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TYRE-MAKER Continental has introduced a new safety warning on its brand new premium tyre, the ContiSportContact 5 P.

The tyre is fitted high performance cars, such as the Audi TT RS, Maserati Quattroporte, and Mercedes AMG range.

The new ContiSportContact features a new hybrid tread design for grip and handling – which is what you would expect. But when the tyre wears down to 3mm a rain drop symbol appears to provide a safety indicator for wet conditions.

Incremental wear indicator provides safety warning

While it might appear a marketing gimmick to encourage owners to replace tyres more quickly – the legal minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm – Continental’s marketing director, Guy Frobisher, denies this is the case.

“With a high performance tyre, the wear from new to 3mm is even and stable,” explained Mr Frobisher. “Beyond 3mm and degradation begins to speed up, which will start to increase braking distances, for example. The rain drop symbol is there to remind owners that they should start considering replacement. It’s an extra visual safety indicator.”

Independent research by the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) found that worn tyres significantly increased the chances of having an accident on wet roads by increasing the stopping distance.

The test results showed that significant increases in stopping distance began to appear when the tyre was worn down to 3mm. Although the legal minimum UK tread depth is only 1.6mm, this new research showed that tyres with a 3mm tread had a 25% better performance than those at 1.6mm in wet conditions.

In terms of stopping distance this represents an extra 8 metres (25ft). In one test, where a new tyre with a tread depth of 8mm was compared to one with only 1.6mm, the stopping distance increased by 13 metres (42.25ft) – the equivalent to double the length of a typical living room, said MIRA.


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