In order for your tires to deliver the best performance, traction, and safety, they must have sufficient tread depth. Tread depth is so crucial to tire safety that US law mandates tires must have plainly visible tread wear indicator bars. Unfortunately these bars can be difficult to see until the tread is well worn and the tire is compromised. The safest way to avoid tire problems is to periodically check your tread depth. You can measure tire tread depth quickly and easily with a simple check known as the penny test.

Take the Penny Tire Thread Test:

  • Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire grooves, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head.
  • If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head in any of the five sections, this likely means that the treads are excessively worn.
  • If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is consistently covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape.

Regularly checking tread depth and wear is a highly important part of your in car maintenance. Not only will you know when your tires need to be replaced, you can also look for symptoms of other problems such as:

  • Over inflation of tires – extreme wear in the center of the tread
  • Under inflation of tires – excessive wear on tire shoulders
  • Poor wheel alignment – uneven tread wear

While it can be easy to put off simple car maintenance tasks like checking your tire pressure and tire tread depth, think about how much is riding on your tires, and it should be easier to remember. Checking your tire tread depth will help you to protect your tire investment, improve gas mileage, and most importantly stay safe on the road.

Remember, a penny saved is a penny you can use for checking your tread depth!