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How Tire Tread Depth Can Affect Stopping Distance

Mercedes-Benz Original Tires offer exceptional performance for Chicagoland drivers, but they still experience decreasing tire tread depth over time. This natural wear can impact your vehicle’s ability to stop efficiently when you hit the brakes. Keeping up with needed Mercedes-Benz tire maintenance not only helps maintain your vehicle’s performance and handling, but it also helps your vehicle stop when sudden braking is required. Wondering how your vehicle’s tire tread depth plays a part in your vehicle’s stopping distance? Learn how to calculate stopping distance for your vehicle and the impact of tire tread depth with Mercedes-Benz of Chicago!

What is Tire Tread Depth?

MaintenanceYou may have heard that tire tread depth is important, but what is tire tread depth? Tire tread depth refers to the measurement between your tires’ deepest grooves to the top of the tread rubber. Since 1968, the minimum recommendation for tread depth is 2/32 of an inch for safe driving.

What is Reaction Distance?

Reaction distance refers to the distance your vehicle travels from the moment you realize you need to stop to the moment you actually start braking. Most drivers have a reaction time that falls between 0.5 to 2 seconds, but this time can be impacted due to multiple factors like: 

  • Vehicle speed
  • Fatigue
  • Anticipation of the need to stop
  • Medications or alcohol

What is Braking Distance?

The distance traveled from the time you apply the brakes to the time your vehicle comes to a total stop is known as braking distance. Braking distance can vary depending on: 

  • Vehicle speed
  • Your vehicle’s load
  • Tire tread depth and condition
  • Road gradient and conditions 
  • Braking condition and technology

How to Calculate Stopping Distance for Yourself

Braking distance and reaction distance both play a part in calculating your vehicle’s stopping distance. Use the following formula, you can get a solid estimate of your vehicle’s stopping distance:

  1. Start with the first digit of the speed your vehicle is traveling and square it. Take that result, add a zero, and then divide by 2.
  2. Then double your speed. Add that number to the previous result, and you’ll have your distance in feet.

As an example, let’s say you’re driving at 50 mph. To calculate your stopping distance, you would take the first digit of your speed (5) and square it to get 25. Next, you’d add zero to the end to get 250. Divide this total by two to get 125. Now, you double your speed of 50 mph (which makes 100 mph) and add that to your previous sum of 125. When it’s all said and done, you’re left with a stopping distance of 225 feet!

Impact of Tire Tread Depth on Stopping Distance

Tire treads are tasked with the job of moving mud, snow, and debris. The use of these treads allows more of your tire to stay connected to the road while you’re driving, which increases both traction and control. This remains especially important during challenging weather and rough road conditions. While the standard minimum recommendations have long been held at 2/32 of an inch, there’s new evidence to support replacing your tires sooner. 

TireRack conducted a study using two sedans traveling at 70 mph. The sedan with 2/32 of an inch of tire tread depth took an additional 88.8 feet and 1.2 seconds longer to stop compared to the sedan with tire treads at 4/32 of an inch. In an emergency stop, every second counts and every inch matters. With this latest information in mind, it may be worth talking with our tire center about replacing your tires sooner. 

Find Tire Service & Replacements at Mercedes-Benz of Chicago!

Now you know how to calculate stopping distance, but are you aware of your current tire tread depth and condition? If you need help assessing your tires, or if you want to discuss tire replacements or repairs, reach out to Mercedes-Benz of Chicago today!

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