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How To Inspect Tires For Wear


Monitoring tire safety involves more than checking air pressure. Routine tire inspections will help you identify problems with tires and other important systems.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: varies

Here's How:

  1. Refer to your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. You might also find this information on a sticker in the glove box or on the driver's door jamb.
  2. Use a gauge to check the air pressure in each tire. Add air or deflate as needed to match the manufacturer's recommendation.
  3. Look in the grooves between tire tread for raised patches of rubber, 2/32" patches called wear bars. The patches will help you identify a worn out tire. In most states 3/32-inch is the minimum legal tread depth.
  4. If tread is worn to a level where wear bars are flush with the tread it indicates that tread depth is 2/32-inch or less. Replace the tires.
  5. If your tires do not have wear bars, place a US penny into a groove between treads, with Lincoln's head down. If the tread is at or beyond the top of Lincoln's head you have at at least 3/32-inch of tread left, a satisfactory level.
  6. Tread should wear evenly, so inspect each tire for unusual tread wear. A rounded edge on the inside and outside edges of tread could indicate under-inflation.
  7. The same wear pattern on front tires of front-wheel drive vehicles could indicate a need for more frequent tire rotation.
  8. Excessive wear on the center of a tire's tread could indicate over-inflation.
  9. Unusual wear that resembles a chopped or stair-step pattern could indicate worn shocks. Stair-step wear on the inside and outside tread of front tires on 4x4 vehicles may be normal.
  10. Excessive wear on the inside or the outside of the tread could indicate the need for alignment.
  11. Carefully check each tire for punctures, nails, damage, scuffs, and weather cracking. Repair or replace as necessary.


  1. Pressure stats printed on sidewalls indicate the maximum amount of air pressure tires should be inflated with, they are not recommended pressures.
  2. Check your owner's manual or ask your local tire dealer for tire rotation recommendations.

What You Need

  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • US Penny
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