6 Things You Should Know About Your Tyre Tread

One of the most important vehicle checks is the tyre tread depth. New tyres begin their long life on the road with 8 mm of tread. While the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6 mm, most motoring authorities recommend that you change your tyres at 3 mm. Aside from the legal tread depth, what other important things should you keep in mind? 

What Causes Tyres To Wear?

While the normal lifespan of a good quality tyre is between three to five years, there are several factors that can cause premature tyre wear. Some of the most common ones include the following:

  • Incorrect tyre pressure – driving on overinflated or underinflated tyres cause uneven tyre tread
  • Poor driving habits or styles can quickly lead to tyre damage
  • Overloading your vehicle can cause tyres to overheat and increases the risk of an accident
  • Improper wheel alignment and balancing will lead to uneven tyre wear
  • Problems with the suspension
  • Internal tyre fault

If you suspect that your car tyres are faulty in any way or have uneven wear patterns, get it checked immediately. Elite Garages offer a free tyre check while you wait and it usually takes about an hour. Our expert technicians will make sure the pressure and tyre tread depth are at the recommended levels. They will also check for any signs of damage or underlying issues. Not sure where the nearest Elite Garages is? Here’s a closer look at where you can find us.

What Is The Recommended Tyre Tread?

As briefly mentioned earlier, the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6 mm but many tyre and safety experts believe it is not enough to guarantee safety. Most experts recommend that the minimum tread depth for replacing tyres is 3 mm.

Worn tyres are especially hazardous when driving in wet conditions as the tyre’s tread helps disperse water away from the contact area between the tyre and the road surface. The math is really simple – the less tread depth, the less water is shifted. This can easily result in drivers losing control due to a lack of sufficient grip. It gets even worse in heavy rain as each tyre can shift one gallon of water every second. This just illustrates how hard tyres work so the deeper the tread, the better their performance.

Interestingly, independent research at MIRA has shown that tyres with 3 mm of tyre tread performs on average, 25% better than those with 1.6 mm. To give you an idea of what exactly that means – it indicates an extra 8 metres of stopping distance in wet conditions! Fact is, the difference in wet braking distance between tyres worn to 3 mm and 1.6 mm can be as much as 44%. That can be lifesaving in so many instances.

Why Is Tyre Tread So Important?

Driving on worn tyres means that the only contact area between your car and the road is rather limited. This could, in no uncertain terms, result in costly wheel damage or worse, a fatal accident. Remember, tyre tread is designed to keep your tyres in constant contact with the road. When your tyres wear out, their ability to grip the road effectively decreases significantly. It also means longer stopping distances and the risk of aquaplaning just gets higher.

How To Check Your Tyre Tread

While professional tyre centres can help with all your tyre needs, it’s important to know what you can check yourself. Always check your tyres in a few different locations around the entire circumference for a more accurate result. When you inspect your tyres, don’t forget about the spare. You don’t want to be left stranded on the side of the road with a flat or damaged spare tyre.

One of the easiest ways to check tyre tread is using a tread depth gauge as it measures the inside and outside of your tread. If you don’t have one, they aren’t too expensive to buy and available at many auto centres.

You may not know this but tyre manufacturers add tread wear indicators that are moulded into the tread grooves. It’s a way to indicate whether a tyre is worn beyond the minimum safety limit. They are really easy to use – if you can see them, you need to replace your tyres. The marks on the tyre’s sidewall will help you find them.

Lastly, you can do the 20p coin test. Simply insert a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre and if you can’t see the outer band, your tyre tread is above the legal limit. If you can see the outer band of the coin, a tyre replacement is likely.

What Happens When Driving On Worn Tyres?

Worn tyres are not only a serious safety risk but costly as well. In the UK alone, driving on worn tyres could set you back £2,500 in fines plus three points on your licence. What makes it more serious is that you could potentially lose your licence and face a £10,000 fine if all your tyre tread is below the legal limit. Checking your tyre tread and overall tyre condition is incredibly important and should be done at least monthly.

Worn Tyres And Insurance

Driving on tyres with a tread level below the legal limit is clearly dangerous, not only for you but your occupants and other road users. If you are in an accident and your tyre tread is below the legal depth, any subsequent insurance claim could be invalidated. This means that your insurance company may very well refuse to pay for repairs to your vehicle or an injury claim.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution especially when it comes to road safety. Be sure that you check your tyres regularly, not only the tread depth but also punctures or other visible signs of damage.

Free Tyre Checks At Elite Garages

Have you checked your tyre tread lately? Tyre safety is paramount to you, your passengers and other road users. Don’t wait until your MOT to check your tread depth, do it now or visit any of our branches for a FREE Tyre Check. Simply fill in the form and get down to the nearest Elite branch.

Elite Garages provide quality services you’d come to expect from a dealership with greater value and no hidden costs. We perform expert car maintenance from full servicing of all makes and models, tyres, batteries, MOT’s and more. If you’re ever in doubt about our commitment to you, remember the ‘Elite Price Promise’.

“If you find a genuine printed cheaper price for the same product which is in stock we will meet or beat this price at time of purchase.”

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