Penny Test Tires – Everything You Need To Know

Penny Test Tires – Everything You Need To Know

The condition of the tire treads is an important part of your driving. If they wear out too far, then you could be in for a slippery drive which clearly is a dangerous state of affairs.  Luckily you can tell just when to replace your car tires using the penny test tires strategy.

When your car’s tire treads are in good condition the tires are able to grip the road. This becomes especially important when driving over slippery or wet conditions such as on snow or ice. Lacking a good grip in such instances can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Replacing your tires with new tires can be costly. But it’s well worth the investment. Not only do you significantly improve your vehicle’s handling and grip, but you also ensure a safer driving experience.

Furthermore, you also prevent damage to other vehicle components that come as a result of excessive strain caused by worn-out tires.

Let’s take a closer look at the penny test tires method. For easier navigation throughout this post, you can use our table of contents below.

Tire Penny Test

Tire tread depth in the United States is often measured in 32nd of an inch. For most cars, new tires will be 10/32” and 11/32”. For larger wheels such as those on trucks and SUVs, the total tread depth will be deeper than this.

According to the US Department of Transport, tires should be replaced when the depth goes down to 2/32”. A lot of states in America will also require tire replacement once this tread depth has been reached. And this is where the penny test tires method comes in.

Using just a penny, you can tell if your tire tread depth has reached 2/32” and whether it requires to be replaced.

To use the penny test tires strategy, take the penny and place it such as both its head and tail are in a horizontal position. In this position place the penny between the treads of your tire with the Lincoln head facing downwards.

If the top of Lincoln’s head goes under the treads, then your tires are still in driving condition. However, if you are still able to see the top of Lincoln’s head, then the depth has significantly reduced, and it’s time to replace the tires.

Not only should you use the penny tests on all tires, but it is also important to check different areas of your tires. You may find that your tires are worn out in some parts more than others. In this case, you will need to replace the tires.

If you notice that your car tires are wearing out unevenly, then it’s important to take your vehicle to the mechanic and have it looked at. Uneven tire wear could be a sign of misalignment or issues with your car’s suspension.

Tire Tread Depth

Your car’s tires offer the point of contact between the car and the ground. If the tire tread depth is not optimum, your car may slide whenever you brake. This could cause potentially dangerous situations not just for drivers but for pedestrians and other drivers on the road.

This is because the tires will not be able to offer a good grip. Imagine breaking on slippery, snowy, or wet ground. Obviously, your car’s braking time is increased.

This is when it is important to always check the tread depth. Treads are the raised sections on your tires that offer grip. The optimum tread depth for cars includes 10/32 inches or 11/32 inches.

As you drive your vehicle, the tires will wear out and the tread depth will decrease. Once it reaches as low as 2/32”, then the tires will no longer be able to offer sufficient grip and your car’s control will be impaired.

Driving your vehicle on any wet or snowy ground when the treads are not at their optimum depth increases braking time as the tires aren’t able to grip the road. Reduced tread depth also increases the chances of aquaplaning which further increases braking time and reduces grip.

It is important, therefore, to regularly check the tire tread depth and to drive slowly on wet and slippery roads.

Tire Tread Gauge

The penny is one common way of measuring the depth of your car’s tire treads. It is used and comes in handy when the tires approach the end of their life. However, the conventional method is through using a tire tread gauge. This gauge measure up to 32/32”. After all, most tires will have a tire tread depth of less than an inch.

This is how to use a tire tread gauge.

Step 1: Check The Measuring Scale

There are tire tread gauges that measure in 32nd of an inch and others measure in both 32nd of an inch and in millimeters. In the US you want to go for the gauge that has a measuring scale in 32nd of an inch.

Step 2: Zero Out The Gauge

It is important to ensure that the tire tread gauge has zeroed out before you can measure the depth of tire treads. You can do this by pressing the gauge against a hard surface and ensuring that it has zeroed out. This ensures accurate measurements.

Step 3: Using The Gauge

To start using the tire tread gauge, push the scale inside of the gauge and ensure it goes the furthest that it can.

Step 4: Use The Probe

Place the probe into the groove of your car’s tire treads and push it as far as it will go.

Step 5: Avoid Placing The Probe In The Wrong Place

And the wrong place is the molded tread wear indicator as well as on a raised surface of the tread.

Step 6: Take Out The Gauge

You can do this by holding the barrel and taking the gauge. Avoid touching the probe. Then take the measurements.

Step 7: Repeat The Process

Repeat the above steps on different sections of your tire treads. You can separate the sections by taking the readings every 15 inches or so.

Step 8: Different Circumferential Grooves

As you take the reading on different sections, make sure to also place the gauge probe on both the inner grooves and the outer circumferential groves.

Step 9: Take The Average

Here we mean taking the average of all the readings to get an overall idea of the condition of your tire treads.

Step 10: Identify The Condition Of The Treads

You can do this by comparing the average readings on the condition of brand-new tire treads. This will help you determine the percentage of wear and tell you how far or close the tires are to the end of their life.

Keep in mind that there are several factors that could cause inconsistent tire wear such as misalignment, loose parts, issues with the suspension as well as loads.

By using a tire tread gauge you are able to identify such inconsistencies in the tire wear and correct them before they can cause more serious damage to other car parts.

Tire Wear Bars

Another way to tell the condition of your tire’s wear and tear is by using tire wear bars. These are also called tire wear indicator bars.

Using tire wear bars, you can identify how much your tires have worn out and whether you need to replace them with new tires. You are able to tell if you are within the legal limit of the tire tread depth.

Let’s find out more about the tire wear bars and how to use them.

Understanding Tire Wear Bars

Tire Wear Bars

Tire wear bars are small bars that are inside the groves of your tires. They are found all around the groves and their role is to help you identify just how much wear is on your tires. They allow you to quickly and easily see the wear in your tire treads.

Keeping an eye therefore on your car tire wear bars can help you identify just when you need to replace the tires. Worn-out tire treads could cause you to lose control and cause an accident.

To use the tire wear bars, you need to check if the tire treads have worn out down to the tire wear bars.

If the wear bars have started to get touched by the road, then it’s time to replace your tires with new tires. In fact, manufacturers and dealers will advise that you replace your car tires sooner than this. This will help ensure you are always driving on safe tires.

Another way you can tell that it’s time to replace your car’s tires is by running your fingers on the tire treads around the wheel. If you feel your fingers touching the tire wear bars, then this is a clear indication that the tired has worn out and that you need to get new tires.

Minimum Tire Tread Depth

Tire Tread Depth

The legal limit for tire tread depth is 2/32. Now, this doesn’t mean that you are able to safely drive your vehicle if say your tread depth is 3/32”.  2/32” is just the point at which the car will not pass the safety inspection.

It is critical that your tires have sufficient depth in their treads as they are coming into contact with the road. A lack of good tread depth will result in sliding and can cause a potentially dangerous situation.

Some of the downsides of low tire tread depth include sliding on a slippery road, increased chances of a puncture, increased fuel consumption, and reduced braking distance.

Where you live will also determine the best tire tread depth to replace your car tires. For instance, if you live in an area that receives plenty of snow and rain, then you may want to replace your tires once they reach 4/32”.

Any less than this and you are at an increased risk of aquaplaning. This is when the vehicle tires ride on top of the water surface instead of being in contact with the road.

In such an instance, you may find that the car slides sideways and the steering system doesn’t do much to control the vehicle. As a result, you can find your vehicle is stuck in a ditch or worse.

On the other end of the spectrum, keep in mind that hot roads will cause your tires to wear out faster. You will therefore need to check the tread depth and replace the tires quickly if you notice that they are close to the legal requirements for tread depth.

Tire Tread Replacement Depth

The best way to know whether your car’s tires need to be replaced with new tires is to take your car to the auto mechanic and have them inspected. That said you can also use a tire tread gauge or the penny test tires method to tell whether the treads are worn out.

The tire tread depth according to the legal requirements is 2/32 inches. When the tires reach close to this limit, it is important that you have them replaced ASAP.

It is important to also check the tires for any irregular wear and tear. In case there is uneven wear, then this is a sign of a different problem that needs fixing.

You may also want to figure out the type of damage that needs you to replace the tires and the type of damage that needs you to repair the tires. This will help you make the most of your car’s tires and extend their life thus saving you quite a bit of cash.

Often evaluating the tires simply requires you to visually inspect them. You may want to start out with the tire treads which are the parts that are in contact with the ground.

Ensure that there is enough tire tread and that it is not worn out too much. Check also that the tires are wearing out evenly and that there is no uneven wear on the surface. Most tires will also feature wear bars which help you determine the extent of the wear.

These wear bars are located in different locations between the tire treads. When the treads are at the same level as the wear bars, it is a good sign that they are at the end of their life and you need to replace them with new ones.

Tire Wear Indicator

tire wear

The tires are an important part of your car. Unfortunately, many people do not give their car tires the attention they deserve. Car tires play an important factor in determining the overall driving condition, fuel efficiency, and car performance.

When it comes to car safety, many people automatically think about the car’s safety bags. Granted the safety bags play a huge role in the car’s overall safety but another crucial part of the safety equation is the car tires.

If the tires lack the necessary grip on the road, they will slide whenever you hit the brakes. The car may also get out of control whenever you are driving. So how can you tell that your car’s tires have worn out and need replacement? For that, you will need to check the tire wear indicators.

Penny Test Tires – Understanding The Tread Wear Indicator

The role of tires is to provide good traction on the road and thus provide your car with optimum performance.  Between the treads of the tire, you will notice lines. Those lines dispel water and help keep the car tires in contact with the road.

Between the grooves of the car tires are the car tread wear indicators. These are also known as wear bars and are placed at certain locations in the tire. If the tread surface of the tires is on the same level as the tread wear indicators, then you need to replace the car tires.

It is advisable to inspect your car treads every 2-4 months. That said, you will also need to check the car treads when planning a road trip or a long journey or even if you often drive the car under uneven and rough terrain.

Tire Wear Patterns And What They Mean

The tire wear patterns can tell you when it is the right time to replace your tires. They will also tell you about the condition of other parts of your car.

By undertaking the different tire wear patterns you are able to diagnose certain issues with your car. Let’s take a look at some of these tire wear patterns that you need to be familiar with.

Penny Test Tires – Tread Wearing At The Middle

Among the more common types of tire tread wear patterns is where you notice that the car’s treads are wearing out at the center more than on the sides. This is an indication that the car tires are overinflated and that you need to reduce the tire pressure.

Over inflating your car tires means that the car is riding at the center of the tires and that the pressure is not reaching all parts of the tires. Always ensure that you add the necessary inflation for your car tire.

Penny Test Tires – Tread Wearing At The Sides

If you notice that your car’s tires are wearing out on the sides more than they are wearing out on the center, then this is a good indication that the tires lack the right level of inflation.

A second reason why your car’s tires wear out at the ends and not mainly at the center is due to a lack of balance in the tires. Again not having sufficient levels of pressure could cause the tires to be unbalanced.

The solution is to ensure that your car tires are filled with sufficient air pressure.

Penny Test Tires – Feather Edge Wearing

The feather edge tire wear pattern occurs when one edge of the car’s tires wears out while the other edge appears lifted. This is often caused by misalignment and could be a result of excess negative or positive camber.

Another pattern that is similar to the feather edge tire wear is the toe-out tire wearing. This is caused by excessive negative or positive camber and is another sign that the car wheels are misaligned.

You can identify the toe-out wearing where the treads on the edge of the tore take on a saw-like texture.

Penny Test Tires – Tire Wear On the Shoulders

You may notice that the shoulders of your car’s tires wear out more on one side than the other. The reason for this is the caber. Camber refers to the outer or inner angles of your car wheel when looking at it the front or back.

A positive camber angle is when there is excessive pressure on the outer edge or shoulder of the car wheel. Negative camber is when the car wheel leans inside causing the inner shoulder of the tire to wear out.

Positive or negative camber is often common with modified vehicles, vehicles that carry heavy loads, or vehicles that have a faulty suspension.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Penny Test For Tires

This is a quick and easy method that you can use to test the tread depth of your tires and determine if your car tires need replacement. It works by placing the penny with the Lincoln head facing downwards. If the Lincoln head fails to disappear into the grooves of the tires then it’s time to replace the tires.

How To Do The Penny Test On Tires

Take a penny and place it in the grooves of the car’s tire treads. Make sure the head side and the tail side of the penny are facing horizontal while the Lincoln head is facing downwards. If the Lincoln head disappears within the grooves, the tire treads are above 2/32” and you don’t need replacement. If the Lincoln head fails to disappear then the tire treads are under 2/32” and you need to replace the car tires.

Is The Penny Test For Tires Accurate

The penny test tires method has been used for a long time by drivers to tell when they should replace their car tires. However, the penny test tires method isn’t the most accurate way to determine the tire tread depth. For that, you will need a tire tread gauge.

What Is Tread Depth On New Tires

New tires often have a tread depth of 10/32 inches and 11/32 inches. This is the optimum tread depth for grip and handling. Over the course of driving, the tire tread will wear out and the tread depth will go down. If it goes down to 2/32” then it’s time to replace the tires as they will not have grip.

What Do Tire Treads Do

Tire treads help to provide your car with grip on road surfaces and ensure that the car doesn’t slide or lose control. Treads also have grooves that allow water to pass through and help keep the tire in contact with the surface of the road. This help prevents the tires from slipping over wet surfaces.

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