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How to check tire treads

Are you feeling a little “tire”d of not knowing how to check tire treads? Sadly, having bad tires isn’t just a headache – it’s a real safety hazard.

But don’t worry – with the right knowledge and some easy steps, checking up on the tread on your tires can actually be fun! It pays to learn some basics about tire maintenance so that you can avoid an angry mechanic (or worse, an unhappy roadway) – read on for more insight so you can hit the road safely with peace of mind.

Definition of tire tread depth

Tire tread depth is the measurement of the amount of rubber that remains on your tire’s tread surface. The deeper the tread, the better your tire’s grip and traction will be on wet or slick surfaces.


How Often Should You Check Your Tire Tread?

According to automotive experts, you should be sure to check my tire tread depth every 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometers km) or when it reaches 4/32 inches deep.

You should check your tires monthly, as recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If for any reason the tread depth reaches 2/32 inches deep or less, then there’s no other option but to replace those tires.

Related: How close to sidewall can a tire be patched?

Penny Test for Tire Tread Wear Measurement

When it comes to maintaining the safety of your vehicle, checking the tread depth of your tires is a crucial step.

The penny test is one of the most popular ways to measure your tire’s tread depth. You simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you.

If his whole head is visible, then it’s time for you to think about a replacement since that indicates less than 2/32 inches of tread left.

How to check tire treads
How to check tire treads

Quarter Test for Tire Tread Wear Measurement

Another popular way to check your tire tread is the quarter test. This test requires you to place a quarter in the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down and facing you.

If his whole head is visible, then it means that your tire’s tread depth has reached less than 4/32 inches – significantly reducing its ability to perform optimally on wet surfaces.


Check the Tire Tread Wear Indicator

Your tire should have a tread wear indicator, also known as “wear bars”. These are narrow grooves that run between the main treads. When these become flush with the surface of your main treads, it means your tire’s tread depth has reached 2/32 inches and is no longer safe to drive on.

Related: Why Is My Tire Pressure Light Blinking?

Measuring with a Tread Depth Gauge

Measuring your tire’s remaining tread depth is a relatively straightforward process, and using a tire tread depth gauge is one of the most reliable ways to get precise and accurate readings.

It is possible to find a reliable, simple graduated probe gauge at most auto parts stores. All you have to do is plug it into the groove of the tire and press against the tread block.

The tire tread depth gauge measures in 32nds of an inch and it’s important to stay at 6/32 or deeper for good tire tread.

If it dips down below 4/32, you should definitely start considering getting new tires – when it goes down to 2/32 that means you should replace them ASAP!

How to check tire treads 2
How to check tire treads 2

The amount of tire tread affects your stopping distance, especially in wet or snowy conditions.

For example, having 6/32 tread allows you to stop at 185 feet, but if your tire tread is only 4/32, then your stopping distance increases to 205 feet. With 2/32 tread, the braking distance gets even longer with a measure of 250 feet!

The choice is clear: investing in regular maintenance for your vehicle will not only extend the life of your tires, but also help keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

How to Better Maintain Your Tires and Optimize Tread Depth

To optimize your tire tread’s life, it is important to maintain them regularly and even consider how you drive.

Make sure to check the pressure routinely by visualizing your tires or using a tire pressure gauge for an accurate measurement for each tire.

Have them rotated every 6,000 miles to further protect against premature wear and tear. Additionally, ensure that the alignment of your car is adequate as an imbalanced ride can lead to bald spots on certain areas of the tires.

Last but not least, if you live in an area that experiences colder temperatures, then investing in winter tires may be advisable since they provide controlled grip and traction regardless of what the climate throws at you.

FAQs about how to check tire tread

What is the best way to check tire tread depth?

The best way to check tire tread depth is to use a simple graduated probe gauge.

Is the penny test for tires accurate?

The penny test is fairly accurate, but it may not provide as precise readings compared to measuring with a tire tread depth gauge. You can also check the condition of your tire by looking at the wear bars and seeing if they are flush with the surface of the main treads.

Should I replace all 4 tires at once?

It’s recommended that you replace all four tires at once so that you have even wear and tear on each wheel.

What is the minimum tread depth for winter tires?

The minimum tread depth for winter tires should be 6/32 or deeper for optimal performance in cold weather conditions.

Is there a certain speed limit that tires should not exceed?

Yes, tires should not exceed their maximum speed limit as indicated on the tire sidewall. Exceeding this speed limit can cause damage to the tread and could lead to a blowout.

What happens if I drive on tires with low tread depth?

Driving with low tread depth can put you and your passengers at risk of an accident due to reduced traction and stability. It can also lead to increased braking distance in wet and snowy conditions which can be dangerous.

For any other questions or concerns about how to check tire tread, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll be more than happy to help!


Use the penny or quarter test, check for wear bars and use a tire pressure gauge to measure your remaining tread depth. Ensure that all tires are at 6/32 or deeper as this will prevent any accidents when driving in wet weather conditions.

Also, maintain your tires by rotating every 6,000 miles and aligning them accordingly. If needed, winter tires may also be considered if you live in an area with colder climates. Thank you for being helpful on how to check tire treads!

1 thought on “How to check tire treads”

  1. Is the “penny test” outdated? I recently watched a video suggesting the use of the “quarter test” instead. In the video, a promotional spokesperson from an oil change place discussed how the quarter measures 4/32″ deep, while the penny measures 2/32″, and claimed that the quarter test is now the recommended method. I’m curious to know if this claim holds any truth.


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