Your Dad told you, and his Dad told him…use a penny to see if you need to replace your tires! The problem is that the Lincoln test, although once a staple, no longer holds up to today’s standards and actually can lead to keeping unsafe tires on your vehicle!
The Lincoln penny tread depth test has been used for many years. The idea is that you put a penny upside down in the groove of the treat of your tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head is hidden by the tire tread, you’re good to go! Right? Wrong!
The idea behind the test is that a tire’s performance doesn’t really dip until the tire is around 2/32” of remaining depth. The problem isn’t that this isn’t true at all. Let’s go through why tread depth is more than just the amount of tread left for your tire.
Tread depth directly contributes to how well a tire does its job. When water collects on the road during a rainstorm, the depth of the water on the road, the vehicle speed and weight, the tires tread design, and tread depth are ALL different factors that determine when the tires will be forced to hydroplane (float on top of the film of water, losing contact with the road) and then how quickly the tires can stop your vehicle!
So why is tread depth so important? Tread wear affects how both the rubber tread and the grooves between them perform! How much it affects the performance might surprise you. Identical vehicles with 2/32” minimum tire tread depth (Lincoln Penny Test) usually take 100 more feet to stop than the vehicles equipped with 4/32” deep tires when stopping form 70 MPH. That’s a BIG difference that goes up on wet or slippery pavement.
Replacing your tires when “honest abe” tells you to may seem like the most economical practice, but it is far more expensive to repair your car if you can’t come to a stop quickly enough in an emergency situation! That’s not even talking about the risk accidents pose to you and your passengers! If you’re unsure, just have our experts check your tires! They don’t mind at all!
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