Tire Penny Test: The Best Way To Measure Tire Tread With A Penny

By David Barlow
Last updated: Nov 27, 2022
penny tire test tread

When the treads on your tires wear down, you could be in for a bumpy ride—literally. Fortunately, the tire penny test is a straightforward practice that you can do on your tires. All you need to do is open your pocket, then grab a penny, then you can know your current tire tread level. However, what is the secret behind this simple test? How to use a penny to check tire tread? What presidential coin can you use to roughly determine proper tire tread depth? Continue reading to learn more!

When To Replace Your Tires?

Regardless of your driving tires – winter (or snow) tires or all-season ones, the worn and bald tread will significantly affect your car safety and traction. Tread functions as a great tool in protecting your rubber against adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or ice. 

That’s why you have to check your tire’s tread regularly and make sure that the tread is above 2/32″ level. When your tread gets this low, you are not only at risk but also against the law. Accordingly, the legal standard regards car tread higher than 2/32″ level as safe for driving on the road. 

How To Measure Tire Tread With A Penny?

This practice doesn’t require complex tools or expert knowledge; the only thing you need here is just a penny, and let’s get started with the following Lincoln penny tire test

penny tire test
Measure Tire Tread With A Penny

To get the most accurate measurement result, you first have to identify the probable position of the coin. Place the penny with Lincoln’s head upside down and face the shallowest groove of the tire. Whenever you forget about the penny test, use this special rhyming memory aid: Head into the tread. This saying is proved to be true most of the time. 

The tire tread penny is already in your car head; let’s check what you see. Here is some standard level you could see as a reference:

  • If you see Lincoln‘s chin and nose or perhaps his chin, nose, and eyes, that’s a great condition.
  • If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are alarmingly shallow and worn. 
  • If you could see all the tip-top of his head, then your remaining tire tread is just 2/32″ or less of the tire tread remaining. It is high time you get a new set of tires.

Why Checking Tire Tread Depth Is Important? 

When the result of your tire tread coin test is at the required penny tread depth, your car can grip the road safely. This is crucially practical when you are driving on less ideal surfaces like snowy or wet. 

When your tread is shallow, you are more likely to slip and slide the tire, which causes a highly dangerous situation for you and other drivers on the road. Besides, worn tires can cause some effects on other parts of your car. They will be prone to wear prematurely as your car experiences increased strain. That’s why doing a penny tire test is an easy but great practice you should not miss! Despite causing small faults sometimes, this check is still helpful as it implies your alarming car tread.

David Barlow

Automotive Experts at World Tire Review

Hi everyone, I’m David (Tireguy). I believe that finding tires can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration for almost every driver. That’s why I would like to bring my experiences and knowledges to develop World Tire Review blog, it will give people a deeper understanding of what choosing the right tire is really like!