The Penny Tire Tread Test

You can use a penny to test the tread depth of your vehicle’s tires, so there’s no excuse not to do it. Driving on bald tires is dangerous, but we’ll get more into that below. York Tire & Auto Service would be happy to rotate your tires regularly and let you know when you need new ones, but you can also check for this on your own with a penny or a tire tread gauge.

Why Tire Tread Is Crucial

Tire tread is important because your tires cannot grip the road without it. If you look closely at new tire tread, you’ll see deep grooves and slits. These grooves and slits are what grab onto road surfaces. Over time, the tire tread wears down because it is constantly rubbing against road surfaces.

What Happens When the Tread Gets Too Low

When your tire tread gets too low, there aren’t the grooves and slits your tires use to funnel water, cut through ice and snow, and to protect them from heat. In cold and/or wet weather, bald tires can hydroplane. In hot weather, bald tires can blow out because of the hot road surface.

How to Test Tire Tread Depth

Testing your tire tread depth is easy. Grab a penny to use as your measuring tool. In bright light so you can see easily, insert the penny head side up and facing you in between the tire tread rows all around each tire. Make sure your vehicle is turned off and the parking brake is set while you do this.

Read the Test Results

If there is anywhere on the tire that the tread depth did not cover the top of the president’s head, your tire tread depth is lower than 2/32-of-an-inch and that is too low. You want the tread to always cover President Lincoln’s head. Anything less means that you are driving on bald tires.

Check for Uneven Wear

If your tires do pass the tread depth test, check them for uneven tread wear next. Look closely at the tread around each tire to see if you can spot areas where it has worn down unevenly. The edges are a common place for shoulder wear and you might see scalloped wear on the tire surfaces.

Bring your automobile into York Tire & Auto Service if you suspect that there is anything wrong with your vehicle’s tires. You’ll find our shop in Red Lion, PA, and you can reach us by calling 717-356-9654.

Photo by Herreid from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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