How do I know when my tyres are worn out?
Tyres are the only point of contact between you and the road. It, more than anything else, determins your safety when cornering and braking, especially in wet surfaces. But many drivers don’t even know when their tyres are worn out until a police officer points it out. Stop in at any motor garage and you'll see in real-life the consequences of a severely worn-out tyre and a horror story to go with it.
Badly wornout tyres are dangerous and will out you at risk when braking or cornering. Now, how do you tell if your tyres are worn out? The first thing you should do is have a quick physical examination of the entire tyre. While the average new passenger tyre has between 8-12mm of tread depending on the tyre’s size, the minimum standard is 1.5mm of tread. Less than this amount and you could actually be charges with an offence.
When you look for minimum tread, remember that this applies to the lowest level of tread you can find, not the highest. Some tyres can have irregular wear, especially if your wheel alignment or air pressure has been inaccurate. You need to gauge by the worst results you can find. Remember, it’s your life and the lives of those around you that can be ruined by tyre failure.
Measuring a tyre’s wear is a simple process. Tyre makers build a ‘tread wear indicator’ into all passenger and 4x4 tyres. This indicator is found between the ridges of the tread of the tyre, which you can clearly see in the example below:
Sometimes these little ridges can be hard to find, particularly if your car is low to the ground and has low-profile tyres. If you can’t see the face of the tyre, manufacturers also mark the sidewall of the tyre with an arrow, their logo, or another defining mark to showcase where the indicators can be found. These indicators can easily be seen in this photo:
These marks will be spaced regularly throughout the circumference of the tyre. If you look at your tyre and the tread is level at any point with these indicators, the tread is at 1.5mm or less and it’s time to replace your tyres.
Remember, if you see that your tyres are getting close to the wear indicators, it's best to replace them early. Studies have confirmed that your stopping distance increases dramatically with every millimetre of tread that wears off your tyres. So, changing your tyres before they’re totally worn-out is the brilliant choice.