Why Do Tires Have Treads? (All You Need To Know)

When buying tires, there are some key factors that you need to check for your car to perform optimally and safely when driving.

One of these features is the tire treads, which affect how the car moves, brakes, and accelerates. But, what’s the importance of treads? Here’s all you need to know.

Why Do Tires Have Treads?

Tires have treads to boost the tire’s ability to accelerate, brake, grip the road and maximize fuel economy. Much like how shoes have grooves on their soles for grip, tires have treads to help in wet, snowy, uneven, and rough terrain in the same way. When tire treads become worn, the traction of the tires decrease, which may need to be replaced.

To learn more about tire treads, their importance, the different types, and how to measure the tread depth, keep on reading!

What Is The Work Of Tire Treads?

Are tread tires necessary? This is a common question, especially since racing vehicles such as F1 cars have grip, yet they use slicks, which are tires with no treads.

However, treads are an essential part of the standard vehicle because they help people drive comfortably and safely.

Unlike race cars, regular cars have tires with treads to keep the car stable in different road conditions, especially in rough terrain.

Treads come with different knobs, grooves, and patterns that serve a purpose in ensuring that your tire performs well.

With the right treads, your car can accelerate, brake, corner, grip the road and maximize fuel economy.

Because of this, the treads need to be monitored carefully to avoid wear out, which can be risky for your tires.

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What Are The Elements Of The Tire Tread?

What Are The Elements Of The Tire Tread?

Tire treads have different elements that boost the performance of the tires in different ways. These include tread blocks, tread grooves, tread voids, wear bar, rain grooves, and siping.

Tread voids or grooves are the areas between the tread blocks which play a key role in providing the tire with traction by enabling the tread blocks to move and flex as the tires to grip the road.

Additionally, these voids allow the water to escape when roadways are wet. If your tires have a high tread-to-void ratio, they will have better wet traction and braking ability.

While the tread extends through the entire surface of the tire, the tread blocks are the raised rubber segments that make contact with the road surface;

What Are The Different Types Of Tire Treads?

If you observe different tires, you’ll notice that the tread patterns are usually different. Tire manufacturers develop these varying patterns to address specific driving needs. Here are the most common patterns.

Symmetrical Tire Tread Pattern

Tires with this pattern are pretty common because they are mostly used on passenger car tires, not high-performance ones.

Their design has continuous ribs or independent tread blocks across the entire tread, and both sides have the same pattern.

Tires with this pattern deliver smooth driving, low rolling resistance, and high directional stability.

Directional Tire Tread Pattern

Commonly found in all-season and winter tires, this pattern provides extra traction to handle driving on mud and snow.

Tire manufacturers use this design on tires that roll forward in one direction only.

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If you look at the pattern, the lateral grooves meet at the middle of the tire tread in the shape of an arrowhead. According to tire experts, this arrow also shows the direction in which the tire should be rotated.

Asymmetrical Tire Tread Pattern

Popularly used on ultra-high performance vehicles, tires with this pattern have two different designs, one on the inner half and the other on the outer side.

The outer part has rigid tread blocks that provide a high grip when cornering and driving on dry surfaces. In contrast, the inner tire tread is responsible for protection against aquaplaning and water displacement.

How Important Is Tread Depth?

What Are The Different Types Of Tire Treads?

Legally, the minimum tire tread depth is at least 1.6mm; otherwise, you’ll need to replace the tires immediately.

To avoid getting into legal trouble, you should constantly check your tread depth to ensure it doesn’t go past this measurement.

You can use the penny test to confirm whether the depth is at least more than 2/32 of an inch (approximately 1.6mm).

If the depth is below that, it’s time to replace your tires before they lose all the grip and traction, which is also risky for your driving safety.

When your tread is worn out and shallow, you are more prone to skidding, especially when the road is wet or covered in snow.

Additionally, if you mostly drive off-road in muddy and sandy conditions, your tires will get stuck because the grooves are not deep enough.

You can check the tread at home or have a professional mechanic check them.

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To know more about tires, you can also read our posts on whether or not penny tests for tread tires are accurate, if plugging a tire is safe, and if you can replace run-flat tires with regular tires.


Tire treads are a critical part of your car, especially in maintaining tire performance and safety on the road.

Tire manufacturers design the tires with different patterns that can handle varying road conditions comfortably.

As a car owner, you need to constantly check the treads by measuring the tread depth to confirm that they are still within the legal limits. Additionally, this will help you know if the tires are still safe to use, especially if you drive on snow or muddy terrain.

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