Tires make a huge difference in the way the vehicle handles. Worn-out tires have less grip in turns and on wet surfaces, which means the vehicle is more likely to slide or hydroplane in the rain. The braking distance increases too. All-wheel drive and vehicle stability control systems become less effective when tires are bald.
The tire tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. The new tires have from 9/32″ to 11/32″ of the tread material. The tire is considered unsafe when the tread is worn down to 2/32″ (1.5 mm). For example, the tire of the red car in the photo above is worn down beyond the safe limit. Should you wait until your tires become unsafe or replace them earlier? In our experience, you will start noticing slipping on wet or slick roads when your tires are worn down to about 4/32″ (3.2 mm). It’s at this point you should start looking for new tires.
For winter tires, change them even earlier. With 4/32″ of the tread remaining, winter tires are pretty much useless in snowy or icy conditions.
When you take your car for an oil change, the mechanic working on your car will check your tires and measure the tire tread depth. You can usually see it marked on the vehicle inspection report. We recommend taking your car to a reputable auto repair shop or dealer. It’s easier to check tires, brakes and other components important for safety when your car is lifted on the hoist as opposed to a drive-through oil change service.