How to Check Tire Tread Depth

close up of tire tread

A common question that North Charleston drivers will ask us is “How do I check tire tread wear in my car?” If you’re curious about how to check tire tread depth yourself, to make sure that your tires aren’t close to failing, you’ll be able to find out with our service center today. We’ve broken down a full guide for you, to make it easy for you to find out everything you need to learn today. Our service experts are here to help answer all the questions you might have about your vehicle’s maintenance, from how do you check tire tread wear, to how to change your oil and so much more. 

What is the Recommended Tire Tread Depth? 

Most tires sold at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet, and most other locations, come with a tire tread depth of 10/32 to 11/32 of an inch (or right around a third of an inch). Snow tires, as well as larger tires have deeper tread grooves. While there’s really no recommended tire tread depth to drive on at any time, there is a legally mandated depth. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that if your tread depth is 2/32 of an inch, you are legally required to change your tires. Why? Because at that treat depth, tires begin to lose much of their traction-holding capacities, which results in greater chances of hydroplaning, wheel slippage, and vehicle collisions. This is why it is advised for Mount Pleasant and James Island drives to bring their vehicles into Rick Hendrick Chevrolet as soon as they notice their tire treads are getting too low. 

The Penny Test for Checking Tire Tread at Home

While using a ruler is undoubtedly the most accurate way to check tire tread depth, in a pinch, a penny will do just fine. The design of the U.S. penny makes it the ideal household tool with which to measure your tire wear. Follow these steps to check the tread depth remaining on your tires:

  1. Insert a penny with Lincoln head-first into a tire tread groove.
  2. Observe if Lincoln’s head is covered and no longer visible between the grooves.
  3. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, that means your tire treads are 2/32 inches deep or less, and it’s time to replace them.
  4. Repeat this process on all four tires and in multiple locations on each tire.

How Do I Check Tire Tread Wear Using Other Methods?

If you don’t have a penny available to use to check your tire tread with, then you’ll want to use one of these methods instead:

  • Tread Wear Bars: Most tires offer built-in tread wear bars. You’ll often find them at the bottom of the tread grooves in multiple locations across the tire. If the bars are flush with the tire ribs that surround them, that means it’s time to replace your tires.
  • Tread Depth Gauge: One way to check your tire tread wear without a penny is with a tread depth gauge. In fact, this is about as accurate if not more so than a penny, making a depth gauge a great investment.

Find Out More Service Tips with Rick Hendrick Chevrolet

If you’re ready to bring your vehicle in to our service center, you’ll be able to schedule service easily from the comfort of your own home. But, if you’re not quite there and just want to make sure that your vehicle is still as healthy as possible, you can browse our selection of service tips and tricks for more ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly. 


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