Wheels and Tires

New Winter tire tread depths decreasing?

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 19th, 2019 7:41 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 20, 2009
136 posts
73 upvotes

New Winter tire tread depths decreasing?

I'm shopping for new winter tires and I have noticed that many tires now come with a tread depth of only 10/32 or 11/32 inches (8mm or 8.75mm). In the past, all the winter tires usually came with 12/32 or 13/32 (9.5mm to 10.3mm) tread depth. Can anyone explain why winter tire tread depths have come down?

Here are some examples.
Michelin X-Ice Xi3 : 10.5/32
Cooper Discoverer True North : 11/32
CONTINENTAL VIKING CONTACT 7 : 10/32
CONTINENTAL WINTERCONTACT SI : 10/32
Hankook Winter i*Cept iZ2 : 11/32
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 : 11/32
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 : 11/32 or 12/32 depends on tire size.
Nexen Winguard Ice Plus : 11/32.

Contrast with
General Altimax Arctic 12 : 12/32
Nokian Nordman 7 : 13/32
NOKIAN HAKKAPELIITTA 9 : 12/32 or 13/32 depends on tire size.
17 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 30, 2004
3663 posts
1702 upvotes
Toronto
Great finding; perhaps manufacturers are cutting cost and wanting people to replace their tires sooner...
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Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2015
8874 posts
5132 upvotes
Canada, Eh!!
Could be wrong but believe for the most part the less depth tires have the latest multi cell compound whereas the more depth tires are somewhat older design/compound and in most cases can be studded... basically most non studdable ice tires will have less tread then studdable snow tires. The latter will tend to be more blocky in treads as well.

IMHO the design of the tire tread has less to do with effectiveness vs the compound technology. Look at the top rated ice tires and they have different tread design but are not that far apart in ratings.

https://www.tirerack.com/tires/surveyre ... ype=W&VT=C
2022: BOC raised 8 times and MCAP raised its prime next day.
2017 to 2018: BOC raised rates 5 times and MCAP raised its prime next day each time.
2020: BOC dropped rates 3 times and MCAP waited to drop its prime to include all 3 drops.
Deal Fanatic
Oct 26, 2008
6868 posts
2665 upvotes
BC
You can't have it all ways. A winter tire can't excel at cutting through deep, fresh snow AND excel at maintaining traction on packed ice AND perform well at high speed on bare wet or dry pavement.

Tire makers may aim their product at regional markets or try to come up with a design that performs well for the broadest possible market.

The car owner has to make their own judgement call on what's best for them - and not just believe marketing hype.

Tread block design and original depth certainly comes into the equation and the industry trend has been away from the traditional chunky snow tire concept.

An optimal tire for the East coast is probably not the best choice for the Prairies nor the West coast.

Maybe the GTA presents a big challenge for a tire that meets varying winter conditions.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
38211 posts
24390 upvotes
Center of Universe
My Hankook IPikes RW11 has a tread depth of 14/32.
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
29094 posts
4782 upvotes
Montreal
xi_32 wrote: I'm shopping for new winter tires and I have noticed that many tires now come with a tread depth of only 10/32 or 11/32 inches (8mm or 8.75mm). In the past, all the winter tires usually came with 12/32 or 13/32 (9.5mm to 10.3mm) tread depth. Can anyone explain why winter tire tread depths have come down?

Here are some examples.
Michelin X-Ice Xi3 : 10.5/32
Cooper Discoverer True North : 11/32
CONTINENTAL VIKING CONTACT 7 : 10/32
CONTINENTAL WINTERCONTACT SI : 10/32
Hankook Winter i*Cept iZ2 : 11/32
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 : 11/32
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 : 11/32 or 12/32 depends on tire size.
Nexen Winguard Ice Plus : 11/32.

Contrast with
General Altimax Arctic 12 : 12/32
Nokian Nordman 7 : 13/32
NOKIAN HAKKAPELIITTA 9 : 12/32 or 13/32 depends on tire size.
Yup. Guess what I bought.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Mar 9, 2007
15095 posts
11832 upvotes
Think of the Childre…
I'm still running winters with 5-6 depth.

WOULD SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Deal Expert
Jun 30, 2006
20559 posts
9075 upvotes
Toronto
Tread depth is not the only thing to consider when buying tires. Technology has evolved and tires that wear down perform just as well as brand new tires due to the compounds and materials used.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 5, 2004
4638 posts
1359 upvotes
Guelph, ON
carmaster wrote: Tread depth is not the only thing to consider when buying tires. Technology has evolved and tires that wear down perform just as well as brand new tires due to the compounds and materials used.
Do you work for Michelin?

I've they've improved, keep tread depth the same and pass on add technology to consumer.

Because I guarantee when wear bar gets down faster now, garages will be telling the average consumer to replace their tire. Not its ok your tire is worn, new tech will still give you traction. Not to mention if you crash your adjustor will wonder why your running on bald tires.
Deal Addict
Sep 8, 2017
4634 posts
4891 upvotes
GTA
I would imagine that tall, soft tread blocks squirm around and offer poor performance in dry conditions. So there was to be some balance between tread depth (and life) vs dry performance.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Oct 23, 2008
17287 posts
15086 upvotes
GTA, ON
I don't drive enough to kill off my tread before replacement. I'm sure the rubber will be old and rock hard & need replacement way before my tread is down to the minimum.
Tis banana is IRIE 😎

10% off is cold, 50% off is warm, 75% off is hot, but FREE IS RFD!
Member
User avatar
Dec 16, 2009
230 posts
307 upvotes
Toronto
Just got new Michelin X-Ice Xi3's yesterday and I measured just 10/32 on them
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 7, 2004
8022 posts
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West GTEH!
Like everything else (groceries, fast food, etc.), looks like Tire Manufacturers are shrinking their products (tread depth). Angry Face
😎
Deal Expert
User avatar
Oct 5, 2008
17006 posts
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Toronto
vkizzle wrote: My Hankook IPikes RW11 has a tread depth of 14/32.
I have the same tires and just looked and you were correct.

I just put mine back on and they had 10/32 after 3 years use...i was surprised at the time and thought "wow, hardly any wear!" (thinking they were 11/32 new).

lol !
Deal Guru
Jun 24, 2006
13427 posts
7681 upvotes
I think the Continentals, although starting low, wear pretty well. I drove 3 good winters on my WinterContact SIs, and sold them for $150 on kijiji with still 7/32 - 7.5/32 remaining, and I pretty sure they started at 10/32.

I will be very happy if I get the same tread life from the VikingContact 7s I just replaced them with. Which, have been very impressive in the little bit of nasty weather we had last week.
Deal Addict
Jul 6, 2010
1522 posts
3206 upvotes
Not Toronto
My X-Ice Xi2 tires purchased in 2011 were 10/32" when new.
On vacation

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