The Penny Test for Tires: What it is and Why it’s Critical for Tire Maintenance

After months of prolonged lockdowns and desolate highways, the total number of miles driven across the U.S. surged in March 2021 compared to the same time last year, according to new data from Metromile. As driving behaviors start to return to pre-pandemic levels, it’s important that drivers pay close attention to the maintenance they neglected over the last year, beginning with the very thing that hits the road: your tires. We’re breaking down the importance of tire maintenance and the preventative measures you should take before hitting the road – starting with the simple penny test for tires. 

The Importance of Tire Maintenance

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, your tires may not always be top of mind. If they’re inflated, you should be good to go, right? Wrong. 

According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tires are at least partially responsible for nearly 11,000 traffic crashes per year. To make matters even worse, of these crashes, it’s indicated that 200 resulted in fatalities. 

Your tires play a major role in the functioning of many other parts of your vehicle. From the brakes to alignment, gas mileage, and even how your car handles on the road, ignoring the current state of your tires can wreak havoc on the rest of your vehicle. 

Start By Checking the Tread

Given the NHTSA estimates on tire-related accidents, it is clear that a substantial amount of damages could be prevented with adequate tire maintenance. So where to begin? 

Start by checking your tire’s tread levels. Without sufficient tread, your car struggles to properly grip the road – proving to be especially dangerous if you live in a snowy or wet climate. Once tread wears below optimal levels, your vehicle is more prone to slipping and sliding, creating dangerous conditions for yourself and other drivers on the road. 

The Penny Test for Tires

Now that you have a better understanding of tire tread, track down the nearest penny (yes, penny). The penny test for tires is one of the simplest yet effective ways to check the current level of tread on your tires. By following these three simple steps, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re safe to keep driving or if it’s time to head to the dealership for service. 

  1. Place your penny into a tread groove upside down. In other words, your penny should be placed onto the tire headfirst. 
  2. Examine the part of the penny that’s showing. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, your tread is shallow. 
  3. Repeat this step in several different grooves of the tire. If you continue to see the top of his head, then it’s time for a replacement. 

With all this to be said, you may be thinking: why a penny? Well, the distance between the top of a penny and Abe’s head is 2/32 of an inch (approximately 1.6 mm), which happens to be the legal requirement for tire tread in most states. So not only may you have extreme tread wear, but you could potentially be breaking the law. 

The Technology Keeping You Treading for Longer

Car maintenance can be a pain, but thanks to our digitally advanced world, technology is making it easier than ever to take the preventative measures needed to keep your vehicle on the road for longer. 

Elo GPS and CarRx is a mobile application that helps you take the stress out of vehicle maintenance. CarRx allows you to manage the health of all of your vehicles from the convenience of your smartphone. Once configured into your vehicle, the system automatically scans for issues every 15 minutes while your vehicle is on and will send you a notification if anything is triggered. It also helps you keep track of and monitor your vehicle’s most crucial safety components, such as oil and battery levels, windshield wiper conditions, and of course, tire tread. 

Know your vehicle’s condition before venturing out on your next road trip and conveniently schedule any needed service at the dealership directly in the app. 

Get Started with Elo GPS and CarRx

The importance of proper tire maintenance simply cannot be ignored. Treadwear, misaligned wheels, and improper inflation are just a few of the tire-related problems that can result in serious accidents resulting in injury or even death. Thankfully with advanced technology, taking care of your tires and your vehicle’s overall health can be attained with minimal effort. CarRx was designed to help you stay up-to-date on all your vehicle maintenance needs and avoid severe and costly vehicle issues. To learn more about CarRx or to get started today, contact our team to find a dealer near you.