How to Check Your Tire Treads at Home

March 10th, 2023 by

Tire treads are important components of a car’s wheels. They firmly grip the road surface, hence keeping your car stable on the road. In addition, tire treads prevent unwanted skidding when driving on slippery or loose surface roads. Tire treads can naturally wear out after prolonged driving. You should, therefore, regularly check the treads’ condition for noticeable signs of degradation. Discover how to check the depth of your tire treads and the benefits of keeping the treads in good shape.

How To Gauge the Depth of Tire Treads

Many car owners often wonder how to check the condition of the tire treads. However, a tire tread check is a simple DIY process that doesn’t require professional experience or special tools. Instead, you can assess the condition of the treads using a coin, a tread depth gauge, or a set of wear indicator bars. Here’s how to measure the tread depth using a coin:

Penny Test

The penny test helps determine if your tire treads fall below the 2/32 inches threshold. All you need is a standard U.S. penny with the portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Insert the penny into any groove on the tire.
  • Tilt the penny so that Lincoln’s head is upside down with the coin still inside the tread.
  • Observe Lincoln’s portrait with the penny inside the groove.

If Lincoln’s head disappears inside the groove or you can only see part of the head, then you need not worry; the tread depth is more than 2/32 inches. However, if Lincoln’s head is visible, the tire treads are no longer deep enough and require immediate replacement.

Additional Checks

The penny test isn’t restricted to the tread depth only but should help you ascertain the overall condition of the tires. Therefore, when conducting the test, check all around the tires, paying keen attention to worn-out parts. Even if the treads pass the penny test, you may still need to replace the tire if other parts appear worn out.

Quarter Test

The quarter test is similar to the penny test except that you use the Washington quarter (25-cent piece). The quarter test procedure is as follows:

  • Insert the quarter inside a tire tread with George Washington’s head pointing downward.
  • Observe Washington’s head with the quarter inside the tread.

If the whole head appears submerged inside the tread, the tire is more than 4/32 inches deep and is safe to use. On the other hand, if you can see Washington’s head, the tire isn’t in good condition and probably requires replacement.

What Is the Minimum Recommended Depth for Tire Treads?

The basic unit for measuring tire tread depth is the 32nd inch. If you just bought a car or a new set of tires, the tread depths should be 10/32 or 11/32 inches. Tire tread depth may also vary depending on the type of vehicle. For instance, heavy-duty trucks and SUVs have deeper treads than other car models. The minimum recommended depth for tire treads is 2/32 inches. Therefore, you should probably replace your tires if the depth drops below the minimum threshold.

What Are the Different Types of Tire Treads?

There are four types of tire treads, each suited for a different road condition. They include symmetrical, asymmetrical, directional (unidirectional), and directional (asymmetrical).

Symmetrical Tire Treads

These treads have a continuous pattern of grooves on the whole tire. They’re more versatile and have a longer shelf life than most designs. Symmetrical treads are common on non-high-performance vehicles.

Asymmetrical Tire Treads

Asymmetrical treads consist of hybrid designs to enhance a firm grip on the tire. They’re ideal for sports vehicles because of the large blocks that enable easy maneuvering on sharp bends.

Directional (Asymmetrical and Unidirectional)

Directional asymmetrical treads have V-shaped patterns for siphoning water from the tire’s surface during rain. On the other hand, unidirectional treads feature arrow-like patterns that point in the same direction. They’re very effective in siphoning water to prevent hydroplaning.

Benefits of Stable Tire Treads

Worn-out tire treads can seriously affect the performance of a car’s wheels. In extreme circumstances, worn-out tires can increase the risk of a vehicular accident due to little contact with the ground. Experts, therefore, recommend having your tires checked for the stability of the treads. Below are some benefits of having a stable set of tire treads:

Prevent Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs when you drive through stagnant water, especially after rain. Water usually accumulates on the road, making it difficult to maintain traction in such conditions. Moreover, if the stagnant water doesn’t drain immediately, the wheels will have little contact with the road, with most parts of the wheel riding on water. On the other hand, if your treads are in perfect condition, they’ll siphon rainwater from the surface and help you maintain traction on the road.

Improve Gas Mileage

Gas mileage can be affected by the condition of your tire treads. If the treads are worn out, the tires will have little contact with the road surface. As a result, the car will use more fuel to establish the missing contact with the road surface. On the other hand, if you inflate tires correctly and the treads are in perfect condition, there will be sufficient contact with the ground. As a result, you’ll enjoy an upsurge in gas mileage.

Enhance Road Safety

Tire treads enhance your safety on the road by increasing the vehicle’s response to various operations. For instance, when you apply brakes, the treads create friction due to contact with the road surface, allowing you to stop. Similarly, if you want to turn, the treads firmly grip the ground, preventing the car from slipping off the road.

Maintain Stability on Different Road Surfaces

Tire treads facilitate a smooth ride when driving on different road surfaces. For instance, treads maintain contact with the ground on a loose surface road where friction is minimal. Similarly, on snow-covered road surfaces, the tire treads help maintain stability and improve braking performance.

If you’ve driven your car safely without skidding off the road, it’s because of the tire treads. The tiny grooves are essential for maintaining contact with the ground at all times. With that in mind, you should take your car to a mechanic for a regular assessment of the tire treads.

If you want professional assistance with inspecting or replacing your car’s tires, don’t hesitate to contact our Classic Toyota dealership in Tyler, Texas.


Image by  nrjfalcon1 is licensed with Pixabay License

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