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How to check your tyre treads

A tyre professional carrying out an inspection – check your tread depth regularly

How to check your tyre treads

You can learn a lot about the overall condition and performance of your vehicle from regular checks of your tyre treads. Excessive or uneven tread wear can be a sign of potential problems that may need a professional solution. You should thoroughly inspect your tyres on a monthly basis, as well as before and after long journeys.

Can you see tread wear indicators? These are bars of hard rubber that only become visible when your tread has worn below a certain level. If you can see them, it is time to invest in a new set of tyres. Sava tyres also feature a mark on the sidewall to point out the location of your tread wear bars. [link to ‘How to read a sidewall’]

Have you checked your tread depth? Another way to check your tread wear is with a special tread depth gauge, which can be purchased inexpensively at garages or auto supply stores. Remember that under European law your treads must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm, while for winter tyres a tread depth of not less than 4mm is advisable. Ensure to take measurements on both the inside and outside of your treads.

Is there anything stuck in the tread? Stones, chips and other small pieces of road debris frequently become lodged in tyre treads and can cause punctures. Inspect your tread grooves for foreign objects and remove them carefully if found.

Are your tyres worn on the outside? Excessive wear on the tread edges can indicate that your tyres are not correctly inflated. Check your tyre pressure regularly [link] as driving on under-inflated tyres shortens their life and results in higher fuel consumption. If your tyres need frequent inflation you may need to have them checked for leaks. Worn edges on the front tyres only may be an indicator that you are cornering too quickly, so consider your driving habits if you wish to maximize tyre life.

Are your tyres worn in the center? Excessive wear in the centre of the tread could be a sign of over-inflation, which can increase the risk of a blowout. Check your car’s manual to find the recommended pressure level and deflate if necessary.

Is one tyre worn more than the others? Uneven wear across a single tyre can be a sign that your wheels need to be balanced or aligned. Look for uneven wear patches or bald spots, which can also be a sign of problems with your suspension. Talk to a professional if you suspect issues such as these.

Are your tyres wearing out at different rates? tyres won’t wear out at the same rate. Your front tyres do more work and bear the weight of the engine, so they will wear quicker than those on the rear axle. If you think they are wearing quicker than they should, it could be time to have your shocks inspected by a professional. Uneven wear across the tyre footprint – tyres on one side of the car wearing quicker than those on the other – could mean that they need aligning.

Is there excessive wear on tyre edges? A saw-toothed or feathered appearance around the tyre edges is usually caused by the tyres making uneven contact with the road surface. Again, you may need to have your tyres aligned if you spot this wear pattern.