How to check your tyres tread depth

It’s important that you know how to check your tyres’ tread depth. After all, the tread depth affects handling and provides grip with the road surface. The deeper it is, the more grip you’ll have.

Optimal depths

A new car tyre begins life with approximately 8-9mm of tread depth. Legally, you can drive on them until they reach a minimum depth of the tread of 1.6 mm, across 75% of the tyre’s width and all around its circumference. However, 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.

Checking your tyres’ tread depth

  • First of all, check out the tread wear indicators that are built into the grooves of your tyres. These small horizontal bars are evenly spaced around the tyre’s circumference. Once your tyre has worn level with these bars, you have reached your minimum depth and your tyre will need replacing. 
  • Bear in mind though that these indicators tell you when you’ve reached 1.6mm and safe driving in wet and snowy weather might already be affected as mentioned above..
  • A more accurate measurement can be taken using tyre gauges. These come in many different forms – from laminated cards with colour indicators to digital tyre depth gauges.
  • Simply place the gauge into the tyre’s groove and you will see how close you are to reaching your minimum depth.

Tread depth facts:

  • New tyres have a tread depth of 8-9mm
  • Legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm
  • 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 and snow covered roads breaking performance will progressively decline with lower tread depths
  • Check your tyres regularly
  • Reduce your speed on wet and snowy roads
  • Consider replacing your tyres in good time
Uniroyal. A brand of Continental.