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Tire tread recommendation

The VW dealer said my tires were at 4/32 and I should consider replacement. The Tire guy laughed and said I could go for months on my current Michelin tires. Who knows about 4/32 and how soon I should buy new tires?

Well…4/32 is considered safe and 2/32 is considered worn out and dangerous. Your tires are definitely worn and you need to consider replacing them. Hydroplaning is a real possibility when your tires are worn. It’s your call.

Top of Lincoln’s head on a penny is at 2/32 and, I assume, still the standard for must rather than “should”. Thanks for the heads up on hydroplaning danger. All these years and I miss something obvious. Not sure what VW guy had in mind except maybe selling a set of tires.

Good read:

I really like having good tyres. They are a very important safety device for your car. Once they get close to the line, I replace mine as soon as it is convenient.

Even a worn out tyre will usually feel fine under normal conditions, but once you hit that deep rain puddle it is too late to change tyres.

I recommend sooner than later.

Good Luck

Your tires had about 9/32 of tread depth when new. 2/32 is the point at which a tire no longer passes inspection in many states. Your tires are nearing the end of the road for them. You have time to research and do some price shopping for new tires. On some cars with gentle driving you could get 10K miles from your remaining 2/32 of tread before reaching the “no pass” zone.

Are your tires safe? Less safe than when new, and more safe than a tire that is worn out to the 2/32 tread limit. On dry roads you are fine. The tire tread depth is most helpful in rain, and even more so in snow. Since we are heading into summer driving you should be ok, but I’d suggest slowing down to 50 to 55 mph on expressways in heavy rain.

I agree with the VW dealer. UncleTurbo perfectly described the basis behind my reasoning. You have what, perhaps $50 worth of rubber left before the tires become legally and totally unsafe? To me that’s a really cheap investment in safety. One hydroplane incident in a heavy rain will cost you far more than $50.

I follow what I preach. When my wear bars start getting easily visable between the tread I start planning to replace my tires. Your tread is the single and only thing you have keeping your car solidly connected to the road. It just isn’t worth the risk.

I want to echo both Uncle Turbo and mountainbike.
Yes, the tread is currently legal, but “legal” is not necessarily the same as “safe”.

If the car is driven very conservatively, you should be safe on dry roads, but all bets are off once you have to drive in heavy rain. A tire with only 4/32 tread remaining will hydroplane in heavy rain conditions, and your ability to stop on a wet surface–even at low speeds–is impaired.

Is it really a good trade-off between thrift and safety to defer the purchase of a new set of tires?

The tire guy doesn’t have to drive on your tires. Remember that even new tires will hydroplane given enough speed and water depth. Tire safety is a continuous scale, not an absolute. 4/32 will actually give you better traction on dry pavement than new tires, as will “bald tires” to a greater extent.

The bottom line, if you want to temp fate, the more worn your tires, the more conservative in both speed and conditions you should drive; even if they are technically legal. Road surfaces with poor drainage during rain storms can cause hydroplaning at that depth in even moderate conditions. I vote, “change em” too.

It’s a great time to start looking for tires. Determine a few tires (maybe 3) that you would put on your Passat. Then start looking for sales on them. By summer, you should have a new set of tires at an attractive price. BTW, I would look at other brands than Michelin. There are several available that are less expensive and will provide comparable service. Michelin’s are good tires, but they are expensive.

I’m surprised the tire guy said that. Apparently he’s not on comission.

While 4/32 is still legal, you’re definitely at a higher risk of hydroplaning in the rain at that point. Unless money is extremely tight for you, it would be better to replace them pretty soon.