Ensure Optimal Tire Performance With These Simple Tread Depth Measurement Tips

Tread depth is a crucial factor in tire performance and safety. Whether you’re a professional driver or just someone who uses their vehicle for everyday errands, it’s important to ensure your tires always perform optimally. Checking the tread depth regularly is a necessary component of this.  

Even while you can take your car to a professional to have this done, it is not that difficult to do it yourself at home with only a few steps. So keep reading for our tips on how to measure the tread depth ensuring your tires are in top condition.


What Is Tread Depth and Why Is It Important for Tire Performance?

By definition, tread depth is the measurement of grooves in a tire that helps with traction and water or slush displacement. It is measured from the base of the tread grooves to the tire’s surface and is typically in millimeters (mm). Professionally, we use a tire tread depth gauge to measure accurately the amount of tread left on the tire to ensure the safety and optimal performance of the vehicle. But for basic, at-home DIY checks, you can use any type of ruler or measuring tape that has millimeters marked on it.

The depth of the tires’ treads differs from vehicle to vehicle, but safety standards and regulations require that the treads of car tires are at least 1.6mm deep or 2/32 of an inch across the center of the tire.This is because adequate tread depth ensures optimal grip between the tires and the road in wet and dry conditions. Without enough tread, the risk of hydroplaning increases, as it is more difficult for water to escape from between the tire and the road. Thus, less tread depth can make it difficult for the vehicle to brake, turn, and accelerate properly.

How to Measure Tread Depth on Your Own Tires

Measuring tread depth is a simple process you can do yourself in just a few minutes. You can do any of the following:

1. Use a Ruler or Measuring Tape

The easiest way to check your tire tread depth is to take a ruler or measuring tape with millimeters marked on it and insert it into the tire groove. Make sure that the ruler touches both the walls of the grooves and measures from the base of the tread grooves to the tire’s surface. If your tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch across the center of the tire, then it’s time to replace them.

2. Tread Depth Gauge

If you want a more accurate tire tread depth measurement, use a tread depth gauge. These are easily available in any auto parts store and are quite inexpensive. Some gauges have a needle that sticks into the tire’s grooves and reads out the depth on a small display. You can also do the same to other treads on the tire, like the shoulders or sides, for a more comprehensive check. This is because these areas have less traction and are more likely to wear down faster.

3. Penny Test

The penny test is an easy way of checking your tire’s tread depth. All you need to do is insert a penny into the tire’s groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are due for replacement.

4. Check the Tire Tread Wear Indicator

Most modern tires have wear indicators molded into the tread pattern. These are small raised sections of rubber that sit level with the tread at a specific depth (usually 2/32 of an inch). Once the treads wear down to this level, it is time to change the tires.

Indeed, there are a few easy ways to check your tire tread depth at home. It is important to ensure you do this regularly to stay safe on the road and maximize the life of your tires. If you feel uncomfortable measuring your tire tread depth, or if the measurements indicate that you need to replace your tires, it is best to take your vehicle to a professional for an inspection and tire replacement if necessary.

Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire since you never know when you might need it. If you’ll be taking a long road trip, it is always wise to check the tread depth of your tires, including the spare tire, before you embark to ensure a hassle-free journey.

What To Do if You Find That Your Tread Depth Is Too Low

If your tire tread depth is too low, it’s time to replace them. Be sure to do this as soon as possible, as driving on tires with insufficient tread depth can be extremely dangerous. There are a few indicators that will let you know if the treads of your tires are starting to wear down and need to be replaced. These are as follows:

  • Bulges or blisters on the sidewall: These indicate that the tire’s internal structure is weakening due to age or heat and should be replaced.
  • Uneven tread wear: This means that the tires are not properly aligned or balanced, causing premature wear.
  • Thumping sound from the tire: This is likely because the tread is worn down too low, where it is no longer gripping the road properly and needs to be replaced.
  • Bumps in the road feel more pronounced: This could cause worn-down tires, as they no longer provide good grip on the road. The treads can no longer absorb the bumps and road vibrations, making you uncomfortable while driving.

The Benefits of Keeping Your Tires in Good Condition

Keeping your tires in good condition with the correct tread depth has a few benefits that’s why it is important to check them regularly. This outweighs the cost of replacing them, and it is beneficial to ensure that your tires are properly inflated and have the correct tread depth. Below are some of the benefits that come with keeping your tires maintained:

  1. Having properly inflated and well-maintained tires can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. If your tires are under-inflated, they will require more energy to roll and, thus, use more fuel than necessary.
  2. If you have the correct tread depth, you will have better traction, which is important for maintaining control of your vehicle. It’s also safer to drive in wet weather since the treads help to remove water from the tire and make contact with the road.
  3. Having tires with the correct tread depth helps reduce noise levels while driving, as the treads help absorb the vibrations from the road.
  4. Well-maintained tires also extend the life of your vehicle by reducing wear and tear on the suspension components.
  5. You can also see improved handling and brake performance with tires with good tread depth. This is especially important in emergencies, as the tires can grip better and stop faster.

Final Thoughts

Checking your tire tread depth is an important step in vehicle maintenance. The frequency of this depends on your driving habits and the conditions of the roads you drive on. Some roads are more prone to wear and tear on your tires, so it is important to check them regularly.

Even as simple as checking your tire tread depth, it is still a good idea to take your car to a professional for regular inspections and preventive maintenance. They will be able to detect any potential issues and advise you on when it is time to replace your tires. So, make sure to stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance, and surely, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.