One of the most overlooked tire maintenance requirements is checking tread depth or tread life. Granted, when you take your car in for service the technician typically checks the life of your tires. However, it is always a good idea to measure tread depth on your own.
Checking tread depth and the life of your tires regularly is important. In order to effectively grip the road, evacuate water and maintain control, your tires need to have a safe amount of remaining tread. If the grooves in the tire have almost disappeared, the tire will not perform and this will result in reduced traction and grip. This is particularly dangerous in wet or snowy road conditions.
Luckily, checking tread depth is easy and can be done without any special tools. There are three quick and easy methods of how to check your tire’s tread depth. Two of these three methods don’t require any tools and can be performed in no time.
Lionhart Tires suggests checking your tire tread depth every 3,000 miles or once it reaches 4/32 inches deep. Take note that if your tire tread depth reads 2/32 inches or less; it is time to replace your tires.
Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head upside down into the tire tread groove.
If Lincoln’s head is covered and no longer visible between the grooves, then your tread depth is within safe limits.
If you can still see all of Lincoln’s face and head, it means that the tire tread depth is 2/32 inches deep or less, and indicates that it is time to replace your tires.
Similarly to the penny test, insert a quarter upside down into the tire tread groove.
If the tread touches Washington’s head, then you have at least 4/32 inch of tread remaining.
Although this method requires a special tool, it is the most convenient and accurate way to measure tread depth. Tread depth gauges can be found at your local automotive stores and are relatively inexpensive.
Typical tread depth gauges will measure 32nds of an inch, or 25-26 in millimeters. Some gauges may have a needle-like design with a portion that expands to measure tread depth.
Keep in mind that tires wear unevenly, so it is a good idea to take measurements in different locations around the tire.
Here are a few tips to help optimize tread wear and tread life which will help prevent premature tire wear: