Alexandra Tyrepower
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Tread Wear Indicators

Time and time again we’ve made a point that tyres need to be checked for wear, and we’ve recommended tools to enable quick and easy measurement of how much tread you have remaining.

But did you know that most tyres have features built right into the tyre that allows you to visually gauge how much tread you have remaining?

What Makes Tyres Wear Out

Tyres grip the road through two primary methods, adhesion and hysteresis. Taking a deep dive into these is beyond the scope of this article. Still, the takeaway is that every time a portion of the tyre touches the road and is pulled away from the road surface, the rubber will try and pull away from the tyre, being caught in all the surface imperfections of the road molecules at a time.

Types Of Tread Wear Indicators

Most of the time, the tread depth indicators are simple bumps in the tread voids that mark the 1.5mm depth mark.

Close-up image of tread wear indicators

Locating this style of tread wear indicator can be done by finding a marking on the tire sidewall, where usually there will be some kind of small symbol or indicator letting you know where to find the tread wear features.

Some brands feature alternative tread wear designs, with Goodyear having a number system with fractions of an inch remaining (picture from Goodyear Australia).

Goodyear tread wear indicator

General Tire (yes, with an ‘i’), has several patterns with ‘Replacement Tire Monitor’ marked into the tread. Their ‘RTM’ technology can be found on the Altimax One and One S tyres and after a while, as the tread wears, you end up with a message on the tread saying ‘Replace Tire’. How handy is that?

General Tire ‘Replacement Tire Monitor’

Measure Tread Depth With Tools

Using the tread wear indicators is good since you don’t need anything other than your tyre, but if you need an exact figure for how much tread you have left, you can get by with a cheap tread depth gauge or a ruler where the graduations go right to the end of the ruler.

Specialty gauges can be purchased from most auto-parts stores and many also include tyre pressure gauges for a cheap and compact tool that can be left in the glove compartment.

Replacing Worn Tyres

In Australia, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm. You’ve probably seen instances where the figure of 1.6mm is quoted, and that’s because 2/32” (the minimum tread depth in many countries using standard measurements) equals 1.58mm and many people just round up.

While the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm, you’ll want to replace them before they get that low, especially if you find yourself driving in the rain often. At tread depths less than around 3mm (depending on the vehicle and tyre) the chance of aquaplaning drastically increases, just because the tyre can not shift enough water out of the way.

Get New Tyres

Contact your local Tyrepower today to book your vehicle in for a free tyre inspection and talk to us about what sort of tyres you should put on your vehicle.

Tyrepower is the largest network of independent tyre retailers in Australia, and with a huge range of tyres in stock at all locations, we’ll have something to suit you!

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