How to check your tyre tread depth

Checking your tyres can be confusing, but we're here to help.

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Your tyres are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road, so it’s very important to ensure they're performing optimally. They’re made to be tough and durable, but they will of course start to wear over time due to the friction with the road. If you ignore them for too long, they could wear to a level of tread which is illegal and more importantly a safety risk to you and your passengers. Our guide will provide an insight into what affects tyre tread levels, as well as how to check them yourself.

Tyre tread depth

The little grooves and ridges that run along the circumference of a tyre’s rubber are what make up a tyre tread. These grooves and ridges are essential to the performance of a tyre, as they offer grip to the road surface when accelerating, braking, or manoeuvring. As a tyre’s tread begins to decrease, so does its performance – meaning the risk of greater stopping distances and reduced control of the vehicle.

Tyre tread is also imperative when driving in wet weather, as the grooves allow water to travel through the tyre and displace behind while the tyre maintains grip with the road. If your tyre tread depth is low, there is a risk that there won’t be enough tread to displace the water which can cause aquaplaning.

Causes of tyre wear

Common causes of tyre tread deterioration include:

  • Driving style
  • Type of vehicle
  • Quality of tyre
  • Overloading
  • Improper inflation pressure
  • Improper tyre alignment

The tread depth of a new tyre is approximately 8mm, but it’s generally considered prudent to look into replacing once the depth reaches 3mm.

How to check tyre tread depth

A tyre tread depth gauge is the most accurate method of checking your tyre’s tread and is a purpose-made tool that is used across our Listers workshops. If you have one, simply insert the probe bar into the groove and then push the arms flush with the tread.

An alternative method for users without a tyre tread depth gauge is to check the tyre’s tread wear indicators (TWI). You should be able to see these evenly spaced through the main grooves in the tyre tread, allowing a visual reading to be taken. If the indicator is on-line with the tread level, then the tyre should be replaced.

If you’d like your tyres to be inspected professionally, our Listers workshops all provide complimentary Vehicle Health Checks where we can accurately measure your tyre tread, as well as the rest of tyre to check it’s safe for the road. Please get in touch below or contact your local Listers Centre to book an appointment.

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