Back to all

Tire Tread Depth for Walled Lake, Michigan Drivers

September 21, 2022

Driving on bald tires is like playing roulette. Though you may be fine today, eventually your luck is going to run out.

The Feds don't have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider 2/32 of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider 1/32 to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Tuffy Walled Lake; (just call 248.624.4440) to find out what your requirements are in the Walled Lake, Michigan, area.

Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there's just 2/32 inch/1.6 mm of tread left. But does that older standard give Walled Lake vehicles enough safety?

Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32 inch/3.2 mm. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the issue is braking on wet surfaces.

We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but Walled Lake vehicles also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it's wet or snowy in Walled Lake, Michigan, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.

Picture this: you're driving in Walled Lake over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

This is where the studies come in. We think Walled Lake drivers will be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to submerge it. 

A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph/112 kph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32 inch/3.2 mm of tread were tested (the depth suggested by Consumer Reports.)

When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.

Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That's a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile (.16 km)  of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Walled Lake drivers follow that far behind the vehicle ahead? Obviously, this is a big safety issue.

The tests were conducted with the same vehicles but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable was the tires.

How do people in Walled Lake know when their tires are at 4/32 inch/3.2 mm? Well, it's pretty easy. Just insert an American 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.

Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But an American penny gives you 2/32 inch/1.6 mm to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32 inch/3.2 mm.

Tires are a big ticket item, and most people in Walled Lake, Michigan, want to get thousands of miles/kilometers out of them. Just remember: driving on bald tires is like playing roulette.

Have Mr. Washington look at your tires today. If he recommends a new set, come see us at Tuffy Walled Lake in Walled Lake.

Tuffy Walled Lake
784 N. Pontiac Trail
Walled Lake, Michigan 48390
248.624.4440

Need Service?

Request a Quote

More articles from Tuffy Tire & Auto Service Center Walled Lake

Light Up your Life (Headlamp Replacement)

December 4, 2022

Did you know that having a burned out headlight can result in your rearview mirror reflecting some flashing lights? In other words, you might get pulled over by the police for only having one working headlight, because in most places it's against the law. Not only is it illegal to drive with one... More

Sounds Exhausting! (Exhaust Service)

November 27, 2022

Most of us know a bad muffler when we hear it. That loud, rumbling sound is unmistakable. Did you also know you can get a ticket for driving around with a loud exhaust system? If your exhaust system has a leak in it, it may be allowing poisonous gases inside your vehicle and could make you serio... More

Keeping Your Cool (Coolant System)

November 20, 2022

No matter what the weather is like outside, your internal combustion engine expects to keep its cool all the time, even when it's really cold. That's because engines create the power that moves you to your destination by a series of tiny explosions of a fuel and air mixture. In turn, that genera... More