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Tyre reaching its wear indicator signifying a time for replacement

Tyre/Tread Wear Indicator - What Is It? How To Read It?

Do you know what those small, raised bars between the grooves of your car’s tyres are for?

These are not just random markings; they are tyre wear indicators that can help you gauge the condition of your tyres accurately so you know exactly when it’s time to get them replaced.

Confused on how to interpret them? Read on to learn more.

What Are Tyre Wear Indicators?

Tyre wear indicators, also referred to as tread wear indicators or “wear bars,” are small rubber bars built into the grooves of your car’s tyres.

These indicators are strategically placed and act as markers to determine the level of wear on your tyres.

As your tyres wear down over time due to usage, the tread depth decreases, and these wear indicators become more visible.

How To Read Tyre Tread Indicators

Reading tyre tread indicators is a straightforward process, and it can be done without any specialised tools. All you need to do is locate these small bars on your tyre’s tread.

When your tyres are new, the tread depth is at its maximum, and the indicators are barely visible or completely hidden within the grooves of the tread. However, as you drive your vehicle over time, the tread wears down due to friction and road conditions.

When the tyres wear down to a certain point, the indicators become more prominent and start to appear closer to the surface of the tyre.

Once you notice these indicators have reached the same level as the surface of the tread, it is a clear indication that your tyres have reached the minimum safe tread depth.

This means that your tyres are no longer safe to use and need immediate replacement.

Why Are Tyre Tread Wear Indicators Important?

Safety First

Tread depth plays a critical role in maintaining traction, especially in wet and slippery conditions.

As your tyres wear down, they lose their ability to effectively disperse water from the road surface, leading to an increased risk of hydroplaning and loss of control.

By replacing your tyres when the indicators show, you can significantly reduce the chances of accidents caused by reduced traction

In many countries, there are regulations that dictate the minimum allowable tread depth for tyres to be considered road-legal.

Failing to meet these requirements may result in fines or even penalties.

Improved Fuel Efficiency

As the tread wears down, your tyres experience more rolling resistance, which requires the engine to work harder to maintain the same speed.

By replacing your tyres at the right time, as indicated by the tread wear indicators, you can enjoy better fuel economy and save money at the pump.

Prolonged Tyre Lifespan

Regularly monitoring the tyre tread indicators means you'll notice any issues with the tyres earlier, and allows you to address these issues promptly, such as improper wheel alignment or tyre rotation.

Taking corrective action can extend the lifespan of your tyres.


Regularly checking tread wear indicators and maintaining adequate tread depth can significantly enhance road safety, reduce the risk of accidents, and save you from potential expenses.

Pay attention to those little raised bars whenever you take a look at your tyres - they might be signalling it’s time for a change!

Louis from Tyre Geek


I'm Louis, an engineer passionate about helping Australians choose better tyres for their vehicles!