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How to Check Tire Tread—3 Simple Ways

A simple yet often overlooked way to maintain your vehicle’s performance is by regularly checking the tread depth on your tires. Worn treads affect your vehicle’s ability to handle or brake properly, and also can have a negative effect on your fuel economy.

Stateline Nissan wants to make sure drivers in East Providence, Cranston, and Pawtucket always remain safe while on the road and get the best performance out of their vehicles. This guide will give you three easy ways to check your tire’s tread depths so you can avoid a tire-related accident.

What Do Healthy Tire Treads Look Like?

Tire treads refers to the part of the tire that makes actual contact with the road. Deep grooves help the vehicle grip the roadway and make steering and braking more effective. In the US, tire treads are measured in 32nds of an inch, so a healthy tire tread depth should average around 10/32nds or about 1/3 of an inch. If you have snow tires, the treads will be a bit deeper.

The more miles you put on your vehicle, the more your treads will naturally begin to wear down. A brand-new set of tires should on average last around 50,000 miles, so when you begin coming close to that number, make it a point to regularly inspect your treads. To better gauge when you should replace your tires, follow this general rule –

  • 4/32 inch or deeper = Tires are in good condition
  • 3/32 inch = Replace tires soon
  • 2/32 inch or less = Tires are bald. Replace them immediately

Bald tires are dangerous and driving on them can earn you a ticket in most states. Bald tires significantly decrease your vehicle’s stoppage power and a “blow-out” could send your car careening off its course resulting in a serious accident. Checking your treads is so easy that a child can do it, and here’s three of the easiest ways you can check the condition of your own tires.

Treadwear Indicator Bar

A quick way to check tread depth is to look at the indicator bars that are molded in-between your tire treads. The bars are located at the bottom of the tread grooves and when they become visibly flush with the ribs of the tire, it means it has no more than 2/32 inch of tread remaining. You should immediately have the tires replaced.

The Penny Test

Having trouble locating the indicator bars? No problem! Simply take a penny and insert it into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing upside-down. If you’re able to see all of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are nearly bald and should be immediately replaced.

The Quarter Test

If you don’t have a penny handy, a ($0.25) quarter will also do the trick. Just like with a penny, insert the quarter so that Washington’s head is upside-down inside the tread groove. If the tread obscures Washington’s forehead, you have a healthy tire. If the tread just touches the top of his head, you have about 4/32 inch remaining and should consider replacing them soon. If his head is fully exposed, replace immediately.

Thorough and Friendly Service Guaranteed

We here at Stateline Nissan are committed to empowering drivers in the East Providence, Cranston, and Pawtucket area with the best information to keep them safe and their vehicle in excellent condition. Now you understand the importance of taking care of your tires and if you can see it’s time for a service appointment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our helpful team to schedule an appointment.