How to Check Tire Tread Depth

A customer learning how to check tire depth on a car

Watertown drivers who have been cruising in their vehicles for a while may notice that their tires are beginning to wear out and malfunction. It’s common for experienced and novice drivers alike to ask, “How do I check my tire tread wear?” Easily enough, all you need is a penny or ruler, and you can check your tire tread depth from wherever you live. Check out how to check tire tread depth below, and contact us if you’re still having any further trouble.



Checking for Recommended Tire Tread Depth

Tires on newer vehicles have a tread depth of about 10/32 or 11/32 of an inch or roughly a third of an inch. However, some trucks, SUVs, and off-roading-designated tires may have even deeper grooves that need to be checked. 

Once your tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch, the safest choice you can make is to replace your tires here at Brookings Auto Mall. Proper tire tread depth is critical to keeping yourself and other Brookings drivers safe. Not to mention that routine tire maintenance can extend the longevity of your tires and your vehicle in general. 

How to Check Tire Tread Depth Using the Penny Test

The most accurate and reliable way to check tire tread depth is to use a ruler. Nonetheless, if you can’t find a ruler, or if you’re driving and need to conduct an emergency tire check, a penny will easily work as a replacement. The size and ridges on a U.S. penny make it an effective and compact tool for measuring tire tread wear. Follow the instructions below to check for tire tread wear: 

  • Insert the penny with Lincoln’s head pointing down into the tire tread groove.
  • Check to see if Lincoln’s head is covered up between the grooves.
  • If Lincoln’s entire head is visible, then that means your tire treads are 2/32 of an inch deep or less and must be replaced.
  • Repeat this process on all four of your tires on the inner and outer ridges to ensure consistent results, as well as to diagnose whether or not your tires are overinflated or underinflated.

Risks of Low Tire Tread Depth

Driving on worn tires is a major safety hazard – for you, your family, and any drivers on the roads of Mitchell. Even though tire tread is technically flush, or dangerously flat, when they reach 2/32 of an inch, even driving around on 4/32 of an inch is a vehicular risk. We understand that people are busy and can’t always take the time to visit Brookings Auto Mall for a tire replacement or to even check their tire tread depth. However, there’s a list of hazards and symptoms that drivers should keep an eye out for as their tires begin to wear:

  • Worn tires are more likely to lose air pressure, which impacts a vehicle’s steering, braking, and fuel economy. Low pressure is also a top cause of tire blowouts, which can lead to temporary loss of vehicle control.
  • Low tread tires are more vulnerable to punctures, which can lead to blowouts and loss of handling.
  • Worn and bald tires struggle to gain traction on hazardous road conditions such as snowy or icy highways.
  • The chance of hydroplaning increases as tire tread depth decreases.
  • Wet roads are more likely to affect a car’s ability to brake quickly and efficiently.

When you take your vehicle to your local service center for regular maintenance, the technicians will inspect your tires for any issues or wear. When it’s time to replace your tires, visit our tire center, and be sure to check our parts and service specials to get a great deal!

Get Quality Tire Maintenance Now at Brookings Auto Mall!

Scheduling your vehicle for service here at Brookings Auto Mall in Brookings ensures that you’re getting quality maintenance, affordable tire inspections, and real-time consultation of any issues with your mechanical components. When it’s time to replace your tires, feel free to reach out to our service center to figure out what service will best suit your vehicle at the time, and take advantage of our service offers to get a phenomenal deal!


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