How to Check Tire Tread & Pressure at Home

January 18th, 2024 by

The tires on your vehicle are essential for keeping your car, truck, SUV, or minivan on the road. In addition, tires are involved in traction, acceleration, braking, and steering. When you have the right type of tires for your driving style and the proper amount of tread for the road conditions, you’ll notice your vehicle handles well, rides comfortably, and gives you the necessary traction and braking power for safe driving.

How do you know if your tires have the proper amount of tread and pressure for optimum performance? Our knowledgeable team at Classic Toyota of Tyler, Texas, put this list together so you can check your tire tread and pressure at home.

What Is Tire Tread?

When you look at your tires, you’ll notice that not all the rubber material touches the road surface. The tread of your tires is the part that makes contact with the terrain, whether it’s asphalt, gravel, dirt, mud, or snow. Tire treads come in a dazzling array of patterns and styles, and you’ll need to consult a professional tire expert to understand what type of tire and tread is needed for your driving style and road conditions.

The tread depth refers to how much raised rubber is left on your tires. Over time, the material wears away, and the less tread depth your tires have, the less traction and braking power your vehicle has. The less tire tread you have, the more dangerous driving becomes.

In addition to having effective tread, it’s essential to keep the pressure in your tires filled to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You can find that information in your owners manual or on a sticker inside the front driver’s side door. If you’re not comfortable using a tire pressure gauge, bring your vehicle to our dealership, and we can check the pressure and fill your tires as needed.

How To Measure Tread Using a Coin

Using a coin to measure your vehicle’s tire tread is fast and affordable; all you need is a penny or a quarter. When measuring your tire tread, there are some key figures to watch out for. If the tread is only 4/32 of an inch, plan on replacing your tires soon. If there’s 2/32 of an inch of tread or less left, you’ll need to get new tires right away. While you’ll find more accurate measurements using the wear indicator bars or a tire tread gauge, you can get an estimate of your tread’s depth by using a coin.

The Quarter Test

Using a quarter will let you know when your tire tread is at 4/32 of an inch, meaning you can start planning your next tire purchase. Take a quarter and turn it so George Washington’s head is pointing down. Place the quarter between two tread grooves. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, you have less than 4/32 of an inch of tire tread.

The Penny Test

If your quarter test indicated less than 4/32 of an inch, you’ll want to go further to see whether it’s less than 2/32 of an inch. This would mean that your tire tread is no longer at a safe level. Grab a penny and turn it so Abraham Lincoln’s head is upside down. Insert the penny in this position between the tire tread grooves. If some of Lincoln’s head is covered, you have over 2/32 of an inch of tread left, but if you can see all his hair, you need a replacement as soon as possible.

How To Measure Tread Using Wear Indicator Bars

Manufacturers add wear indicator bars between the grooves of each tire’s treads. You can see these bars around the circumference of the tire. Measuring your tire’s tread by visually inspecting the tread bars is fairly simple. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Look at your tire and locate the wear indicator tread bar. These bars are raised to 2/32 of an inch and set between the grooves.
  2. Carefully inspect the level of the bar to see how far below the tire tread it is.
  3. If the tire tread is level or below the wear indicator bar, your tires are worn beyond 2/32 of an inch, and you’ll need to replace them.

How To Use a Tire Tread Gauge

If you want a more accurate reading of your vehicle’s tread depth than what you’d get from using a coin or visually inspecting the wear indicator bars, stop by your local Tyler, Texas, auto store and pick up a tire tread gauge. This handy tool lets you take tread measurements in fractions of an inch, telling you your precise tread depth. Read the following steps to learn how to use a tire tread gauge:

  1. Before you begin, place the bottom of the gauge on a flat surface to clear it from previous readings. It should read 0/32 before you measure the tread depth.
  2. Next, find an area of the tire that looks the most worn, and place the measuring scale between the treads until the gauge bar rests firmly between them. To get an accurate reading, avoid measuring on the wear indicator bar.
  3. Push the probe or driver part of the gauge as far between the treads as it will go.
  4. The top of the gauge’s barrel will rise. Carefully remove the measuring scale by the barrel — not the pin — and take the reading.
  5. Repeat the process on several parts of the tire, and work out the average of the readings.
  6. If the reading is 6/32, the tread is good. If it’s 4/32, start budgeting for new tires, but if your tread is 2/32 or below, you’ll need new tires as soon as possible.

If your tire tread is 2/32 of an inch or less, whether using a coin, wear indicator tread bars, or the more accurate tire tread gauge, you’ll need new tires.

Do You Need Help Checking Your Tire Tread?

While checking your tire tread and pressure at home isn’t complicated, our team at Classic Toyota of Tyler, Texas, is here to help you determine whether you need new tires. We’ll learn about your driving habits to find the right set of tires for your lifestyle and driving needs. We also invite you to browse our inventory of new Toyota vehicles and schedule a test drive of your favorite one. Contact us today  to learn more about our tire services, available financing options, and key features of our Toyota vehicles.

Image by Obi Licensed via Unsplash

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