ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Checking Your Tires Made Simple: Safe Tread

Updated on February 23, 2012

This article provides basic step-by-step instructions and common tire knowledge for checking Tire Tread Depth, and it's intended primarily for those who have no experience in this area.

Tire Tread

The tread of a tire is the pattern on its rubber circumference that makes contact with the road. Tread provides contact with the road surface to enable the best response time for turning, stopping, and acceleration. They are designed with deep groves called sipes that pull water away from the tread to help keep it in contact with the road and prevent hydroplaning. Tire tread that is in good condition will quicken response time and accuracy, as well as increase your safety.

This tire has uneven tread wear, likely from an alignment issue.
This tire has uneven tread wear, likely from an alignment issue. | Source
Wires may protrude from any point in the tread, depending on wear.
Wires may protrude from any point in the tread, depending on wear. | Source

Visual and Hands-On Inspection

There are several things to examine when your checking the tread of a tire for safety. The first thing to look for is uneven tread wear. Uneven tread wear is commonly caused by an alignment issue with the vehicle, but can sometimes be caused by driving with the tires improperly inflated. If the problem has been there for a while, it will be easy to spot.

1.Starting with the outside of the tire, inspect the outer edge of the tread for smooth bald spots where the tire has worn unevenly with the rest of the tread, or where the tires wire bands are being exposed.

2.Then, you can carefully slide your hand to the inside edge of the tire tread and feel for wires protruding, and smooth balding spots on the inside.

If either of these problems are present, the tires need to be changed immediately. At this point, the tires are unsafe to drive with or on.

* Note, If only the inside of your tread, or only the outside of the tread on all tires is worn, it is recommended you have an alignment done on the vehicle. This same implication and recommendation applies if the tires are worn only outside on one side of the vehicle, and inside on the other side of the vehicle.

*Note, If the tires are worn in the center of the tread only, this wear is likely caused from driving with the tires over inflated. If the tires are worn on both edges of the outside of the tread, it is likely caused from driving with the tires under inflated.

For More Information About This, Please Read:

Checking Your Tires Made Simple: Air Pressure

This picture shows measuring tread with a Euro-coin. A penny can be used as well.
This picture shows measuring tread with a Euro-coin. A penny can be used as well. | Source

Tread Depth; 2/32" Inch Rule

Most Passenger Tires start with about 7-9/32" inch of tread , and 10-17/32" inch tread for LIght Truck Tires. In most states 2/32" inch of tread is considered " illegally low". It is required of most tire manufacturers to have low tread indicators on their tires called wear bars. This indicator is molded into the tires tread, from inside to outside and connects the tread pattern. When the tread becomes even with this wear bar, your tires have reached 2/32" inch, and its time to replace them.

The Penny Trick

If you do not have a tread depth gauge, you can measure the tires tread depth to see if it has reached this critical point by using a penny. With the penny upside down, place it into the groove of at least 3 points across the tread of the tire ( the inside, middle and outside) . If Lincolns head is at all covered by the tread, you have 2/32" or more tread. If it is not covered, you have less than the legal limit, and it is time to replace them. The performance of your tires handling and safety are greatly reduced at this point.

Example of Tread on a Directional Tire
Example of Tread on a Directional Tire | Source
Example of Tread on a Directional Tire
Example of Tread on a Directional Tire | Source

Directional Tires

Directional tires are usually performance tires, and are commonly found on luxury and high performance vehicles. The tread on these tires were designed to function a certain way with the performance of the vehicle they are on. They have a specialized tread pattern that has directional sipes.

Most tread patterns on directional tires point the direction they should be facing. It would resemble and arrow in the design, pointing to the front of the vehicle.

Also, you can also find arrows on the sidewall of the tire that will tell you which way the tire should be facing.

For obvious safety reasons, it is important that the tires are installed in the right direction, all of them.

A Myth About Tread

Often, inexperienced people will have incorrectly inflated their tires and it have caused uneven tread. Most commonly, people tend to try to fix this problem by doing the opposite of what caused the problem to begin with.

An example being, the tires had been over inflated which caused the center of the tread to wear down. To remedy this, people often then under inflate the tire so that they have more tread making contact with the road. Although in theory, this works, it can often cause more damage than good, and if the tire is already showing signs of wear in the middle, it will continue to wear down faster than the rest of the tire regardless of what is tried. The best solution is to inflate it properly to get the most out of it, or have it replaced if it the damaged arera is lower than 2/32" inch.

For More Simple Information Please Read These Related Articles:

Checking Your Tires Made Simple: Flat Tires (How determine if a flat can be safely repaired, and how to install a spare tire.)

Checking Your Tires Made Simple: Sizes, Ratings and Design (How to figure out your tire size, speed ratings, and what types of tires are right for your vehicle, etc.)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Abdul Wahabone profile image

      Abdul Wahab 

      6 years ago from Yanbu Al-Bahar, Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia

      Thanks for sharing this informative hub........

    • samurray profile image


      6 years ago from Marion, OH

      I learnt this from my Dad and Grandpa and it's always good information to know especially if a person doesn't know what to look for. Thank you for putting this article on here for those who don't know.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)