Does the Penny Tire Tread Test Really Work?

Ask several people the titled question and you’ll get several different answers. Generally, the penny tire tread test can give you a basic idea of where your vehicle’s tires are at in terms of wear. Mike’s Auto Service & Repair wants to stress, however, that this is a very general guide; you shouldn’t rely on it completely. Let’s talk about the penny tire tread test and alternative testing methods.

The Penny Tire Tread Test

In case you didn’t already know this, the penny tire tread test uses a penny as a tread gauge to see if your tires are okay or need to be replaced because they are getting bald. You take a penny that is new enough to see President Abraham Lincoln’s head clearly and insert the coin between your tire tread rows. With the head-side of the coin facing you and the top of Lincoln’s head pressed into the tread rows, you read the measurement based on how much of Lincoln’s head you can see. Tread covering his head is a good read; seeing all of Lincoln’s head means the tire tread is too worn.

This Isn’t Full Proof

As we said in the introduction to this blog post, this isn’t something that you should rely on completely, however. The tire tread depth law in Massachusetts requires all tires on all automobiles to have a tread depth of at least 2/32-of-an-inch, and Honest Abe will be honest about that. If you see all of President Lincoln’s head, your tire tread depth has worn down past 2/32 inches and your tires are now illegal. The problem with accuracy comes when part of the president’s head is covered. What’s the tread depth measurement then and how long until you need new tires? Enter additional tests.

Some people believe that using a quarter for the test is better than a penny. The same concept applies. If you see all of President Washington’s head, you need new tires. Still, this doesn’t give you an accurate reading, which can be helpful if you’re budgeting for a new set of tires. The best way to test the tread on your car, truck, or C/SUV’s tires is to use a tire tread gauge that you can buy at an auto parts store. If you maintain your tires, i.e. have them rotated every 6,000 miles, you don’t even need to do that. A tire tread depth measurement and inspection is part of our tire rotation services.

Just bring your vehicle into Mike’s Auto Service & Repair in West Springfield, MA, and we’ll let you know how much tread your tires have left.

Call Mike's Auto Service & Repair at 413-737-7806 for an appointment today!

Photo by knowlesgallery from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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