This change was made a few or more years ago but many of you may not have realized it. You’ve probably heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head instead. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Now, the industry has developed a more accurate method, and it just so happens it involves Abe’s buddy George.
There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
When talking about stopping power, drivers tend to focus on brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Motorists have to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.
Let’s focus on stopping in wet conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water. That’s called hydroplaning.
At Community Automotive Repair we want our customers to know that if it’s really bad, you can actually spin out of control. At best, you won’t stop as fast.
So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at a tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.
And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop on wet roads.
So that’s why it’s so important for drivers to replace the tires on their vehicles when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.
By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely worn out tire.
And that little bit of additional tread makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet roads. A safe stop from expressway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.
Of course, tires are a big ticket item for vehicle owners. Most of us want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.
Give us a call today or send an e-mail if you have questions about what tires we recommend for your specific vehicle. With multiple local partnerships, in addition to availability from Tire Rack direct, we have you covered.