Bald tyres: What are they, why are they dangerous and how to spot them
Everything you need to know about tyre tread safety
When was the last time you checked the tyres on your car? If you can’t remember or don’t know what to look for, there’s a chance you could be driving with bald tyres. This puts you and others on the road at risk.
The good news: bald tyres are completely preventable and easy to identify. We’re here to answer your questions and show you how to spot this unnecessary risk on your own car.
What are bald tyres?
A tyre is considered bald when it has little to no tread left. In Australia, you are legally required to change your tyres before they get down to 1.5mm of tread depth. A new tyre usually has a tread depth of 8mm or more but this will gradually wear down with every kilometre you drive.
You must never drive with bald tyres. If you are pulled over by police while driving bald you could face on-the-spot fines and loss of demerit points. More importantly, driving with bald tyres is a dangerous business. Once your tyre tread depth gets down to 3mm your wet grip on the road may start to be impacted.
"Once your tyre tread depth gets down to 3mm your wet grip on the road may start to be impacted."
What is tread depth and what does it do?
Tread depth is the depth of the grooves on your tyres. The tread on your tyres is designed to improve traction on the road and to disperse water between your tyres and the surface of the ground in wet conditions. Adequate tread depth is crucial for safe driving, effective acceleration, smooth cornering and sufficient braking. As such, your tread depth should be checked regularly.
How do I know when my tyres are bald?
A completely bald tyre has a smooth surface and a tread depth of 1.5mm or less. If your tyres look like this, they should immediately be replaced. Tyres come equipped with tread wear indicators (TWI) which provide an easy way of spotting tyres that are bald or are going bald. The TWI is a small bar on the tyre with ‘TWI’ written next to it. When the tread is down to the same level of the TWI, your tyres are ready to be replaced.
Another quick and easy way to check your tread depth is to place an Australian 20c piece into the tyre treads in a few different places. If the tread doesn’t reach the bill on the platypus, you have less than 3mm of tread remaining.
The dangers of bald tyres
There are a number of dangers associated with driving with bald tyres but perhaps the most significant is aquaplaning on wet road surfaces. Aquaplaning is when water builds up between a vehicle’s tyres and the surface of the road beneath. This causes a loss of grip and traction on the road and loss of control by the driver.
Increased risk of tyre punctures
The grooves on a tyre provide a layer of protection from glass and sharp objects on the road. When a tyre is bald, that protection is removed meaning the tyre is more susceptible to punctures.
Loss of pressure
Bald tyres tend to lose tyre pressure more quickly. This can impact on performance and efficiency of your vehicle.
Longer braking distances
The reduced traction caused by bald tyres can significantly increase your brake time making you at a higher risk of accidents and collisions with other vehicle.
“We know the dangers of driving with bald tyres…. It’s NEVER worth the risk.”
What should I do when my tyres are bald?
If you have bald tyres, you should change them immediately. They are neither safe nor legal and put you and others at risk.
At Jax Tyres we provide a range of cheap and budget tyres so that you never have to gamble with your life or the lives of others when you’re on the road.
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The straightforward answer is “no”. A bald tyre is extremely dangerous and
A tyre is completely ‘bald’ when all the treads are worn and you have a smooth rubber surface with no grooves.
It’s illegal to drive in Australia with tyres with grooves less than 1.6mm. That’s because bald tires can have dangerous implications if they are driven on. Some of there the risks associated with bald tyres are:
- Increased risk of tyre punctures
- Loss of pressure
- Longer braking and accelerating distances
Penalties for defective tyres can vary from state to state. Generally speaking, you will receive a defect notice and a fine from the police. Failure to resolve the issue will lead to a harsher penalty. For example, in Queensland, the first offence is a $110 on the spot fine and a 1 demerit point. Three bald tyres may cost you $220 and 3 demerits.
Check with your relative motoring authority for more information on up-to-date state-specific laws.
Abnormal wear on one or more tyres suggests that your tyre has a shortened
lifespan. Your wheels are designed to share contact with the road and wear evenly.
Uneven tyre wear is usually caused by:
Wheel misalignment: Your wheels are aligned at ideal angles so that each one is lined up with the others. Misaligned wheels affect your ability to drive in a straight line, corner and for your tyres to wear evenly. If the camber setting becomes positive, the wheel tilts, putting more pressure on one tyre.
Improper Inflation: Your tyres are designed for a specific level of internal air pressure. If they are underinflated, the outside of the tyre can wear too much. If they are overinflated, the tyre has less contact with the road resulting in the centre wearing quicker. The pressure of the tyre can also cause the vehicle to bounce slightly, leading to further damage.
Worn out suspension: The suspension may have moved out of alignment when you have had an accident or hit a pothole. It connects your wheels to the frame of your car. If a part is damaged, it can increase pressure on one wheel.
Tyres have not been rotated: Different corners of your vehicle may experience different wear and tear than others. For example, the right tyre may wear slightly faster because slightly more power goes to the driver’s side.
Bald tyres can cause your steering wheel to vibrate and your car to shake. The
tyres are the only part of the car that has contact with the road, so when one or more tyres are bald, this can skew the overall balance of your vehicle.
Your bald tyre may be due to a worn-out suspension, under or over-inflated tyre or wheel misalignment.
Book your car into your local Jax Tyres for a service to change your bald tyre and/or service.
Tyres create friction as they rotate through flex between the tyre and the road. The more friction the tyre has, the higher the fuel consumption.
Worn tyres have less rolling resistance (friction with the road) than new tyres. However, with bald tyres, your tyre is likely to be unevenly worn. The engine will have to work harder to drive, increasing fuel consumption.
The legal minimum for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. However at Jax Tyres, we
recommend changing your tyre as soon as possible if your tyre tread depth has reached 3mm.
Without a good level of tread depth, you will begin to find your car difficult to brake or accelerate out of a dangerous situation, especially on slippery surfaces