How to Check Tire Tread Depth in Richmond

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I check tire tread wear?” and feeling like maybe it’s something you should know how to do already, don’t dismay. This is a common question we here at the Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Buick GMC Richmond service center get from drivers like you every day. And we’re here to provide answers so you can become a more informed and able DIY car maintenance savant! With that in mind, let’s delve into how to check tire tread depth together right now! If, for any reason, you have questions as you read, just contact us for additional help!

Is There a Recommended Tire Tread Depth for My Car?

Wondering what tread depth your tires should have to safely cruise around town in Henrico or hit the highway in Glen Allen? Well, new tires usually have a tread depth of roughly 10/32 or 11/32 of an inch (that’s about a third of an inch, for easy reference). That said, dedicated off-road tires found on some Buick, Chevrolet, GMC 4×4 vehicles — especially those with lift kits installed — not to mention winter tires often have deeper treads.

While there’s no “suggested” or “recommended” tire tread depth for your vehicle, the U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that when tires reach 2/32 of an inch, they ought to be replaced. In other words, you can legally continue to drive around Goochland and beyond so long as your tires have greater than 2/32 of an inch of remaining tread.

The above having been said, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will want to drive on tires with 3/32 or even 4/32 of an inch left. It all depends on the road conditions and weather conditions. For example, in winter conditions where roads can be icy or fall conditions where there may be slick leaves covering the road, you’re probably going to want tires with a little more tread depth. Buying dedicated winter tires you switch out seasonally can help make your regular tires last long and provide additional peace-of-mind!

Using the Penny Test to Check Tire Tread Levels

The U.S. penny makes it an ideal household item with which to measure your tire tread wear. Of course, using a dedicated tire depth gauge or ruler is more accurate, but even still, a penny will do when supplies are limited! So. How do you use a penny to check tire tread depth? Follow these steps:

  1. Insert a penny with Lincoln head-first into the tread groove on one of your tires.
  2. Look to see if Abe Lincoln’s head is covered (no longer visible) between the treads.
  3. Can you see Lincoln’s head fully? If so, unfortunately, that means your tire treads are 2/32 inches deep or less, and your tires are due for a replacement.
  4. Repeat this process on each of your four tires (and in multiple locations on each tire as well) since tires tend to wear unevenly, especially on AWD vehicles).

How Do I Check Tire Tread Wear with Other Tools?

With so many people nowadays using electronic payment methods and credit cards, there’s a chance you may not have loose change lying around to conduct the penny test. Not to worry. You can also use these methods to check tire tread depth:

  • Tire Tread Depth Gauge: For many Richmond drivers, the best, easiest, and most accurate way to check tire tread will be a dedicated tire tread depth gauge. This handy tool is inserted into the gauges and either provide an analog reading via a sliding “ruler” type measurement stick or a digital reading. Either way, this tool allows you to measure your tires accurately, so you stay compliant with the law and maintain a maximum grip on the road at all times. Plus, tire tread gauges aren’t too expensive!
  • Tread Wear Bars: Many new tires have built-in tread wear bars at certain locations in-between the treads throughout the tire. When the treads become even or level with these bars, it means it’s time for you to replace your tires because you’ve reached 2/32 of an inch of remaining tread.

Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Buick GMC Richmond is Here to Help with Your Service Needs

Whether you’re looking for help ordering car parts or more service tips & tricks, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Buick GMC Richmond is here to help you with all your car maintenance needs! Wondering what the answers to other common questions are, like “what are the best tires for a GMC Sierra 1500?” or “how often should I rotate my tires?”, we can answer all your questions! Contact us today with any lingering concerns, or visit our tire and service center in Richmond when safe and convenient!

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