How to make sure the tread on your tires are adequate before hitting the road this winter

treadFor most of the country, the worst of winter is still a few weeks off, and driving conditions have yet to become totally unbearable for performance car owners. A hot rod’s worst enemy is a slick road, and when the temperatures drop in some areas, streets become ice covered for entire months at a time.

If you try tackling a snow covered path on tires with little to no tread, don’t expect to get far without the help of a tow truck. In the few weeks you have left before the inevitable winter storm strikes your hometown, conduct a simple test to see that you have enough tread on your tires to get the car moving when driving conditions deteriorate.

For smaller cars, the minimum tread you need your tires to have for effective handling is 2/32″. To determine if you have at least this much depth, take a penny and place it in one of the front grooves of your tire with President Abraham Lincoln facing towards you. Roll the penny down the length of the tread so that the coin gets a full rotation. If some of the president’s face was covered throughout the process, then the tread of your tires is at least 2/32″, and you should be in good shape. Be sure to do the test on all four tires so that no weak spots fall through the cracks.

On the side of your tire you can read the manufacturer’s tread depth alongside the information displaying the recommended tire pressure. More weather-ready tires will require a tread of 4/32″, in which case you can use the same technique you would on smoother tires but employing a quarter. If Washington’s head is partially covered when it travels the perimeter of the tread, your tires are good for winter.

You can repeat the process if the tread measure is the more obscure depth of 3/32″. In this situation, use a penny again but this time flip the coin so that the Lincoln Memorial is facing you. Make sure that after a full rotation some part of the image remains hidden the whole time.

If your tires fail this simple test, avoid hitting the roads this winter without buying a new set. Do you have any other tips for drivers hitting the road this winter? Leave your comments below: