Recommended Tire Tread Depth

June 1st, 2016

As residents of Northeast Ohio, we are no strangers to wet, icy, and snowy road conditions. Even with advances in tire technology, and routine visits to your local Tire Source to maintain and prolong the life of your tires and vehicle, not understanding the importance of proper tread depth on your tires can lead to challenging driving conditions. In fact, even tires that are at half the depth of when you first purchased them begin to increase your likelihood for challenging driving conditions.

What's the Big Deal About Tire Tread Depth?
When your tires are on a dry road surface, they can easily grip and stay connected to the road surface. With snowy or wet conditions, those treads are a vital component to how your tires maintain adequate contact with the road. Treads exist to improve contact with the road and to push rain, water, or snow through the groove of the tread.
Legal Minimum Tread Depth
Most tires are sold with a tread depth of 10/32" to 12/32" of an inch. Many state laws require tires to have a minimum tread depth of at least 2/32" in order to be road legal. Many tires have wear bars built in so it is easy to spot how and where tread life is beginning to diminish. If you're not sure at what depth your treads currently are, read on, as all you are going to need are a couple of coins.
How to Measure Tread Depth, Dry Conditions
First, grab a penny and rest it in one of the treads. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered, you're right at the legal minimum tread depth of 2/32". If Lincoln's head is not covered, it's time to replace that tire or tires immediately. Not only are you outside the legal minimum, your traction is greatly diminished.
How to Measure Tread Depth, Wet & Snow Conditions
At Tire Source, we know that 2/32" is the minimum tread depth for perfectly dry and arid conditions. We frequently get rain and snow in Northeast Ohio, however, and often in sudden, torrential downpours. For wet and snow conditions, we recommend a minimum of 4/32" tread depth.
To see if you hit this minimum for tread depth in wet and snow conditions, you'll need a quarter. Place the quarter in several treads. If the top of Washington's head is covered, great! Otherwise, just like with the penny test, we strongly recommend replacing your tires. In wet and snow conditions, tires must be able to displace water and snow through the treads. If they are unable to do so, they will simply hydroplane on top of the water and snow.  This condition is only exasperated at faster, highway speeds.
Does Your Vehicle Have the Recommended Tire Tread Depth?
If you're unsure if your tires at least meet minimum tread depth, visit your local Tire Source! We will be happy to help you evaluate your tires, and if needed, assist you in purchasing new ones. And remember, our customers receive lifetime rotation and balance service with any tire purchase!