The fact that little tread on tires does not necessarily serve safety should be clear to most drivers. The ADAC has now tested how dangerous it is.
In recent decades, cars have become much safer: seat belts, airbags and electronic stability controls are now a matter of course. But there are also other elementary factors for safety – tires make an extremely important contribution. The safest option is usually the seasonal change between summer and winter tires – all-season tires are not an option for everyone. You can do the tire change yourself, although there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, it is important to check the tire for damage before installation. And the tread depth should also be checked - an ADAC test now shows the consequences of worn tires.
Tires with little tread: Especially with aquaplaning, it becomes critical
The automobile club took another look at six tires that it had already tested in new condition – and in a worn condition. The result is clear: Although the low profile does not necessarily have a dramatic effect on forces in the longitudinal or travel direction, the situation is different when it comes to the transmission of lateral forces. When aquaplaning in corners or in wet handling, the tires offer only a fraction of their performance. The problem: In everyday life, the vehicles with the worn tires still conveyed a "fundamentally safe feeling". However, this is deceptive, because you lose control much earlier when cornering – especially in the event of sudden aquaplaning.
The ADAC has compared the performance of new tires with tires with worn tread. (Symbolic image) © YAY Images/Imago
Braking on snow: worn tires with longer braking distances
The worn tires also lost traction on snow compared to the new condition: Depending on the manufacturer, an average of 15 to 35 percent was lost. A similar result was seen when braking on snow: between 14 and 32 percent the tires performed worse here. In the event of emergency braking from 30 km/h, this would correspond to an extension of the braking distance of up to 3.5 metres or a residual speed of around 15 km/h at the point where the same tyre with complete tread depth would already stand.
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In the ADAC ranking, the performance was around two to three grades worse compared to new tires – which is why they would theoretically get grades between "sufficient" and "poor". There was only one point in which the worn tires had an advantage: the vehicle consumed less fuel. For motorists, however, the safety aspect should definitely be in the foreground.