Tire wear bars, also known as tread wear indicator bars, are incredibly useful when it comes to assessing the condition of your tires in regards to wear. They’re one factor that’ll help you assess when you need new tires and if your current tires meet the legal tire tread depth requirements. If you’re curious about what wear bars are, whether or not you’ve got a safe tread depth, or just want to learn a few quick ways to measure tire tread wear, read on!
What Are Tire Wear Bars?
Tread wear indicator bars are small, raised bars found within the grooves of your tires between the tread markings. They are placed all around the tire at different points to measure how evenly your tread is being worn down.
The purpose of the wear bars is to offer a visual indication of
how much tread is left on your tires.
Tire tread helps stabilize your car in wet conditions, helps provide better traction and handling, and improve cornering. Without it, you might find yourself spinning out of control! That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your tires’ wear bars.
When the tread has worn down to the level of the wear bars, it’s time to replace your tires. This means you’ve reached the legal tire tread depth limit, and your tires are no longer safe to use. Most manufacturers may suggest replacing tires sooner to help keep you safer on the road.
One way to check the condition of your tread is to run your finger horizontally over the tire wear bars. If you feel the wear bar against your finger as evenly as the tread, then it’s time for new tires.
How to Check the Tread on Your Tires
If you're having trouble spotting a wear bar on your tire or you're unsure of what to look for, here are a few other ways you can check the tread on your tires.
The penny test is pretty simple. Take a penny and hold it with Lincoln’s head upside down. Place it inside one of the grooves between the tread. If Lincoln’s entire head is visible, your tread has worn down at or below 1/16 of an inch and should be replaced. If the top of his head is partially covered, your tires may still have some tread left.
If you frequently drive in wet conditions due to where you live or work, it’s a good idea to leave a little extra tread on your tires for safety. You may have to replace your tires a little more often, but helping avoiding an accident is worth it. In this case, you can check your tread level using a quarter instead of a penny.
Measure with a Tread Depth Gauge
If you want to get really precise with your tread measurements, you can use a tread depth gauge. These are available for a few bucks at most automotive stores. Alternatively, you can use a ruler with 1/16th inch markings or millimeter measurements. Just place the ruler into one of the grooves and measure from the base of the tread to its current level. Any tire that measures at or below 1/16 of an inch (1/16 inch = about 1.6 millimeters) should be replaced.
Get That New Tire Feeling
Are your tire wear bars telling you it's time for new tires? Bring your vehicle into your nearest Tires Plus for new tires that are the right fit for your vehicle! And when you purchase your new tires from Tires Plus, you'll get free rotations for life and the peace of mind that you got a great price on your new tires.