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NHTSA Announces Tire
Passenger vehicle tire quality has improved
since last year, according to ratings released today by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSAs 2005 ratings cover more than 2,400 lines of the most
popular passenger vehicle tires sold in the U.S. The agency rates
tires based on traction, treadwear and their ability to resist
This year, nearly 90 tire lines received the highest possible
rating for traction. Also, four tire brands (Big-O, Michelin,
Bridgestone and Cordovan) produce tire lines that received
exceptional ratings for tread durability. This year, nearly 700
tire lines were given the highest grade ("A") for heat
Higher quality tires, along with good maintenance, provide
consumers a greater margin of safety. The tire grading system is
a big help in the often-confusing process of selecting tires,
said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.
Because heat can increase the risk of blowout, temperature
ratings are important. Tires with the highest heat resistance are
graded "A" followed by "B," or "C"
(lowest). A "C" grade represents the minimum
performance required in a high-speed test set by federal
For some consumers, stopping distances on a wet road can be
important. Traction ratings are expressed in letter grades from
AA the highest - to C the
lowest. Tires with a higher grade allow a vehicle to stop in a
shorter distance on a wet road.
Tires with a higher treadwear rating should last longer. In
grading for treadwear, tires are ranked numerically according to
durability. The higher the number, the more durable the tire.
Tire ratings can be found on NHTSA's web site at http://www.safercar.gov/tires/pages/tireratings.cfm.
Here consumers can view ratings for tires used on passenger cars,
minivans, sport utility vehicles and light pickup trucks.
Under federal regulation, ratings also must be molded into the
outer sidewall of all passenger tires.