Check for Tread Wear

Good Thinkin’, Lincoln: How to Use the Penny Test to Check for Tread Wear

Tires are one of the most important safety features of your vehicle yet one element that we as owners often forget to care for. At Automotive Training Center (ATC), we know a simple trick for checking whether your tires are due for a switch.

It’s called the Penny Test, and in this blog post, we’ll review how to use it and our friend Abe Lincoln to tell whether you need new tires.

Before we dive into the Penny Test, though, let’s get a little background on tread wear and what it means for your tires.

Tire Tread 101

penny test tiresA tire’s tread is the area around the circumference of the tire where (literally) the rubber meets the road. The more miles you add to your tires, the more the tread surface wears down.

When tires become too worn, they lose their ability to safely grip the ground and maximize traction. Tire tread that measures 2/32 of an inch or less falls below the industry-accepted designated depth.

The Penny Test

1. Place a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down into several tread grooves across the tire you’re evaluating.

2. What do you see?

a. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, there’s more than 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining. Your tires are good to go for more mileage.

b. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are worn past the 2/32-inch limit and your current set needs to be replaced.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to complete the Penny Test for the rest of tires on the vehicle.

A Few Frequently Asked Tire Questions

How long does a typical tire set last? The average tire life span runs between three and four years but will vary from one vehicle to the next.

What can you do to extend the life of your tires? The best way to ensure that your tires last three, four, even five years or more is to keep up with routine maintenance for your vehicle. That means bringing your car into the shop to get the tires rotated and balanced every time you get an oil change (between 5,000 to 8,000 miles on average).

What does a tire rotation and balance entail? During a tire rotation and balance procedure, a technician will remove the tires from their original locations and replace them in either a linear switch, X, or crossover pattern to ensure that the tires wear evenly.

Find Out More About How Technicians Handle Routine Service

Automotive technology students enrolled at ATC get to know, practice, and master the procedures associated with routine vehicle service. If you’re intrigued by what happens on the shop room floor, you’ll definitely enjoy our free enthusiast’s guide that goes through the steps required to change a car’s oil, rotate its tires, inspect the brakes, and much more.

Download How Automotive Technicians Handle Scheduled Vehicle Service today!
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