How to Check Tire Tread

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Though many tire manufacturers state how many miles specific tires are designed to be driven, your driving style and road conditions can lengthen or shorten a tire’s life significantly.

And when it comes to staying safe behind the wheel, having sufficient tire tread is about as important as it gets. Without enough tread, your tires won’t be able to maintain good traction with the road and will be unable to channel water away from the tire’s path.

But how can you tell if your tires really need to be replaced?  Read on and we’ll show you a few super easy ways to check your tire tread depth.

#1: The Lincoln test. recommends turning a penny upside down and placing it in your tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then it’s time to change the tires.

#2: The quarter test. Instead of using a penny, use a quarter and place it into the tire tread upside down. If the tread doesn’t touch Washington’s head, then you should consider replacing your tires as soon as possible.

#3: Look for tread indicators. Tires have tread-wear indicators molded into the bottoms of their tread grooves. When those tread-wear indicators, which appear as worn bars, are visible, your tires should be replaced.

#4: Buy a tire depth gauge. A decent tread depth gauge should cost you no more than 5-10 dollars. recommends changing your tires when the tread is 2/32”.  This is the minimum tread depth allowed in many states.

#5: Have your tires checked during routine maintenance. When you take your car in for an oil change or a repair, ask the mechanic to check the tread depth of your tires. Here at AAA Car Care, we’ll check your tires as part of our free maintenance inspection available to AAA members. We’ll show you the tread depth of your tires and let you know if it’s time to have them replaced. Browse our online tire site,, and select from a wide variety of brand name tires at great prices.

Remember, tire life varies, so be sure to check your tire tread depth at least once a month and don’t wait to replace them if the tread depth measures at or below 2/32”.

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