Tire tread, the grooves along the surface of a tire, becomes worn with time. This means reduced contact with the road, and greater danger of slippage in rain and snow. The United States Department of Transportation considers tires worn when tread is reduced to 1/16 inches deep. However, inclement driving conditions warrant greater tread depth. Treadbars are placed on a tire to indicate when it has reached 1/16 inches, but U.S. coins can also be used to quickly assess tread.
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Insert a penny into the tyre's tread with the top of Lincoln's head on the front of the penny toward the tire. If the tread covers any portion of Lincoln's head, the tread is at least 1/16 inches deep, the barest minimum required.
Insert a quarter into the tyre's tread with the top of Washington's head on the front of the quarter toward the tire. If the tread covers any portion of Washington's head, the tread is at least 1/8 inches deep, the minimum amount recommended for wet driving conditions.
Insert a penny into the tyre's tread with the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the penny's reverse side toward the tire. If tread covers any portion of the Lincoln Memorial, it is at least 3/16 inches deep, the minimum amount recommended for driving in snow.
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