How to Check Tire Tread Depth

How can you tell when it’s time for new tires? It’s important to know how to check tire tread depth because bald tires put you, your family, and other people on the road at risk since you have less traction and stopping power.

Luckily, there are several ways you can tell if your tread is low enough that you need to spring for new tires. Here are some of the most reliable ways to check tire tread depth.

What Is Tire Tread Depth?

Tire tread depth is the distance from the deepest part of your tire’s groove to the top of the tread block. Higher tread depth helps your car stop quicker and helps keep your vehicle on the road in wet, snowy, or icy conditions.

You should absolutely replace your tires when they reach 2/32” of tread depth, and you should consider replacing them once they reach 4/32” tread depth, because that’s when your tires start to lose their performance. 

Ways to Check Tread Depth

Here are the 5 best ways to check your tire’s tread depth. No matter which method you use, measure the part of your tire that looks the most worn out.

Penny Test

If you still use cash and have some coins handy, you can easily check your tire’s tread depth. Start with a penny, and place it between the tire’s treads with Lincoln’s head teaching down.

Can you see the top of Lincoln’s head? If so, your tires have less than 2/32” of tread depth and should be replaced immediately.

If at least part of Lincoln’s head is covered, your tires may still have some life in them. However, you may want to consider replacing them if they don’t also pass the quarter test.

Quarter Test

Like the penny test, insert a quarter into your tire’s tread with Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, your tires have less than 4/32” of tread left and are experiencing reduced traction as a result. You should consider replacing your tires if they fail the quarter test.

Tread Wear Indicator Bars

Don’t carry cash on you? Luckily, there are ways to check your tire’s tread depth without using coins.

Most tires these days have tread wear indicator bars molded into the tread grooves. If your tire’s tread is level with the indicator bars, the tread only has 2/32” left, and the tire should be replaced as soon as possible.

Tread Depth Gauge

Can’t find the indicator bars and don’t have any coins? Want to get the most accurate reading? You can check your tread depth by using a tread depth gauge. These gadgets are small, cheap, and easy to get from an auto parts store or online.

How do you use a tread depth gauge?

Above a groove in the tread pattern, brace the gauge handle against the tread blocks. Aim the gauge into the groove and push the probe down until it hits the base of the tread. Remove the gauge and read the tread depth, which you can usually find on the side of the barrel.

Have the Professionals at Action Gator Tire Check

If you still aren’t confident in your ability to check your tire’s tread depth, or if you just don’t want to get your hands dirty, we’re happy to check your tread depth for you and let you know how close you are to needing new tires.

Get New Tires in Central Florida

If you live in Central Florida and need new tires, you can find a nearby Action Gator Tire location to help you get the perfect tires for your vehicle and driving style. As far north as Oxford and Sanford, as far south as Lakeland, and everywhere in between, Action Gator Tire is your best choice for tires in Florida.Contact your nearest location to schedule an appointment today.