How to Check the Tread in Your Tires

Apr 12, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

As a car owner, you know that you need to make sure your tires have sufficient tread. You likely realize that the tread is what allows your tires to grip the road and keeps your car firmly on the pavement. Having enough tread is important all year, especially if you have to stop suddenly, but it can be crucial when the roads are wet, snowy, or icy. Luckily, there are several easy ways to check the tread on your tires so you can replace them if needed.

Tread Bars

Your tires may have wear indicators or tread bars. These wear bars are molded right into the tires. When the tread wears down, it will reveal the indicator, letting you know that it’s time to replace the tire. They will be in the bottom area of the tread grooves at various points around your tire. If you don’t have the tools for another test on hand or don’t want to grab a penny, you can look at the bar. If it has become flush with the ribs next to it, then your tire has less than 2/32 of its tread left and should be replaced.

Penny or Quarter Test

Perhaps the easiest way to check the tread uses a penny. Grab a normal penny and put it in the groove of the tread, so Lincoln’s head points down and faces you. If you can see the entirety of Lincoln’s head, then your tire tread is at 2/32 inches or less, and you need to change your tires as soon as possible. You can also do a quarter test and perform the same steps, but with Washington’s head. If the tread reaches his head, then you are fine since you have 4/32 inches or more tread left.

See Your Mechanic

If you are unsure if your tread is worn down or know you are ready for a replacement, you can also just visit your mechanic. They will have the right tools on hand to determine whether your tread is thick enough to be safe. Best of all, your mechanic should also be able to sell you replacement tires and install them right away if it turns out your tread is dangerously low. But with these simple tricks you can test your tires at home. Keep in mind that you should replace your tires soon if the tread is less than 3/32 of an inch and need to do so as soon as possible if it is 2/32 of an inch or less.

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