A Washington quarter, placed upside down in the tread grooves at several points, is a handy gauge for safe tread depth. You’re o.k., by George, if the tread covers part of his head.
To be legal in most states, tires must pass the Lincoln penny test, a minimum tread depth of 2/32 inch. You’re o.k. if the tread covers part of Abe’s head. If not, it’s time to replace your tires. Honest.
Manufacturers also place wear bars in the grooves between tire treads. Replace your tires when the treads are flush with the bars.
The Bald Truth
Remember, with bald tires your car takes longer to stop, even on dry pavement. On wet pavement, you might not be able to stop. Here are some tips for buying replacements:A new set of tires will repay you with better control, confidence, and in some cases improved gas mileage. There are as many replacement tires as there are cars, and they vary widely in terms of tread design, performance, and price. Luckily, there are easy ways to get the information you need to make a smart purchase decision, including specifications printed right on the tire.
Select a Tire That Makes the Grade
To help consumers compare tires, the federal government requires manufacturers to grade tires in three categories: Â treadwear rate, traction performance, and temperature resistance.**If your daily commute racks up big mileage, pay special attention to the UTQG treadwear rating printed on the side of your tires. Choose a tire rated 300 or better.If you often drive at highway speeds or tow a boat or trailer, the UTQG temperature rating is important. Overheated tires can cause blowouts. Select an A-rated tire.