Although a properly maintained braking system is important, your tires play a crucial role when it comes to stopping your vehicle.
When your tires are in contact with the road, they create friction which directly affects the handling and stopping capabilities of your vehicle. The amount of friction created can vary between different types of roads, weather conditions, and the amount of tread remaining on your tires. Most passenger car tires begin with 9 or 10/32nds of usable tread. Light truck tires and snow tires may have more. As you drive, friction and road wear slowly eat away at the tread and reduce the depth. With less tread depth, your tires lose the ability to perform at an optimum level. Performance on wet surfaces and snow, stopping distance, and ride quality all suffer as a result of reduced tread depth.
Tire performance capabilities decrease significantly once the tread depth drops to 4/32nds of an inch. Tires at or below this tread depth are unsuitable for wet or snowy conditions, so we recommend replacing them at this time. Tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. At 2/32nds, your tires are considered legally bald in some states and must be replaced. These tires present a severe safety risk, as their stopping distance and wet/snow traction are significantly decreased.
Being that tread depth plays such a pivotal role in safety and stopping distance, it is important to measure and know how much tread remains on your tires before you travel. There are several ways to evaluate your tread depth.
Learn more about How to Check Your Tread Depth.