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Measuring Tire Tread Depth

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Important Tread Depth Standards:

According to Tire Industry Association (TIA) standards and most states' laws, if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch in any tread groove, the tire must be replaced.

Similarly, Sonsio specifies in the Terms and Conditions of all of its programs (including all Road Hazard and Tire & Wheel programs) that if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch anywhere on a tire, that tire is no longer covered by the program.

The Penny Test:

U.S. pennies can be substituted for a tire tread depth gauge to help you estimate the remaining tread depth of a tire. When a penny is placed head first into a large tread groove of a tire, the top of Abraham Lincoln's head is 2/32" from the bottom of the groove. (See "The Penny Test" image below)

If the top of Lincoln's head is always covered by the tread of the tire, you have more than 2/32" of tread depth remaining. However, if the top of Lincoln's head is visible and is not covered by the tread of the tire, you have 2/32" or less of tread depth remaining and need to replace the tire.

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3 Important Tips for the Penny Test:

  • Always hold the penny vertically in the tread groove. Holding the penny at an angle in the tread groove could easily result in an inaccurate measurement of the tread depth.
  • Always check the tread depth of several different areas on the tire, especially in any areas that look lower than the surrounding areas. The tire will need to be replaced if there is any spot on the tire that has a tread depth of 2/32" or less, even if other areas still have more than 2/32" remaining.
  • If you find any part of the tire that has a tread depth of 2/32" or less, perform the Penny Test on the other tires on the vehicle. More often than not, you will find that at least one of the other tires will fail the Penny Test and will need to be replaced as well.

REMEMBER: Sonsio specifies in the Terms and Conditions of all of its programs (including all Road Hazard and Tire & Wheel programs) that if tire tread depth is at or below 2/32 of an inch anywhere on a tire, that tire is no longer covered by the program.

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***DISCLAIMER: While this webpage can be informative about topics that are related to tire claims, this is intended to act as a general guide for informational purposes only. Final claim determination will ultimately rest with Sonsio personnel who will carefully evaluate each claim on an individual basis.***