Tire tread: Yes, tread depth is important, but more important is how the overall tread depth — on all fours — matches each other. Are they within 2/32nds-inch of each other? Are they worn evenly across all four faces? If not, you're setting the vehicle up for future assist-sensor failure.
Age: I know that the manufacturers boast about their tires' rubber compound "lasting" up to 10 years, but in reality, there is another side of the tire-warranty lifespan. Repairs (patched-plug combo) usually void the producer's guarantee. "Running" the tire "flat" — i.e., where sidewall damage occurs — is another contract killer. Impact damage (potholes, curbs, etc.) almost always results in a voided warranty, as well.
Turning in any of these issues for a proration within the first six years based on receipt and/or DOT number most likely will result in a rejection letter. If the tire is more than six years old? It's guaranteed there will be no monetary compensation toward a replacement tire for the consumer. And that is information straight from the horse's mouth: a tire supplier regional manger's explanation of proration/warranty tire qualifications at a recent trade show.
Size/brand: We are all aware that no two brands are the same size. Automotive manufacturers have been privy to this for years and the reason behind requiring all four tires to be a matching set on all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles. This mantra also is true for ADAS-equipped vehicles. Your alignment can be dead-on, but when it comes to the vehicle tracking, well, those millimeters off will contribute — by feet driven — and surpass the one-degree threshold that could result in an inaccurate lane-departure warning indicating the vehicle is exiting its lane in a semi-autonomous mode.
Condition: Overall, the tire condition needs to be evaluated before alignment-to-ADAS calibration/recalibration can be accomplished. Sidewall, bead, tread, valley cracking (dry rot) and other observed defects need to be addressed before racking the car or truck.
It is a new world when it comes to alignment and ADAS. Vehicles are more expensive to maintain and more expensive to purchase based on the recent economy-inflation uptick and manufacturers' desire to recoup investment monies on ADAS, V2V/V2x — and everything else in between — technologies.
Those customers, like all customers, are not going to be so happy with keeping the technology rolling forward and having to pay for the extras that support the accuracy of the onboard features.
As automotive professionals, it's our job to keep vehicles safe on the road, and where the rubber meets the road is step one.
Next month: Tricks to setting and keeping ADAS pointing forward from our wrench-turns on the alignment rack.