Ways to tell that your tires need to be changed

By Product Expert | Posted in Tips and Tricks on Friday, November 16th, 2018 at 8:00 am
person pointing at tire tread indicators with their finger

We’ve written in the past about how often you need to rotate your tires, and even the difference between all-season tires, winter tires and summer tires, but in this blog we wanted to look at a basic question: when should you replace your tires? There are a few ways to tell that your tires need to be changed. If you notice a lot of slipping when you drive, that may be a red flag that your tires aren’t holding onto the road, but most other ways to check if your tires are okay go back to one thing: measuring your remaining tire tread.

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When should you replace your tires?

The tread on your tires offers traction on the road, and also serves to give water someplace to go when you are driving on wet roads. Having tires that are too worn out can result in slipping and even hydroplaning. The depth that a tire’s tread starts out varies depending on the type and brand of tire, but all tires needs to be replaced when they get to 2/32nds of an inch. You should probably start planning for new tires when your tread is down to 4/32nds of an inch. Here are three ways to tell when that is.

person testing the depth of tire tread with a penny

The Penny or Quarter Test

The penny test is one of the time-honored ways to test your tread depth. If a person puts a penny in a vehicle’s tread with Lincoln’s head down, ideally the head would be completely covered. If Lincoln’s head is starting to show, or the tire is to the bottom of the head then it is time for new tires because the tread is probably at 2/32nds of an inch.

If you use a quarter, when the tire tread edge is just touching Washington’s head then you should start looking for new tires because the tread depth is at 4/32nds of an inch.

Tire Tread Measure

If you don’t want to mess with pennies and quarters and treads, then you can get a tire tread measure at any auto parts store (and might be able to get the staff at the auto parts store to check the tires for you the next time you need to get new windshield wipers). This little device is color-coded to tell you if your tired tread is good, on the edge, or in the red.

Tread Wear Bars

Another way to tell if your tires need some help is built right into your tires. There is a wear bar worked into the tire design somewhere in the open areas of the tread pattern. It will look like a little strip of tire significantly lower than the rest of the tread. When the wear bar becomes even with the rest of the tread pattern it is definitely time to get new tires.