Welcome to the All Pro Servicenter automotive blog. Today, let’s talk about the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When talking about stopping power, most Ankeny and West Des Moines drivers tend to focus on our brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Safe West Des Moines drivers need to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.
Let’s focus on stopping in wet West Des Moines 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.
That’s called hydroplaning. If it’s really bad, West Des Moines drivers can actually spin out of control – endangering themselves and the other drivers around them. At best, you won’t stop as fast.
So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your sedan tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.
And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new All Pro Servicenter 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 your sedan on wet West Des Moines roads.
So that’s why it’s so important for Iowa car owners to replace their sedan tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.
By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely bald sedan tire.
At All Pro Servicenter, we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet West Des Moines expressway. A safe stop from Iowa expressway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.
There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 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 sedan tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Many West Des Moines car owners have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head – the old method. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, sedan tires are a major purchase. Most of us in West Des Moines want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.