When to Replace your tires
Even if your budget is tight, don’t scrimp by putting off the replacement of worn tires. An excessively worn tire compromises your driving safety.
Even if your tire tread isn’t yet worn to the legal limit of 1/16 inch that’s common in most states, tire performance can be significantly degraded, especially in wet and snowy conditions.
When we tested tires with tread that was still half of the original depth, about 5/32 inch, the car took longer to brake on wet surfaces and had an 8 percent drop in hydroplaning resistance and 15 percent less overall snow traction.
A good time to start shopping for replacement tires is when the tread is still about 1/8 inch deep in any one groove.
To gauge this, insert a quarter in a tread groove with Washington’s head facing down. If you can see George’s hairline, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. If you do this with a penny and can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires have reached the legal limit and are due for immediate replacement.
To get the most mileage out of your tires, check the pressure once a month when the tires are cold. Proper inflation pressures are usually listed on a placard inside the driver’s doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door. Underinflated tires can overheat, cause premature wear, and increase rolling resistance, which hurts your car’s gas mileage.