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Learn How to Check Tire Tread Depth

If your tires haven’t been performing very well on Raleigh streets, the treads may be worn down enough that you need to have new tires installed. Of course, you don’t want to make the investment prematurely, so you may ask, “how do I check tire tread wear?” The most accurate tools are a ruler or a tread depth gauge, but you can even use a penny if you’re in a pinch! Learn the different methods for how to check tire tread depth with Hendrick Kia of Cary down below.

How Low Can Tire Tread Depth Safely Get?

Fresh after installation, new tires have a tread depth of around 10/32 or 11/32 of an inch, which equals out to about ⅓ of an inch. This tread depth applies to most standard tires. If you opt for beefier off-road tires or winter tires with deep grooves, the tread depth when new may be closer to 14/32 or 15/32 of an inch.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch. It’s important that you stick to that number to ensure you have safe traction levels when you’re driving in Durham.

How Do I Check Tire Tread Wear With Just a Penny?

Even if you have nothing more than a penny on-hand, you can check your tire tread depth. Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Choose a tread groove and place the penny into it with Lincoln head-first
  2. Look at Lincoln’s head between the tread grooves
  3. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by the grooves, you still have some tread depth left. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible between the grooves, you’re at 2/32 of an inch or less and should have your tires replaced.
  4. To ensure accuracy, repeat the process in multiple locations on all four tires

It’s convenient to use a penny to check your tire tread wear while out and about in Apex, but if you can find a ruler when you return home, you should use it to confirm the tread depth. If you can stretch your tread depth even a little farther before replacing your tires, you’ll want to know so you can make the most of your investment.

How to Check Tire Tread Depth Using Other Tools

If you can’t find a penny or would like to find a more accurate way to measure your tire tread depth, consider the following tools:

  • Tread Depth Gauge – This convenient tool can be purchased online for around three dollars. There is a numbered inner component of the gauge, as well as an outer tube that has a probe on the end, which you will place into the shallowest tread groove. Just above the probe is a bar, which you will press down flat against the tire. The top of the outer tube will line up with a number on the inner part of the gauge –– this number is the tread depth.
  • Built-In Tread Wear Bars – Did you know that your tires probably have tread wear indicators built right into them? They’re called tread wear bars, and tire manufacturers stamp them into the bottom of the tread grooves at multiple locations across the tire. If the surrounding tire ribs and the tread wear bars are level with each other, then the tread depth is at 2/32 of an inch.

Find Affordable New Tires at Hendrick Kia of Cary

Tire replacement is made more affordable when you choose Hendrick Kia of Cary! We offer rotating service specials that often include tire rebates and additional savings on tire rotation and other maintenance. Check out what’s available, then schedule an appointment to have your new tires installed at our service center!

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