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There is no doubt that the tyres on cars or any other vehicle are extremely important. They form a critical bond between the ground and the vehicle on which you are seated and driving.
You must, as the end user be sure that the tyres remain in good condition at all points of time. To make this possible you must regularly check your tyres and ensures that any problem is nipped in the bud.
There are many attributes that must be taken into account when checking tyres, in this article we will discuss the importance of having a tyre tread depth gauge to ensure your tyres meet the legal minimum tread depth requirement.
What Is A Tyre Depth Gauge
Put in simple words, tyre depth gauges are devices that are used to measure the depth of the grooves that form part of any tyre, whether it is for car, SUV, truck or other types of vehicles. There are different types of tyre depth gauges and therefore you must do your research and choose the right one taking into account your exact requirement. Your tyre should have the right depth as far as the grooves and treads are concerned. This is essential for keeping your tyre safe and prevents it from skidding and other such problems. They prevent accidents especially when the roads are wet and slippery.
Though are different types of tyre depth gauges, the most common ones are the dial and digital units. Digital models will typically allow you to switch between mm/inch units. Some of these units will allow you to zero the measurement. Analogue models benefit from not require a battery and they will usually come with a large easy to read dial.
You must spend time and choose the right type of gauge that measures the depth of the grooves accurately.
When we looked into the best tyre tread depth gauges we compared a number of models and came to the conclusion that the following models could make it into anyone’s toolbox.
The Laser 2962 Tyre Tread Depth Gauge is produced by a British company called Laser Tools. This Laser Tools model comes with a large easy to read dial display. It has a measurement range of 0 – 11 mm and goes up in increments of 0.1mm. The unit is easy to use and can be used a by a complete novice. You can get a reading in literally seconds.
To keep the unit clean whilst not being used your supplied with a small wallet. You may want to store the gauge in a more sturdy box since the wallet may not protect it from other items in a toolbox. We found the best price of the Laser 2962 on Amazon.
Draper Expert 39591
If your not a fan of a dial type gauge then you might be interested in a digital tyre depth tread gauge. We have picked the Draper Expert 39591.
If you have ever bought a set of tools you may have come across the Draper brand, but what you may not know is that the Draper Expert brand produces tools to meet the quality and accuracy demanded from professional trades people.
The Draper Expert 39591 comes with a large easy to read digital LCD display. You can easily change the units of measurement from mm to inches. It will measure between 0 – 25mm, a greater range then the Laser 2962 Dial model.
This unit comes with a useful zeroing button that will allow you to compare readings.
It is robust and well engineered constructed from stainless steel so should last for years. You also get a molded storage case to store the unit when not in use helping to avoid any knocks or damage that may affect it accuracy. We found the best listed price online for the Draper Expert 3951 on Amazon.
RACE X RX2931
If your after a tyre pressure gauge and a tread depth gauge then you could opt for the RACE X RX2931 model that is a 2-in-1 unit where you can use the the unit for measuring tyre pressure and tread depth.
This model comes with a large 50mm analogue dial readout that is easy to read. The gauge is well made and feels robust. To keep it safe during storage it comes with a plastic case. However it is is compact enough to be kept in the glove compartment. Get the best deals for the RACE X RX2931 on Amazon.
Tyre Tread Depth Legal Requirements
There are some clearly laid down legal requirements as far as tyre tread depth is concerned. As far as United Kingdom is concerned, it is 1.6 mm. It is the same in Europe. The depth of 1.6 mm should be across the central three-quarter as far as the tyre is concerned. This is a mandatory requirement as per the law and failure to do so will attract penalties and fines.
There are some standard requirements laid down by the tire industry and also the authorities as far as the measurement parameters are concerned. New tyres usually have a tread depth ranging from 10/32 inches to 12/32 inches. There are some off-road tyres that could have tread depths of around 15/32 inches. The above figures are for new tyres and may not be the same for usable tyres. In the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, tyres are considered bald and unfit for use when the sizes of the grooves go down to 2/32 inches. Hence, if you buy a new tyre with a size of 10/32 inches, the usable tread depth is 8/32 inches. You must therefore keep these points in mind when checking the condition of your car tyres.
Why Tyre Depth Gauges are Important
As mentioned above, having the right tyre depth gauge helps you in safe driving. The tyres are subject to lot of pressure and friction because it has to bear the weight and also the speed of the vehicle while it is on the move. When your tyre is subject to constant wear and tear, it is quite obvious that the grooves through the process of friction will lose their depth and the tyre starts becoming bald. A bald tyre obviously will not be able to grip the road properly and therefore it increases the risk of skidding and controlling the vehicle even at low speeds becomes a big challenge. The situation can get exacerbated during winter months and in wet conditions when the roads are wet and slippery.
When you are driving around with the right tyre depth, you are on the right side of the law. As mentioned above, if your tyre depth is less than 1.6 mm, you run the risk of being fined heavily and you could end up being poorer by GBP 2,500 as per the law of the land. The number of 1.6 mm is for one tyre and in case you have all the four tyres having a gauge less than 1.6 mm, you could theoretically end up paying a huge fine of GBP 10,000. Additionally, you also will end up collecting 12 penalty points, 3 for each tyre.
When you need to brake in an emergency situation, the right tread depth could make all the difference between the right stopping distance and accidents. This is because the tyres grip better and come a screeching halt, even when the roads are slippery, wet or even icy. Hence, you will be a safe driver not only for you and your co-passengers but also to other vehicles and passersby.
The risk of aquaplaning is also reduced quite significantly when you have the right tyre depth. In other words, braking becomes easier, safer and surer.
Tyre Tread Depth in Summer and Winter
The gripping power of tyres varies with seasons and therefore you must be aware of the safe depth during summer and winter. A tread depth of 6/32 inches is considered to be safe during winter. If it goes down to 5/32 inches during winter and in snowy conditions, then it might be time for you to replace the tyres. 4/32 inches is not recommended if you have to constantly drive your vehicle on wet and slippery roads. When the tyre depth gauge shows a measurement of 3/32 inches, you can be sure that you tyre is outliving its utility and it is time for you to look for a new tyre. As mentioned above when your gauge measurement shows 2/32 inches, your tyre is bald legally and also from safety perspective. It would be both dangerous and illegal to drive your car when your tyre depth gauge has gone down to 2/32 inches. You must therefore measure the depth gauge on a regular basis and it becomes all the more important when you are driving in wet, rainy, snowy and icy conditions.
There are different types of depth gauges available in the market today and they are priced accordingly. The basic ones come with a price-tag of around £6.00 and you also could get quality ones at double the price. You must always try and buy one that is of good quality, because of the critical task that it performs. You must stay away from cutting corners in buying this important gadget that could make a difference between safe driving and accidents on the road.