Stopping in wet conditions
Let's focus on stopping in wet conditions. In order for a tire
to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can't move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.
To move water out of the way the tire has channels for water to flow through. Look at a tire and you'll see channels that run around and across the tire. They're designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.
The deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new tire
has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop on wet roads.
Consumer Reports and other advocate groups think that a good standard of replacing tires
when the tread is worn down to four-thirty-seconds of an inch. That's 3.2 millimeters.
When tires are worn to two-thirty-seconds of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely worn out tire - and that little bit of additional tread makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet roads. A safe stop from freeway speeds with four-thirty-seconds of an inch of tread could result in a crash with worn out tires.
There's an easy way to tell when a tire's worn to four-thirty-seconds of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline; it's time to replace your tires
. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
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