How to Use a Penny to Check Your Tire Treads

How to use a penny to check tire treads

Hurricane season has ended in Hawaii, but the rainy season is still here to stay. What this means is that everyone will need to remain extra careful and vigilant while driving on the roads. Regularly inspecting the overall condition of your tires is very important for the safety of your family and those around you. One way to do this is to use a penny to check your tire treads.

Out of the 50 states, Hawaii has the 9th worst traffic in America. Furthermore, there are erosion and potholes on many roads due to the tropical weather deteriorating the materials used in the asphalt. With these conditions in mind, having good traction is an absolute must to be able to maintain control at all times and avoid accidents.

3 Simple Things You Can Do To Inspect Your Tires

1) Invest in a tire gauge and regularly check your tire pressure to be sure it’s at the maximum recommended level.

2) Inspect the side-walls of your tires for any visible wear, cracks or damage.

3) Check the wear of your tires’ treads to make sure they still have enough on them to prevent hydroplaning.

How to Check the Treads on Your Tires with a Penny

To check the depth and wear of your treads, I suggest a technique my father once taught me a long time ago. At the top of one of your wheels, you insert a penny with Lincoln’s head going into the tire grooves. If part of his head is not visible or hidden in the groove, your tread level is still good. Should the top of his head be visible or is sitting on the tread line, the tire is wearing down in that section. When there is space between the top of his head and the tread line, then that means that the section is dangerously worn down. You will want to check various sections of the tire with the penny to get a sense of the overall wear. This includes checking the middle section, as well as the inside and outside shoulders of each tire.

This penny technique reveals more than just the actual wear. It also reveals other issues you need to be aware of. 

Interpreting The Wear

1) Worn in the middle section = suggests driving on over-inflated tires

2) Worn on the outside shoulders = suggests driving on under-inflated tires

3) Worn on one shoulder or the other = suggests issues with shocks, bushings or springs

Speaking of air pressure. Maintaining proper air pressure not only keeps you safe, but it also saves you a lot of money in the long-run. Fully inflated tires will maximize your car’s gas mileage and increase the lifespan of your tires. Don’t be caught off guard during your next safety inspection or routine service check. Make it a habit to regularly check the condition of your tires to prolong the life of your wheels, to stay informed, and be able to take advantage of upcoming tire sales.

The moral of the story is that it only takes a penny to keep your family safe. So use a penny to check your tire treads and save hundreds or thousands of dollars. More importantly, it could save a life, which in itself is priceless. As the old Michelin Tires slogan said, “…so much is riding on your tires.”

Visit the “Things to do” section of this blog to discover some fun places and events to take the family.

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