2. How to check tread depth with tire tread wear bars or indicators
Some tires have built-in tread wear indicators. These raised bars—often six—are moulded into the grooves of the tire tread to mark the minimum allowable tread depth. If these indicators are worn, replace your tires right away.
3. How to check tread depth with a tire tread depth gauge
Tire tread depth gauges are a fast and easy way to determine with certainty if your tires are still safe for use or if they need to be replaced. Tire tread depth gauges are available at many gas stations, and some drivers like to keep one in the glove compartment for easy access.
- Find the shallowest groove of the tread and insert the pin of the gauge until the base is flush with the tire.
- Read the scale. Here’s what you might see, and what you should do:
Tread depth what to do
- 6/32” Your tire’s tread depth is sufficient for 3-seasons but nearing minimum for a winter tire.
- 5/32” If wet roads are a concern, consider replacing your tires.
- 4/32” – 3/32” Seriously consider replacing your tires as soon as possible. If it’s a winter tire, 4/32” is the minimum.
- 2/32” Your tires are legally bald and need to be replaced.
According to most manufacturers, and even the law in most provinces, your tires should be replaced when the tread depth reaches 4/32” in the winter and 2/32″ in the summer. If your tread depth wears to those levels, your tires are considered bald and a safety hazard.
Why you need tires with sufficient tread depth
Tires at or above the recommended tread depth level can give you better traction, reduced risk of punctures and the ability to push away water to help you avoid hydroplaning on wet roads.
While you’re checking tread depth on your tires, be sure to also check your tire pressure and look for signs of unusual wear as well as signs of damage and aging, such as cracks, bulges or abrasions.