Why is tire tread depth important? Because the depth of your treads directly impacts how much grip those tires will give you in inclement weather, and off anything besides dry flat pavement. Another common and important question is “How do I check tire tread wear?” If you’re wondering how to check tire tread depth, you should know that a penny is all you need to effively measure if your tires are still capable of providing the grip you need in wet or other inclement conditions. While the minimum appropriate tread depth for safety is generally 2/32nds of an inch, what you can do in a pinch is to place a US penny in the groove of your tire, with Lincoln’s hair facing the wheel. If his hair is visible, you need new tires.
For more information about how to check tire tread depth and answers to questions like “How do I check tire tread wear?” get in touch with us here at Garden Grove Nissan near Santa Ana.
What is the Recommended Tire Tread Depth for Safety?
Fresh new tires have a tread depth of roughly 10/32 or 11/32 of an inch (about a third of an inch). Tires meant to handle inclement situations, like Winter tires or off-road tires, have deeper tread grooves than that. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends that you should replace your tires when their tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch. Any lower than this and even everyday all-season tires will rapidly lose the ability to grip in even moderately wet conditions.
How to Check Tire Tread Depth: The Penny Test
The easiest way to check the tread depth of your tires is the penny test:
- Insert the penny with Lincoln head-first into a tire tread groove.
- Check if Lincoln’s head is covered and no longer visible between the grooves.
- If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are 2/32 inches deep or less and it’s time to replace them.
- Repeat this process on all four tires and in multiple locations on each tire.
What Are Other Ways to Check Your Tire Tread Depth?
There are other ways to check tread depth as well:
- Tread Depth Gauge: Tread depth gauges are sold at every Orange County-area auto parts store, and make precise tread depth measurements easy. Put the probe into the shallowest tread groove, then press the top bar of the gauge flat against the tire, and you will see the results on the gauge.
- Tread Wear Bars: Wear bars show that a tire needs to be replaced, and are often found at the bottom of the tread grooves in different places across the tires. If the bars are flush with the surrounding tire ribs, this means that the tread depth has reached 2/32 of an inch.