The tread on her tires is a an essential piece of steering safety and performance. Every one of those knobs, shapes, patterns and grooves have actually a an unified purpose. They provide the tire its capacity to fixed the road, accelerate, brake and also corner — and even aid maximize fuel economy. Together the rubber on the tread wears away, for this reason does the tire’s effectiveness. Keeping an eye on her tire’s tread depth is a critical part of routine automobile maintenance.

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What is Tread Depth?

Tread depth is a vertical measurement indigenous the height of the tire’s rubber come the bottom the the tire’s deepest grooves.

As you journey on her tires, the rubber that provides up the tread — and also the really thing that provides you traction — wears down. End time, your tires will come to be less effective at gripping the road. Tires have the right to lose your footing long before they"re worn out, and, if a tread has actually worn down as well far, lock could come to be a serious safety and security issue.

The cheat is to no let it obtain to that point.

Tread Depth through the Numbers

The tire sector standard because that tread depth in the United states is measured in one thirty-second of an customs (1/32") increments (millimeters are supplied in nations observing metric standards).

New tires typically start with a tread depth that 10/32" come 12/32", through some off-road tires topping 15/32". Brand-new tire tread depth is the measurement generally published by tires manufacturers, however it’s not the very same as usable tires tread depth. Most states and also tire manufacturers take into consideration tires to be bald once one or an ext of your grooves space worn down to 2/32". So, if you begin with a new tire tread depth that 10/32", the actual usable tread depth is 8/32".

When tires wear down to 2/32", they’ve reached a suggest at i m sorry they’re can not to fulfill the challenges linked with steering on wet, slushy or snow-covered roads. They also become prone to heat damage in hot weather and also are prone to flats, punctures or complete failure early to any type of or all of these hazards. In various other words, as soon as a tire’s tread depth is 2/32", that time to get brand-new tires. Nothing wait.

For those who typically drive in rain or snow, you may want to consider shopping for brand-new tires for your auto or truck when the tread depth is closer to 4/32".

How to measure up Tread Depth

Measuring tread depth routinely is a simple and effective means to help ensure the your tires deserve to still grip and also stick to the road, maintaining you safe. There space a pair of easy means to do this.

A tread depth gauge is the many accurate way.

Tire tread depth gauges can be discovered online or in ~ your local auto components store, and also they are straightforward to use. The best means to measure her tread depth is come stick the probe right into the shallowest groove on the tire, push the shoulders that the probe flat versus the tread and also then review the result.

All gauges need to measure both in the 1/32" United claims standard and also in millimeters.

If your gauge measure reads:

6/32" or higher: her tire’s tread depth is sufficient.5/32": If snow-covered roads are a concern, friend should take into consideration replacing your tires.4/32": If you frequently drive on wet roads, consider replacing your tires.3/32": that time to start shopping for new tires. They are close to gift worn out.2/32" or lower: her tires space legally bald, and it’s time to replace them.

If friend don’t have actually a tread depth gauge handy, part U.S. Coins can be provided to almost right wear on tires in the crucial last 32nds that an inch of their staying tread depth. A penny or a quarter can work, relying on how conservative you desire to it is in or if you typically drive in merganser or snowy roads.

Here’s just how it works:

Place a penny with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you right into the shallowest groove ~ above the tire. If every one of Lincoln"s head is visible over the tread, you have actually only 2/32" or less tread depth left and also your tire has actually reached the end of its useful life.


For those that drive in the rain or want an earlier warning the replacement time is coming, use a quarter. Location the quarter v Washington’s head upside down and facing you into the shallowest groove. If every one of Washington"s head is visible over the tread, you have 4/32" or less tread depth remaining.


If you’re into routine tread checks as much as we are and just want to see how well her tires room wearing, Lincoln can assist here too. This time, ar a penny with the Lincoln Memorial upside down and also facing you. If the peak of the Lincoln Memorial is visible above the tread, you have actually 6/32" or less tread depth remaining. It’s no time come panic, yet it’s a good idea to continue to examine your tread regularly.


Indicator bars also permit you to monitor tread wear. U.S. Federal safety standards need that tires tread patterns include 2/32" tread wear indicators across their tread, in the grooves. Tires are taken into consideration worn out when the tire’s tread pattern has actually worn also with the indicator bars.

Please note that, because that those control on winter tires, tread depth dimensions follow a different set of replacement thresholds. Top the manufacturer because that recommended tread depth measurements and replacement schedules.

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Tread depth is important. Tires in ~ or above the encourage tread depth offer you far better traction in all species of driving conditions. Plus, checking your tread depth ~ above a continuous basis provides a an excellent opportunity to check your tires for other indications of disadvantage wear or damages as well, such as cracks, bulges or cut in the tread or sidewalls. If you’re ever concerned around your tires for any type of reason, it’s always a an excellent idea to have actually them inspected by a professional.