Keeping your family safe on the road starts with keeping your vehicle safe on the road. One of the most important things you can do is make sure your tires are in good condition, starting with the tread depth. There are several ways you can figure out if it’s time to replace a tire. Heavily worn tread will prevent a tire from performing its best and can lead to unsafe driving conditions. One of the simplest, most common ways to check tread depth takes just a penny and a few moments of your time.
Tire tread depth in the US is measured in 32nds of an inch. New tires typically come with 10/32” or 11/32” tread depths, and some truck, SUV and winter tires may have deeper tread depths than other models. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing tires when they reach 2/32”, and many states legally require tires to be replaced at this depth.
The idea of the penny test is to check whether you’ve hit the 2/32” threshold:
- Place a penny between the tread ribs on your tire. A “rib” refers to the raised portion of tread that spans the circumference of your tire. Tire tread is composed of several ribs.
- Place the penny so that Lincoln’s head points down into the tread.
- Check if you can see if the top of Lincoln’s head disappears between the ribs. If it does, your tread is still above 2/32” , If you can see his entire head, you should think about replacing the tire because your tread is no longer deep enough.
When performing the penny tire test, remember not only to check each tire, but to check various places around each tire. Pay special attention the most worn areas of the tire. Even if parts of your tread are deeper than 2/32”, you should still replace the tire when any areas fail the penny test. If you see uneven tread wear around the tire, you should make an appointment to have your vehicle checked out by a technician.
A simple, easy way to keep your vehicle running smooth and your family safe!