The tread is the part of the tyre that makes contact with the surface of the road. And if you take a look at different tyres on the market, you'll notice a great deal of variety in their tread patterns.
Why are they so different? Because a tread pattern is a unique design that enhances a vehicle with grip and handling for specific driving conditions. Just like in a detective novel, you could identify a make of tyre by the tracks it leaves on the road.
Every tyre tread has four constituent parts:
- Ribs are the raised section of the tread pattern, made up of tread blocks;
- Grooves are deep channels that run circumferentially and laterally around the tyre;
- Tread blocks are the raised rubber segments that make contact with the road surface;
- Sipes are small, thin slots moulded into the tread blocks.
Taken together, the ribs, grooves, tread blocks, and sipes can be arranged in a unique pattern to modulate the tyre's performance in critical areas like noise, handling, traction, and wear.
And that in turn provides tyre manufacturers with the ability to develop tread patterns to address specific driving needs like wet braking, dry handling, aquaplaning (hydroplaning) resistance, and traction on ice and snow.
How many tyre tread patterns are there? Quite a few. But broadly speaking, we can distinguish between three categories of tyre tread pattern. Which one does your car have?