How Low Can Tire Tread Go Before Tires Need to Be Replaced?

how to check tire tread

If your tread is getting low, but you’re not sure if it’s to the point that your tires need to be changed, read on!

Low tire tread is one of the most common warning signs that a tire is on its way out, so it’s important to make sure you monitor the condition. While our mechanics will keep an eye on it when you bring your car in for service, it’s a good idea to check yourself every now and again, as well.

How can you tell if your tire tread is too low?

First off, tires are measured in 32nd’s of an inch – 2/32” is equal to 1/16”, and as you can see from the example below, that’s pretty small. You need to have your tires replaced right away if the tread is only 2/32” or lower.

tire tread measurement in 32nds of an inch

New tires can start off with anywhere from 11-16/32” of tread depth more or less; and generally, when tread gets to about 4/32” (or 1/8” on a ruler), it’s time to start getting more frequent inspections from a pro.

Checking tire tread wear indicators

Even without precise measuring, you can check tread by keeping an eye on your tires’ tread wear indicators. These are small bars within the grooves of the tread that are located on several areas around a tire. Once the tread is down to the same level as the wear indicators, you should look into having your tires changed.

tire tread wear indicators

Using the penny test to check tire tread

You can also gauge if tires are ready to be replaced using the penny test (how-to video below), which is a fairly common way to visually inspect. Just stick Lincoln’s head down into the tread and if his hair disappears, your tires are likely still good. If you can see the top of his head, your tires are probably due to be changed.

Additionally, keep in mind that age is a big factor in tire health, as well. Factors like type of use and weather, such as our hot desert summers, can degrade tires. Even if you almost never drive and still have a decent amount of tread, Ford recommends changing tires every six years regardless of wear.

If you own an F-150, Fusion, Mustang or another Ford model and you’re looking for high-quality tires for sale in Houston, visit Joe Myers Ford in Jersey Village!

Categories: Service
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