How Do I Know My Tires Need to be Changed?

By Product Expert | Posted in Safety, Service on Thursday, August 13th, 2020 at 7:37 pm
stock photo of penny being inserted into car tread groove

Have you thought much about your tires recently? When you last went out to your car, did you check to see how deep your treads are, or did you just get in and go? Chances are, you just shut the door and drove off, but you should check your tire treads every week or so to see how they are wearing down. Read more of this entry to learn more about how to identify when your tires need to be changed.

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How Does the Penny Test Work?

One of the most well-known ways to check your car tires is to bring a (United States) penny out to your car and insert it into the deepest part of the tread. Point the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head down and stick it into the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is showing, your tire treads are low, and your tire treads should be changed. If the tread covers the hair or forehead of the president, you are good!

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Test Tire Tread Without Coins

It is possible to test tire treads without a penny, and a lot of you are probably looking at your car with empty pockets wondering what to do. A good alternative to the penny is to look for the tread depth indicator. Most modern tires have these markers in the tread that are made to be even with your treads when your treads are getting low. A brand new set of tires would show deep tread grooves and some flat-topped bumps that stick out of the bottom of the tread grooves but do not extend all the way up to the outermost part of the tire. When the outermost treads wear down to these marks, it is time to replace your tires.

person holding tire of blue car
finger pointing at tire tread wear mark

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Why do Tires Have Tire Treads?

Tires have tire treads because it’s not necessary for the entire surface of a tire to touch the ground. You can get more traction as the grooves stretch and grip onto the road, or other surfaces like dirt, sand, snow, and ice. Smooth tires would mean a smoother ride, but a smoother ride isn’t always a safe one. Some tires will have more aggressive grooves for more traction and capability, while other tires have fewer, and thinner grooves for more comfortable rides. Regardless of the type of tire you have, the coin test will still work.

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