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Understanding Tyre Tread Wear Indicators

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Understanding Tyre Tread Wear Indicators

With the hot spell over, the erratic weather conditions that we’ve been experiencing lately is starting to swing to the other extreme, with heavy rain and flash floods expected to continue in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia until the end of this month.

Under such wet driving conditions, it is imperative for motorists to ensure that their tyres are in optimal condition.

Every tyre has a tread wear indicator designed into its grooves. As the tyre wears down, the gap between the tread wear indicator and the top of the tread gets smaller. When tread wears down to the point where it’s flat with the indicator, the tyre has gone past its legal limits.

Make it a habit to inspect your tyres regularly – e.g. when you wash your car.

Up until this point, most drivers are getting it right.

The common mistake made by most drivers is that many assumed that as long as the tread has not worn down to the level of the indicators, the tyre is still safe.

While a tyre might still be within legal limits, braking performance however is significantly compromised once the tread depth drops below 40 percent (about 3 mm). In fact, braking performance will begin to taper off once the tread depth drops below 60 percent, as demonstrated in the video below.

Personally, I am quite particular about my tyres and make a mental note to replace them once the tread depth passes the halfway mark. That way, it buys be some time because by the time I am done shopping around for a good set of replacement, they would’ve been worn down to 40 percent, right at the limit of compromise that I am willing to tolerate.

While the tread wear indicator (set at 1.6 mm) is there to fulfil legal requirements, Bridgestone recommends that rather than replacing your tyres based on the indicator, drivers should replace their tyres once the tread depth drops below 3 mm.

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