Here are a few tips on checking tires for uneven and excessive wear. The tread depth, alignment, and overall physical condition of your car's tires can greatly impact stopping distances, traction, fuel mileage, and ride quality. Checking tire wear is an important part of your vehicle maintenance routine.
- Take a penny and put it in the center groove of the tire with Lincoln's head pointing down. If the tread goes past the top of his head, your tire has the legal amount of tread assuming even tread wear across the face of the tire.
- If the tread is equal with or not touching the top of Lincoln's head then you should consider new tires. The distance between the edge of a penny to the top of Lincoln's head is about 3/32 of an inch, the minimum legal limit for tread depth is 2/32. However, tires worn to this point can be a safety concern. It is best to consider new tires once the tread depth is approaching 3/32 of an inch, or when the tread is just slightly overlapping with the top of Lincoln's head on the penny.
- Checking tires for uneven wear and cracks. All tread should be about the same height across the face of the tire. The edges of the tire should be not be excessively rounded by wear. Tires with rounded edges can signify an alignment problem. There should be no large cracks or deformities in the tire. Cracks can be caused by age or exposure to the elements.
- Finally, inspect the tire for any foreign objects, damage, or punctures. Do not rub your hand over the tire because you could cut yourself if there is broken glass or a nail embedded in the rubber.
Tire Maintenance Tips
- Rotate your tires per the tire manufacturer's suggested specifications. When rotating your tires check for damage, rips, tears, and punctures. A tire with a nail in it may hold air indefinitely, but it should be fixed as soon as possible.
- Always make sure your tires are properly inflated according to the specifications on the sidewall of the tire. Under or over inflation will cause premature tire wear.
- Always have your new tires balanced and your car aligned on the same day you get new tires. This will increase the longevity of your tires and improve the ride of your vehicle.
- Legal Tread Depth: 2/32 of an inch.
- Minimum Recommended Tread Depth: 3/32 of an inch.
- Recommended Depth: At least 4/32 of an inch.