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It seems that a consensus on tire wear is that tires should be replaced if you'll be driving on icy roads with less than 6/32" of tread, but are safe on other roads up to 4/32" (source). I'm wondering if the added safety of winter tires means that they are safe on snow for a little longer, say, to 4/32".

If the question seems too opinion-based: do winter tires with 5/32" of tread perform just as well on snow as all-season tires with 5/32" of tread perform on non-snowy roads?

  • I always plan for the max tread depth for winter tires... – Solar Mike Nov 20 '19 at 21:43
  • 6/32" = 3/16" so you are saying it is safe to drive on icy roads with less tread than on other roads? Also 4/16" = 1/4" is nearly a new tire, in the UK. (6mm of tread compared with 8mm brand new, in units the rest of the world apart from the USA can understand...) – alephzero Nov 20 '19 at 22:09
  • @alephzero My mistake: I meant 4/32, not 4/16. – Nathan Van Dyken Nov 21 '19 at 15:13
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Continental say 5/32" or 4mm- https://www.continental-tires.com/car/tire-knowledge/tire-care-maintenance/tread-depth

Some winter and all-season tyres come with an extra set of wear bars set at 5/32" or 4mm for when they're considered unsafe for snow use but they're probably still good for snow/ice-free roads right down to the normal wear bars. On snow/ice-free roads it's the difference in the rubber compound for all-season and winter tyres that gives you more grip at low temperatures.

As for whether all-season tyres are as good on snow/ice-free roads as winters are on snow, it depends on whether you're still in the optimum temperature range for all-seasons. I suspect that the advantage would come down mostly to the road surface being clear and pretty much any tyre would beat driving on snow.

  • Tread depth isn't really important for dry roads (other than the legal aspects). On dry roads, slick tyres will give the best grip. Shouldn't the comparison you are making be for wet roads? – HandyHowie Nov 21 '19 at 9:49
  • You're right, I couldn't think of a succinct term for what I meant but I've fixed that now. – squigbobble Dec 3 '19 at 23:22

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