The Penny Test: A Quick Way to Check Tire Wear

  The replacement of old tires is a common maintenance expense, one that also happens to be vital to your safety on the road. Knowing when they’re ready to be switched out isn’t difficult, but it does require a bit of knowledge about tire tread wear and one very simple trick.

Since tires are your only direct connection to the road, it’s important that they have a good amount of rubber on them to help the car handle corners, slick surfaces and any other imperfect road condition. It would be easy to tell you to change your tires at a certain mileage to maintain proper tire tread, but the fact is that the rate at which the tread wears depends on a number of factors, including driving style, vehicle weight and type of tire.

So how do you tell whether your tires are ready for a swap?


The “penny test” is one easy way to determine whether or not your tires need to be replaced. Simply stick an upside down penny, with Lincoln’s face toward you, into the tread on both the inside and outside of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head anywhere, the rubber has worn down far enough to warrant a new set of tires.