The Penny Test

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are about 11,000 tire-related car accidents every year. For the safety of yourself and your passengers, it is important to be cognizant of your tires’ wear and tear so you know when to replace them. To determine whether or not you need to replace your tires, Real Deal Tires recommends you consider the following:

1) Age of the tire

While the US Department of Transportation does not have any specific guidelines for tire aging, there are two common tire lifespan dates (5 and 10 years) that should be considered.

  • How to identify tire age
    You can determine the age of your tire by checking the identification number on the sidewall of the tire. Just look for the letters “DOT.”  The last four digits that follow these letters represent the week and year the tire was manufactured. 

  • What to do when your tire ages
    5 YEARS
    The lifespan of tires for the typical American driver is five years. Consequently, it is good practice to have your tires inspected by a professional automotive technician at the five-year mark.

  • In addition to the actual manufacture date of your tires, other factors such as high cold and heat level can lead your tire to age more quickly. This is something those who live in extreme clients should take into consideration.

2) Tire Tread

In the United States, tire tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. Most U.S. states have laws that require drivers to replace their tires when they reach 2/32” of remaining tread depth.

To measure your tire tread, you don’t need a fancy tool or your own personal automotive shop. There are, instead, several at-home ways you can measure the wear of your tires without having to consult a professional.

  • The Penny Test

    Insert the penny head down in any crack in the tread of the tire (make sure Lincoln’s head is facing towards you). If the top part of Lincoln’s head is visible, you have less than 2/32″ left on your tread and you need new tires.

  • The Quarter Test
    Insert a quarter into your tread groove head down into your tire tread.  If you can see all of George Washington’s head, your tire tread has worn down and RDT strongly suggests you replace your tire(s).

  • Tread Bar Test
    If you don’t have any change on hand, you can look at your tread wear bars on your tires to determine if they meet the 2/32” requirement. These bars are there to help you monitor tread depth and help you to make an informed decision about tire replacement.

    The bars are located at the bottom of the tread grooves in several locations around the tire. If the tread is even with the indicator bars, it’s time to replace the tire.

3) Tire Damage

Pot holes, debris, and many other factors can damage your tires. If you see any visible damage to your tire (e.g. a flap of rubber is hanging off) or your tire is flat and cannot be repaired, it’s probably time to replace it. It is important to do this as soon as possible, as spare tires are designed to be used “spare”-ingly. They are not intended for long time use (less than 70 miles and under 50 mph), so it is important you replace them as quickly as possible.

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