Tire Tread and Weather: What you Need to Know

As weather conditions and seasons factor into your footwear selection, they also factor into your tire selection. The proper tires in the proper condition are essential for steering, braking, and vehicle handling. With the huge impact tires have on your vehicle’s overall safety, it’s important to understand tire tread depths.

Read on or watch our Service Advisor, Megan, demonstrate tire tread options and services we offer at Downeast Toyota Scion.

Most state laws require tires to have a tread depth of at least 2/32 of an inch, but in snowy and slushy conditions 4/32” tread or more is necessary for good traction. It is important to understand that dry traction and handling will improve as a tire wears, but its ability to perform in rain and snow will diminish. At 2/32” of remaining tread depth, resistance to hydroplaning in the rain at highway speeds has been significantly reduced and traction in heavy snow has been virtually eliminated.

If rain and wet roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 4/32” of remaining tread depth. Since water can’t be compressed, you need enough tread depth to allow it to escape through the tire grooves. If the water can’t escape fast enough, your vehicle’s tires will be forced to hydroplane (float) on top of the water, and lose traction.

If snow covered roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 6/32” of remaining tread depth to maintain good mobility. You need more tread depth in snow because your tires must compress the snow in the tread grooves and release it as they roll. If there isn’t enough tread depth, the “bites” of snow your tires can take on each revolution will be so small that your traction will be reduced. Because tread depth is an important element for snow traction, winter tires start with deeper tread depths than standard all-season or summer tires.