Of the various car parts that need replacing, having tires with enough tread is vital. Only one square patch of each tire makes contact with the ground to control driving, turning, and braking. This can mean life or death on a daily basis. Generally, you should replace your tires every four years. But, that can change depending on your driving style and road types. There’s a super simple trick for finding out when you need to get new tires. Just check the tire tread depth with the Penny Test.
Check Tire Tread Depth with the Penny Test
You don’t need any special skill to perform this test. In fact, you don’t even need to get your hands dirty. Better yet it only costs one cent, and that’s refundable. 🙂 Follow these steps. (Click here for a full-size printable PDF.)
- Get a penny. Make sure it is clean enough so you can clearly see Lincoln’s head (the president imprinted on the penny).
- Insert the penny into a groove on the tire, with the top of the head going in first.
- If you can still see the top of the head once it’s touching the base of the tire, it’s time to get new ones. If not, then you’re good for a while more.
Key Points to Keep in Mind When Replacing Your Tires
Make sure to perform this test on each tire. If your tires are not properly aligned and balanced, you may experience uneven wear on them. Also, too much or too little tire pressure can cause extra wear on the inner or outer edges.
When replacing your tires, always do so in pairs (i.e. both front tires and/or both back tires). Replacing only one tire will throw everything else out of whack. So, just don’t do it. When taking the car in to change the tires, do your research. Try to find a place that offers some kind of guarantee on the work and future balancing and alignment.
Remember, using the Penny Test to check your tire tread depth is only a guide. It will help give you an idea of when you should bring your car into an auto shop to check the tires and replace them. That is, of course, unless you are an awesome DIY mechanic type. But, then, you wouldn’t need to be reading this article. 😀 Otherwise, have fun checking that tire tread.