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Measuring tyre tread depth

Fast facts: Ways to check tread depth

 

Fast facts: Ways to check tread depth

  • Tread wear indicators are spaced evenly through the main grooves in the tyre tread. If they are flush with the level of the tread, then the tyre must be replaced.
  • If you have a tyre tread depth gauge, insert the probe bar into the groove and push the shoulders flush with the tread. Check the top of the gauge to see the measurement.
 

Your tyres form the essential bond between your vehicle and the ground. The tread grips the road as you drive. But if it's not deep enough, your car loses traction and suffers extended braking times. Shallow tread grooves make it harder to control the vehicle in wet weather and the chance of aquaplaning increases. To ensure your safety, measure the tread depth as part of your regular vehicle maintenance.

Tread is the rubber o the tyre in contact with the road. As you drive, the tread will wear down. A tyre with a tread depth below 1.6mm lacks grip. Braking distance and vehicle control are impaired. These tyres are not safe for driving and must be replaced.

Please consider that safe driving in wet and snowy weather conditions is affected by the tread depth, the pattern design and the rubber compound of the tread of your tyres. On wet or snow-covered roads breaking performance will progressively decline with lower tread depths. On wet roads there is an additional increased risk of aquaplaning with reduced tread depths.

Therefore, check your tyres regularly, reduce your speed on wet and snowy roads and consider replacing your tyres in good time.

Ensure your vehicle is equipped with the correct winter, summer or all-season tyres. 

Tread Wear Indicators

Tread wear indicators, or wear bars, are spaced evenly through the main grooves in the tyre tread. If they are flush with the level of the tread, then the tyre should be replaced.

Several winter tyre models are equipped with winter tyre wear indicators.  If they are flush with the level of the tread, the tyre is no longer suitable for winter driving conditions. In some locations, they may also no longer legally qualify as winter tyres.


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Using a tyre tread depth gauge

If you have a tyre tread depth gauge, use it to measure the tread depth. Insert the probe bar into the groove and push the shoulders flush with the tread. Check the top of the gauge to see the measurement. Alternately, a small ruler can be used.

Instead of a tyre tread depth gauge, you can estimate the depth with a penny, quarter, or 1€ coin.

Place a 1€ coin in the groove of the tyre. If the gold border shows above the tread, it's time to consider replacement.

Be sure to check in various locations. A misaligned wheel may result in uneven tread wear. Keep an eye open for any areas that look more worn than the surrounding surface. The tyre's tread should be judged by the lowest depth you measured.

If you are uncertain of the measurements, take your vehicle to a service centre. 

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How to check your car tyre tread depth

Tyre tread depth is vital for maximum tyre performance in all conditions. We have produced this helpful how to video where motoring expert and TV presenter Jonny Smith shows how to check your car tyre tread depth. As well as tyre tread depth, watch this helpful how to video from Continental on tyre checking.

Watch for tyre damage

While measuring the tread, look for cupping, or scalloping. These are small scoops, or divots, carved from the tread. They can indicate misalignment or other problems with your vehicle. Take your car to a service centre.

Also, watch out for bulges in the tyre tread or sidewall. It could indicate internal tyre damage and your tyres may not be safe. You should have the tyre checked by a professional immediately.

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Tread depth
 

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