How to Measure Tire Tread Depth

Bad tire state and health are known causes of accidents. It is important to check tires every month to ensure they are suitable for short or long journeys.

An accurate and reliable gauge, coin, and other measures are used for knowing the tire tread’s depth. Checking the depth of the tread of the tire is an important aspect of knowing its functionality. There is a legal requirement for minimum tread depth that’s maintained for the tire. Tire pressure should follow the recommendations of the manufacturer.

However, you should also check the overall state and condition of your tires from time to time and should look for any bulges/cuts that are an indication of structural damage.

In extreme cases of deterioration, the tires may require a replacement. Tire repair may be sufficient in other conditions. In this case, see how to measure tire tread depth to avoid such maintenance.


The Importance of Depth of Tire Tread

The ability of the tires to form a grip on the road will reduce substantially if the tire tread depth falls below a certain limit (for instance, 3 mm). Checking your tire tread once every month can ensure that your tires are suitable and safe for long and short journeys and trips. You may also be fined and penalized legally if the tread of your tired depth falls below the regulatory limit. In many countries and states, the legal limit of tire tread depth is 1.6 mm or above. Therefore, if the tire tread has a depth of less than 1.6 mm, you can be fined legally. This limit is for vans, cars, and LCVs. However, for vehicles that exceed 3.5 tons (such as trucks), the tread depth limit is 1 mm and above. The minimum tread depth limit for motorcycles (above 50 ccs) is 1 mm.


Checking the Depth of Tire Tread

Many different tests and methods are used for checking the tire tread depth. If the tread depth is 2/32 inches or below, you must immediately replace the tire. If the depth is somewhere near 3/32 inches, you should be replacing the tires soon. However, the tire is in a good state if the depth is 4/32 inches or even more.


Penny or Quarter Test

A penny can be used to check a tire’s depth of tread. All you need to do is to insert a penny into the tread and the groove. If Lincoln’s head is visible, the depth of the tread has fallen below the standard of 2/32 inches. You should replace the tires now. Similarly, you can insert a quarter into the groove of the tread. If the tread can touch the head of Washington, there is enough tread remaining.


The Bar Indicator

You can also check the health and state of your tires even when you do not have any coins. Most tires manufactured today have a bar indicator used to know the extent of tread wear. A tire may have a bar indicated at multiple places and instances. They are visible in the bottom section and area of the tread grooves. If the bar is flush with the ribs of the tires visibly, the tread depth is 2/32 inches or less. At this stage, the tire is replaced.



Both “digital” and “analog” tire tread depth measurement gauges are available to judge a tire’s tread depth at a certain time. These measurement devices have a probe/needle that can be inserted within the tire’s tread to know its current depth—using a gauge (whether manual or digital) can provide a more accurate measurement at any time. It can also be a simpler process. However, a tread may not be evenly compromised in its tread depth. Therefore, you need to take a few measurements at different spots and calculate the average of it to find out the average tread depth of the tire.

Maintaining a good state and health of tires is important for preventing accidents and avoiding fines and legal issues. Such a fine and legal penalty may not only involve expenses and cost but may also adversely impact your driving history and state of driving license. Measuring tires’ tread depth is an effortless process that you can carry out using specialized tools like gauges or even coins. You can also carry out a monthly check-up at a leading and reputable garage for car repair and maintenance. Expert service providers will check all issues with your car and will also reveal to you the current state of your tires every month.


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