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Tire maintenance cannot be overlooked. Proper upkeep extends the life of your tires, and more importantly, keeps you safe on the road. Everyone knows you have to regularly check tire air pressure and keep your wheels properly inflated. But when was the last time you checked your tire treads? If it’s been awhile, you can try these tricks to measure your tire tread at home.

Why you should measure tire tread

Tire treads provide traction for your vehicle, so they are vital for safety on the road. They provide a void where water can escape during wet conditions, which keeps your vehicle from hydroplaning. They also allow movement in the tread blocks to create traction. These are tire tread measurement guidelines:

  • If your tread is 4/32 inches deep or more, you are in good shape.
  • Once your tread reaches 3/32 inches deep, you’re going to want to watch them closely. Plan on having your tires replaced soon.
  • A measurement of 2/32 means you should replace your tires immediately.

How to measure tire tread at home

It’s easy to check on the condition of your tire treads and ensure they are 4/32 inches without going to a mechanic. Here are three ways you can do it from the comfort of your own driveway.

The quarter test

Take any U.S. quarter and place it between your tire treads. Roll the coin until the top of George Washington’s head is inside the tread. If any part of Washington’s head is covered you are in good shape. That means you have at least 4/32 inches left on your tire tread. Repeat this process in various treads on all of your tires.

The penny test

This test uses a U.S. penny to measure tire tread. Put the penny into the groove of the tire, and roll it until Abraham Lincoln is standing on his head. If you can see his entire head, this means it’s time to replace your tires. If any portion of Abraham Lincoln’s head is covered, it means your tires are in good condition and you can drive safely with them.

The treadwear indicator bar

Did you know most tires are manufactured with a built-in measurement of tire tread? It’s called a treadwear indicator bar, and they’re located in random places inside the grooves of your tires. If the tread wear indicator bar lines up with the adjacent ridge in the tire, your tires are worn out and need to be replaced right away.

A tread depth gauge

If you prefer not to use coins or examine the tires up close, you can use a tread depth gauge purchased at your local auto parts store. These handy gadgets let you measure tire tread in just a few seconds. Place the gauge inside any tire tread and push down. Carefully remove the gauge and you will have an accurate measurement. Be sure to do this on several different treads on all four tires to determine the condition.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the place where your vehicle meets the pavement. Tires with proper tread provide safety and security by helping you avoid accidents. With these simple tricks, you can easily measure tire tread at home.