I wrote a while back about the SCCA treadwear rule and really how it makes no sense. But there is something that can be learned about a tire from its treadwear number.
I mentioned before how the treadwear rating of a tire, or the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) code, doesn’t mean anything about the actual wear rating of the tire. However, the number does tend to tell us about the intention of a tire. I’ll explain below:
Treadwear rating from 0-200:
Tires with a wear rating in this range are designed for competition. These are very short lasting, heat-cycle sensitive compounds that are DOT approved but are not actually designed to be driven on the street. If you do drive these on the street, expect the rubber to get hard before the tread wears out and possibly very little traction when the tire is cold.
There are 2 different kinds of race tires in this category. DOT approved race tires, and 200tw tires. The DOT approved race tires are like the Hoosier R7 or Toyo Proxes R888. They have minimal tread and are clearly for racing.
The 200tw tires look different, but their intention is the same. 200tw tires are designed specifically for the SCCA’s 200tw “street tire class”. But as I talked about before, they are actually race tires and should be treated like so. If you go to an autocross and talk tires, everyone knows that these tires are not fooling anyone – except apparently, the SCCA.
Treadwear rating from 201-300
Tires in this range are actual street tires. They can be summer only or all-season, but are going to geared for “high performance”. These will typically have stiffer sidewalls and softer compounds than regular tires and will not last as long. But this is what is usually put on sports cars from the OE. Tires in this range are what you will want to put on your car if it is mostly street driven with an occasional track day. These tires are also much more affordable than their 200tw counterparts.
Treadwear rating from 301-400
Tires in this range are start to get into everyday commuting tires but can still be summer-only high performance. For instance, the very good summer-only Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 has a UTQG rating of 340. But there is also many all-season tires in this range as well. Its kind of a mix here and more information about the specific tire might be needed to find its intended purpose.
Treadwear > 400
Tires with a treadwear of over 400 are typically every-day commuter tires. They are all-season, long lasting and usually have very long warranties. You will find these tires on every-day non-performance cars. These are the most common tires and are also the cheapest due to their high production volumes. These tires compromise overall traction for all-season performance, comfort, and noise management.
You can fit most tires into these categories simply based on their treadwear rating. Numbers 0-200 are the most misleading due to the nature of those tires as competition tires. But over 200tw is when you get into tires used in real world driving.