However, in spite of the legal minimums, drivers expecting to experience rain-soaked roads should consider replacing their tires when they reach 4/32" of remaining tread depth. Our tests have shown that shallow treads both reduce wet braking traction and increase stopping distances.
Driving on snow and ice-covered roads is another story. Consider replacing tires when they reach approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth to maintain good traction capabilities. All tires need more tread depth in wintry conditions to compress snow and release sit as they rotate. If there isn't sufficient tread depth, the slush and snow that can be processed on each tire revolution will be reduced and the vehicle's traction in snow and slush will be reduced.
|New Tire Tread Depth||Approaching Winter |
|Approaching Tread |
|Combines tread design, compound and full depth to provide effective snow traction||When worn to about 6/32", its ability to provide beneficial snow traction diminishes||While still legal at 2/32", the tire has worn well past where it provides beneficial snow traction|
Fortunately, winter tires are typically molded with deeper tread depths than summer or all-season tires. Many also feature Winter Wear Indicators (also called Snow Platforms) to identify tread depths that are suitable for snow performance. While Winter Wear Indicators are not intended to be a sign the tire is legally worn out, they signify that snow traction has passed the point of diminishing returns and has worn to approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth.
Not many all-season tires have Winter Wear Indicators molded into their tread designs, but their winter traction will also pass the point of diminishing returns when their treads wear down to approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth. Tire Rack recommends that they be replaced as well.
Too little is never enough!