
So, what do you do? Balance and rotate the information you read up on. Note that a tire with a 300 treadwear rating could last 30,000 or whip out 60,000. Whereas a tire with a rating of 90 will likely wear out faster than a tire with 300.
Confusing, right? We think so too and we are in the tire industry! So, take it with a grain of salt, and instead of making a decision based on, “Which tires will wear down the fastest?” Look for a tire that suits your needs best.
Different Types of Tires
Tire manufacturers develop certain types of tires specifically to handle (to the best of their abilities), certain situations such as weather, road conditions, and road surface. So, if you are always taking a truck to muddy, rocky terrain, you would NOT want a summer tire. Here in RTP, you do not want a winter tire designed to perform at its best in sub-degree temperatures. Yes, it gets cold here… but not that cold and for that long. When you use tires for situations that they are not developed to handle, your tires will wear down faster!
Options for consumer car tires:
- All-Season → The name says it all. These tires will perform well (but not great) in all four seasons. “Standard all-season tires have tread patterns that allow them to be relatively quiet, have extended tire wear, and perform predictably in most weather conditions. They’re often the right choice for budget-minded consumers who drive vehicles such as subcompact and compact cars that don’t demand higher-performance tires.” (US News)
- Touring All-Season → This is the all-season tire with a little more comfort and a little less noise.
- Performance All-Season → These tires are made with a little bit more edge for the vehicles with slightly more horsepower that might see light snowfall in the winters and 100 degree temperatures in the summer.
- Summer Tires → These tires will perform well except in the winter. They typically will come with higher speed ratings, and are made to take fast and sharp corners. They are often used on high-performance cars.
*** Note that summer tires are designed with a lower treadwear rating. Even though, as mentioned above, the numbers are somewhat irrelevant, these tires are already skinnier than that of an all-season.
Options for Specialty Tires
- Racing Tires → These tires are designed with a lot of gripping capability and high speed and heat ratings.
- Winter tires → These tires are made for vehicles that spend time in the snow and ice. They excel when temperatures are below freezing, and the roads are “bad”.
Tire options for consumer trucks and large vehicles:
- Off-road maximum traction tires → These tires are made to prevent vehicles from getting stuck, and traverse intense terrain. These really should only be used by drivers that often take their vehicles off-road!
- Light Truck Tires → These are similar to touring all-season tires, but they are built to carry heavier loads.
- All-terrain Tires → These tires are made to withstand and perform well on the pavement while also performing well off-road.
Lucky for you, certain tires will not fit certain types of vehicles. So, that eliminates some of the options in your decision making process.
Driving Styles and Tips
You may have the “best tire in the world” that is intended to wear very slowly, BUT your driving habits and care of the tire can drastically affect your tires’ lifespan.
First and foremost, always keep your tires’ air pressure filled to the manufacturer’s specifications. We say this all the time, but for good reason! Have a tire technician check your alignment and please, for the love of your tires, rotate them! (Fun fact, most shops will rotate your tires for free during an oil change!)
Second, drive responsibly. I know, it is really tempting to push the speed limit, but believe it or not, this can wear out your tires faster. Especially here in RTP where our temperatures can reach 100+ degrees. Tires can only withstand so much heat, and due to friction, as you drive, the heat will increase. Now pair that with already hot temperatures, and your tires are feeling the heat! Be aware of your surroundings, avoid fast braking and always avoid potholes!
So back to the question, “What tires wear down the fastest?” There is not ONE answer. You have to slice into the cake and see what layers suit your needs best. Do your research, read consumer reports, and ratings. But most importantly, choose a tire that fits YOUR needs, do what you can to maintain the tire, and drive responsibly. At the end of the day, tires will degrade, annoying potholes will appear and pesky nails will be waiting to puncture your tires’ lifespan!
If you have any additional questions, please give us a call at (919) 636-3338! To book an appointment, either give us a call or schedule online.