How do Australia’s drivers know they need new tyres?

The easy way to check your tyre tread and stay safe on Brisbane’s roads

All Australian drivers understand that driving on illegal tyres puts them and other road users in danger. According to some studies, almost nine in ten Australians don’t know what the minimum tread depth is. In this article, we examine how to tell if your tread depth is too shallow, and that you need new tyres to stay safe and legal on Australia’s roads.

Legal minimums and tyre safety

The legal minimum tread depth in Australia is 1.5mm. It means that none of the treads across the entire tyre must be shallower than this. If it is, you are driving illegally. More importantly, you’re putting your life and the lives of your passengers and other road users in danger.

I’d argue that this minimum tread depth should be increased for safety reasons. Some manufacturers suggest that tyres should be changed when the depth reaches 3mm. I’d certainly argue for the minimum to be raised to 2mm. Why?

Tests have shown that below a depth of 2mm, the risk of having an accident increases dramatically. It is because traction and handling worsen. Braking distances are evidence of just how much more dangerous it is to drive on worn tyres. In the wet, and travelling at 80kph, on tyres with:

  • 8mm tread depth, a car stops in 25.9 metres
  • 3mm tread depth, a car stops in 31.7 metres
  • 6mm tread depth, a car stops in 39.5 metres

On worn tyres, it’s going to take you a lot longer to stop. If you’re a driver, who loves to tailgate, think about this for a second. How old are your tyres? How new are the tyres on the car ahead? That extra stopping distance is the equivalent of three saloon cars. If you’re closer than this and the driver in front decides to stamp on his brakes, at 80kph you are likely to hit him. And that is your fault.

So, how long do tyres last on Australia’s roads?

Australia’s roads play a big part in determining how long a tyre will last. As does your driving style. If you’re a fast driver and brake hard, your tyres will wear out faster. If you drive on dirt tracks or poorly maintained roads, the rubber is more likely to be scraped and grazed. Vehicle design also impacts tyre wear, as does weather and climate. UV rays from the sun degenerate tyre rubber. And here in Brisbane, we have a lot of sun.

It’s impossible to say how long a tyre will last in Brisbane, or anywhere for that matter. There are so many factors involved. It is why you should conduct a regular tyre check. A few minutes each week could save your life.

How do you know your tyres must be changed?

When you are checking your tyres for tread wear, remember that the minimum legal requirement is 1.5mm. If there is less tread than this anywhere on the tyre, you must change it immediately.

It includes if you notice a bald patch, uneven wear, or wear on the inner or outer edges of the tyre. Any of these symptoms indicate that you may have a dangerous issue with the set-up of your vehicle. Most commonly this will be wheel balancing or wheel alignment. If this is the case, bring your vehicle to Darra Tyres, and we’ll run the necessary checks to make sure you are driving a safe vehicle and not a death trap.

Other signs of excessive wear or dangerous damage include:

  • Wear down to the tread bar indicators. You should change tyres before this point.
  • Sidewall damage, such as bubbling, chips and grazes. If you notice this type of damage, change your tyre immediately. Your risks of a blowout when travelling at speed are greatly increased when sidewall damage is present.

Good parallel parking technique will help to avoid tyre damage.

When did you last check your tread depth?

If you’re like most Australian drivers, it has probably been months since you last checked your tyres’ tread depth. Go and check them now:

  • Check the tread bar indicators on the tyre.
  • Use a tread depth indicator.
  • Use a 10 cent coin. Place it in the tyre grooves. If the outer band of the coin is obscured, tread depth is above the legal minimum.

When should you change your tyres?

There are several reasons you may need to change your tyres. These include sidewall damage. Many manufacturers recommend changing tyres when they are five years old, irrespective of use and wear.

Although the legal minimum tread is 1.5mm, you should consider changing them if the depth is worn to 3mm. If you are not sure whether your tyres are safe, or need any tyre advice, contact us today. Our mission is simple:

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.