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Tire tread – what is its importance and influence on driving

Every driver who sits behind the wheel of a car or motorcycle must sooner or later face an issue such as tire tread. Bearing in mind how important the good condition of tires is in the context of road safety, we decided to bring this topic a bit closer. What is tire tread? How to measure tread depth cheaply and precisely? What exactly are directional tires and how should they be used? Can different types of tires be identified by their tread pattern? We will try to answer all these questions below.

Where is the tread on winter tires located?

The tread on winter tires is in almost the same place as the tread on summer tires. Bearing in mind that it is simply the outer part of the tire that is in direct contact with the road, it is easy to understand that the difference is primarily in the relief. The more grooves there are and the deeper they are, the better the tire should disperse water, mud, or snow. On dry asphalt roads, smaller and fewer depressions are able to provide better grip. Regularly measuring the tread depth allows you to minimize the risk of being fined for driving on “bald” tires. It is worth emphasizing here that old and worn tires are much less safe, because worn grooves are able to significantly extend the braking distance and worsen grip on any type of surface. Due to the fact that during the natural use of tires, the rubber wears off in contact with the road surface, it is worth taking a moment to choose the right type of tires. Tires that do not match the season or road surface wear out much faster, regardless of the class or technological solutions used by the manufacturer.

How to check how deep the tread on summer tires is?

Precise measurement of the tread depth on summer and winter tires can be done most easily with a gauge resembling a construction caliper. Despite the almost identical functionality and precision, the price of solutions available on the market ranges from a few to several dozen zlotys. Instead of overpaying for a more expensive digital meter, just invest in the simplest variant. It is also worth bearing in mind that tread depth can be checked in many other less conventional ways. One of the most common solutions among Polish drivers is a patent for a five-zloty coin. In the light of the regulations, the tread depth in the tire must not be less than 1.6 mm. If, after placing a coin in the groove (e.g. 5 zlotys or 2 euros), the outer ring protrudes against the tread plane, it is better not to wait too long with replacing the tires with new ones.

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How to distinguish the tread on summer tires from the winter variant?

Summer road tires can be recognized primarily by the relatively small depth of the grooves, whose main task is to drain water. It should be remembered here, however, that off-road variants of summer tires will look a bit different. Off-road tires for SUVs and Crossovers will stand out for their wide and deep grooves and more massive blocks. It is also worth mentioning the extremely popular all-season tires in recent years, which are usually characterized by an intermediate tread. The tread on winter tires is easiest to recognize on the example of directional tyres.

How to easily recognize the tread of a directional tire?

They can be identified by the V- or U-shaped pattern of the tire tread or by the arrow on the sidewall, which always indicates the direction of rolling. Due to their specific construction, directional tires provide very good performance on wet and dry surfaces. Since they must be installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, they will not be interchangeable if they wear unevenly. This can happen if only one side (e.g. left front, right rear, etc.) breaks down in a car that is equipped with an independent suspension system. It is worth noting here that, if necessary, directional tires for SUVs, Crossovers and compact cars can be easily and effectively sealed with the handy and completely biodegradable Aircom microfiber sealant.

Can the tire tread be regenerated?

Regeneration of car tires in a professional vulcanizing workshop is a great way to extend the life of tires (check how to extend the life of tires). By definition, this solution is much cheaper than buying a new set of tires, but it is worth bearing in mind that regenerated tires will not be as good as brand new ones. Also called retreading, regeneration can be hot or cold. Heat-regenerated tires, after applying additional layers of rubber, are imprinted with a heated mold to give them the appropriate sculpture. Cold regeneration consists in gluing a ready-made and factory-made tread to a properly prepared carcass.

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