Topic: Tire Tread Depth
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The tread depth remaining on your tires is extremely important for safe driving, especially in rainy winter conditions. The purpose of all of those grooves in your tires is to allow a place for the water to go, allowing the higher part of the tire surface to come directly into contact with the pavement. If the grooves are very shallow, the water cannot escape and your SUV will tend to either skid easily or hydroplane (the car actually starts traveling on top of a layer of water, just like a boat). In this case, there is no contact at all between your car and the highway. Your ability to stop will be seriously diminished.

Check you tires regularly for tire tread remaining. You can do this by glancing at the tread (green arrow in top photo and red arrows in bottom photograph). The tire shown in the top two photographs is fairly well worn. You can use a penny as shown in the top photograph to check your tread depth. The distance between the top of Lincoln's head and the edge of the penny (red lines shown) is approximately 1/8". This is approaching the legal minimum tread depth in many states. Put the penny in a groove, with the Lincoln head down (yellow arrow). If you can see any space between the top of Lincoln's head and the edge of the penny, you should seriously consider replacing your tires.

Now look at the third and fourth photographs. These show a tire that is fairly new. Notice in the third photograph that the penny rests deep inside the tread of the tire and notice that Lincoln's' head is not even visible!

Note in the fourth photograph that the tread groves are deep. Also note that the edges of the tire are even and unworn, unlike the second photograph above. When you buy new tires, do the penny test to get a sense of your starting point and then do the test every several months thereafter. And look your tires over thoroughly every month to assure there is no uneven tire wear, wear that might indicate over inflation, under inflation, or vehicle alignment problems.

For 200-300 pennies you can buy a tire tread depth gauge (below). The stem (red arrow) is placed down in the tire grooves and the depth is shown by the gauge (green arrow).
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