tires in front of orange traffic cones

Tire Tread and Stopping Distance

Although a properly maintained braking system is important, your tires play a crucial role when it comes to stopping your vehicle.

When your tires are in contact with the road, they create friction which directly affects the handling and stopping capabilities of your vehicle. The amount of friction created can vary between different types of roads, weather conditions, and the amount of tread remaining on your tires. Most passenger car tires begin with 9 or 10/32nds of usable tread; light truck tires and winter tires may have more. This amount of tread is especially important on wet roads, as illustrated below.

Stopping distance per remaining tire tread depth

As you drive, friction and road wear slowly eat away at the tread and reduce the depth. Without a minimum amount of safe tread depth, your tires lose the ability to properly slow and stop your vehicle, especially when driving on wet surfaces, snow or in other unfavorable road conditions.

Released in 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) study “Tire-Related Factors in the Pre-Crash Phase” shows the direct correlation of low tread depth and an increased likelihood of being involved in an accident.

Tire performance capabilities decrease significantly once the tread depth drops to 4/32nds of an inch; tires at this tread depth are unsuitable for wet or snowy conditions. Discount Tire and industry standards recommend replacing tires worn to 4/32nds and below.

At 2/32nds, your tires present a severe safety risk, as their stopping distance and wet/snow traction are significantly decreased. Tires with this little tread are considered legally bald in some states. As they must be replaced, we will not service tires worn to 2/32nds and below.

Being that tread depth plays such a pivotal role in safety and stopping distance, it is important to measure and know how much tread remains on your tires before you travel. There are several ways to evaluate the amount of tread remaining on your tires. Learn more about how to check your tire’s tread depth.

Of course, you can always consult an expert at your local Discount Tire. We will check your tread for you free of charge.

*The Michelin Premier tire lines do not follow the stopping distance portion of the above image as they are designed with technology for like-new performance to 2/32nds of an inch.

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