A major factor when it comes to driver safety in any vehicle has to do with the integrity of your tire treads. On dry roads, a tire can easily maintain traction thanks to the high amount of friction between the rubber tires and the paved road. Treads are a necessity when it comes to driving on wet roads at any time of year. This is because things like water, snow, ice and slush have to be moved out of the way as a rubber tire drives over the road. If too much of any of these substances comes between the rubber tire and the road, drivers can quickly lose control of their vehicle, leading to potentially dangerous driving conditions. The question then remains, how do we tell if the treads on your tires are worn to the point they need to be replaced?

Many people have cited the ‘penny test’ as a sure fire method of determining whether or not your tires need to be replaced. The concept is simple. Take a coin and hold it between the treads of your tires. If the coin is mostly covered by the protruding tire treads, the idea is that the tire is still okay to drive on. If a large amount of the coin is still visible, its a sign the tires are worn and need to be replaced. This is a helpful way to get an initial idea about the integrity of your tire treads, however it is not a universally applicable method, and may not truly indicate how worn your tires happen to be.

The tread design on tires is created with one major purpose in mind. Water needs to be moved through the treads in order to allow the greatest area of the tire to touch as much of the road as possible as you drive along. If water is unable to move through the threads, it will inhibit your tire traction and cause you to slide or hydroplane on the road. Recent studies conducted while driving around 100Km per hour put tire treads to the test. Each vehicle was driven using tires that were more worn than the next. The results of the test concluded that tires that have treads that are less than 4/32” deep have much more difficulty moving water out of the way as the car drives along. This means slower stopping ability, less handling capability and an overall ride that is less than safe. Considering these results, it is a good idea to measure the actual tread depth rather than rely on an eyeball comparison to a coin. If the treads are less than 4/32” deep, it is time to replace your tires.

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