What is the tread depth of a new tyre?

By Adam White

In our experience, far too many motorists never pause to inspect their tyres until they experience a flat or a blowout. The majority just rely on their annual MOT to uncover any problems with their tyre condition or tread depth. Then those tyres are replaced in a hurry, grudging the expenditure and without considering all the benefits you can get from choosing your tyres wisely.

Tread Depth

Considering that tyres are the vehicle’s sole point of contact with the road, it should be at the forefront of every driver’s mind that tyre condition, not only the tread depth, is of crucial importance to the safety of the driver, the passengers and other road users. Don’t wait until you lose control to recognise the importance of your tyres!
All vehicle owners and drivers should make a point of inspecting the tyres on their vehicles regularly, ensuring that they have adequate tread, are correctly inflated and are completely fit for purpose.

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How much tread is on a brand new tyre?

On a new tyre, tread depth is about 8mm. As this wears down it compromises the car’s ability to cope in wet conditions and degrades its grip and road handling. By law, tyre tread depth in the UK must never be less than 1.6mm at its lowest point. Many professionals believe that this is too slim a margin because tyre performance noticeably deteriorates well before they reach that point. Research has shown that a tread depth of 3mm provides 25% better performance than one at the legal limit of 1.6mm. That means it will brake to standstill 8 metres shorter in wet driving conditions. 8 metres could easily save a life.
If you drive on less than 1.6mm, the penalty is 3 points on your license and a £2,500 fine – for each faulty tyre! Nobody should ever allow their tread depth to decline below 2mm at its lowest point. Although tyre tread depth in the UK is always checked during an annual MOT, you really need to check more frequently: at least once per month is recommended. This will allow you to catch other kinds of tyre damage early – nails, embedded stones, rips, cracking, low pressure or slow leaks. Unnatural wear patterns can also warn you of impending steering, suspension or alignment problems.
Always check that your tyres are inflated to their recommended pressures. Doing that monthly is a minimum, weekly is better, especially in exceptional weather conditions.

Where can I find hard-wearing tyres?

To a degree, the ideal new tyre tread depth depends on the driving conditions you expect to encounter. Chunky tread patterns are often recommended for winter conditions or for off-road driving and those will often be deeper than average. Slicker tyres are better suited for summer driving on flat roads – they are nimbler and usually deliver better fuel economy. However, that does not mean tyres with chunky tread last longer. On the contrary, winter tyres are designed for grip and temperature tolerance so may be made of a softer compound that will wear faster on hot open roads.
Similarly, premium tyres designed for high performance vehicles deliver great braking, speed and steering control but not always the best longevity. Some do, some do not and that’s why you should always plan your next tyre set in advance – so you have time to identify the best tyre for your particular vehicle, budget and driving conditions.

Buy Tyres

Michelin has a good reputation for mileage across most of the brands in its tyre range. However, they are also one of the more expensive, so a more moderately priced brand such as Falken could give you more miles per £. Remember too that tyres age as well as wear. For that reason, it makes little sense to fit expensive hard-wearing tyres if your vehicle is only taken a few thousand miles per year. Again, Falken or Sumitomo tyres could be a more sensible purchase.
Longevity isn’t everyone’s top priority. If you love sporty performance driving, choose a premium Pirelli or Bridgestone. Just be ready to change your tyres a few miles earlier.

Protyre - the local garage you can trust

For exclusive online offers on tyres from respected manufacturers including Pirelli, Bridgestone and Michelin, look no further than Protyre! Use our quick and easy tyre search function to find the best tyres for your vehicle.
All garages in the Protyre network have a fantastic range of tyres in stock and offer a range of free checks, including a tyre check. Just click the button below to book yourself in today.

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About the author

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By Adam White
Adam looks to create engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Adam enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.
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