While a pocket full of pennies and quarters may not be enough to pay for new tires, it's plenty if you're looking to do tire tread tests. Sometimes, you can glance at your tire treads and immediately see that they're worn—but in most cases, it's something that's quite difficult to assess without a test. Grab some spare change and get ready to do two simple tire tread tests that can let you know if your tires are in good condition.
A Penny For Your Tire Test
A penny test is a great way to test for low tread on tires, and it's especially good for tires that may be either borderline or bald. To do this test, simply turn the penny down, with the head towards the ground. Keeping the penny in that position, place it directly in the groove.
What you want to see: you want to see Abraham Lincoln's head well buried within the groove. This means you've got enough tread (2/32 of an inch or more) that you're no in immediate need of new tires.
What you don't want to see: seeing all of the head means the tires are bald or nearly bald and that it's too dangerous to drive. Seeing most of the head means you need to get to your tire shop soon.
The Tire Test Quest Using a Quarter
You'll need just a single quarter for this test. The quarter test is especially good at checking tread levels when you have lots of tread, but it can also help reveal borderline tread levels.
As with the penny test, make sure that the head on the coin faces down. Keeping the coin in this position, place it in a groove and then check on how much of the head you can see.
What you want to see: if the head is mainly buried, your tire tread is good (4/32 of an inch or more) and it's likely that your tires are still fairly new.
What you don't want to see: if you can see Washington's whole head, you may still have enough tread to drive safely, but it's a warning sign that your tires are likely borderline. If you get this result, you might want to switch to the penny test to determine whether it's actually safe to drive or not.
When you do these tire tests, make sure that you check several different areas of each tire. Alignment problems or other issues may cause uneven wear, so you can't assume that one tire tread test is valid for all the tires—or even for that whole specific tire. If your tire tread tests reveal that it's time to get new tires, don't delay in getting to the tire shop today.