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Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true #4100446 05/18/16 08:08 PM
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jimbrewer Offline OP
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Dealer told me it's time to change tires. 3/32. Top of Lincoln's head goes below groove.

These are stock all season radial Hankooks.

Is the penny thing still true? Was it ever true?

Last edited by wwillson; 05/18/16 09:49 PM. Reason: subject clarification
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100452 05/18/16 08:14 PM
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Eddie Online Sleepy
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I go by the wear bars between the treads which is 2/32 unless I'm heading into the rainy season then I change at 3/32. I think the penny measurement was used before the wear bars were mandated and molded into all auto tires. Ed


2014 CX5 Touring 2.5L :-)
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100454 05/18/16 08:14 PM
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Rand Online Content
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you are probably ok for a few months if there is no rain.

if rain.. then yes you need new tires asap.

2/32 is legal.


2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 2.0T
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100466 05/18/16 08:30 PM
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slacktide_bitog Offline
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The penny dimensions haven't changed, Lincoln's head is still the same size and position, and the legal definition of worn is still 2/32, so it is still true smile

You can probably wait a week or two for the Memorial day sales, which would be the best time to get tires.

Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100486 05/18/16 09:05 PM
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MinamiKotaro Offline
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Oh, TIRE wear. The title was very confusing.


1967 VW Beetle: Delo 15w40/ST4386
2004 Saturn Ion: Magnatec 5w30/DW5436
2014 Polaris Ranger 570: Delo 5-40/Wix 51356
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: MinamiKotaro] #4100498 05/18/16 09:26 PM
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Tegger Offline
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Originally Posted By: MinamiKotaro
Oh, TIRE wear. The title was very confusing.

Dat fo' sho'. At first I thought the thread had to do with the latest fashions for firemen.

They'd better not ever replace old Abe on the penny. Diligent tire-checkers would be lost forever.


2013 Toyota RAV4 - 88,000 miles - Toyota 0W-20, Toyota filter
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100556 05/18/16 10:43 PM
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Astro14 Offline
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2/32" is the legal limit.

Below 4/32" rain performance is degraded.

Below 6/32" snow performance is degraded.

http://www.tirerack.com/winter/tech/techpage.jsp?techid=163

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=85


32 Packard 15W40
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Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100576 05/18/16 11:17 PM
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Kuato Offline
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Originally Posted By: jimbrewer
Dealer told me it's time to change tires. 3/32. Top of Lincoln's head goes below groove.

These are stock all season radial Hankooks.

Is the penny thing still true? Was it ever true?


You WANT the top of Lincoln's head to be in the groove...it's when his head doesn't go in the groove that your tires' tread depth is insufficient.*




* That said, use your best judgement in replacing tires.

Last edited by Kuato; 05/18/16 11:18 PM.

Thick vs Thin test: 15k / 43k miles complete
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100584 05/18/16 11:43 PM
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Rolla07 Offline
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You can buy a tread depth tool for under 5$, ive found mine handy to check the tires and when doing tire changeovers in fall and spring.


2007 Corolla Red Pearl 155k miles
PP 0w20 & ST 4967
2015 Toyota Venza Parisian Blue Pearl 25k miles
TGMO 0W20 & OEM filter

Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100693 05/19/16 06:27 AM
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Donald Offline
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If you need tires I am sure DTD will have a Memorial Day sale. While the Lincoln's head as a tire gauge works it should be only used by college kids who have no money. For those of us who can afford tires, replace them a little sooner. Remember the safest mile on your tires is the first mile and the most dangerous is the last mile. Pushing the tire life to the very end will not save much when viewed as tire cost per mile driven.


2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: Donald] #4100706 05/19/16 06:44 AM
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Ducked Offline
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Long time ago I looked for data on tyre performance related to tread.

There was very little, and mostly negative. IOW there was little or no consistent effect of tread depth on stopping distance. Stopping distance isn't of course, the whole story, but its relatively easy to measure.

In the dry (most of the time here) bald tyres actually worked better, which isn't all that surprising.

So a penny would be fine for me, if I had one.

Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100708 05/19/16 06:46 AM
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In dry New Mexico, with summer months (no snow) ahead, I would run them until they failed the yearly inspection. At 3/32, you are still very legal.

No one seems to realize that worn tires actually INCREASE traction in dry conditions. I like TireRack and the other vendors too, but keep in mind their agenda is to sell you new tires.

Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100757 05/19/16 07:56 AM
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I've never really been concerned with dry performance. Wet performance, yes


18 Forester 2.5I 6M
00 Jeep XJ
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Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: Miller88] #4100764 05/19/16 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted By: Miller88
I've never really been concerned with dry performance. Wet performance, yes

Same here, I guess if it was never wet then I've run my mediocre all seasons longer, but they all became a hazard in the rain.
We used run old tires for autocross down to the cords and often you could see the difference in rubber compounds when you got through the traction layer. I've never run a tire on the street down that far though.


07 Focus ZXW, 5spd manual, 245km M1 5W30
18 Outback 2.5 CVT 35km 0W20
Re: Is that thing about tire wear and penny still true [Re: jimbrewer] #4100776 05/19/16 08:24 AM
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Ducked Offline
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Wasn't sure I believed myself so I did a quick search. Most of the easily findable stuff is for wet roads, and I couldn't find the original (NZ and Australia, IIRC) research papers.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?&ttid=91

Legal minimum tyres handle better, and brake slightly better than new and part worns in dry conditions.

(They suggest a quarter is a better tread gauge than a penny.)

http://www.ectri.org/YRS11/Documents/Final%20website/Session%201/YRS11_Session1_RajamakiVTT.pdf

80% of accidents in Finland occur in the dry. (It'll probably be a lot more here, or, say, Arizona, or the OP's New Mexico), and there is an association between low tread depth and other illegal or unsafe driver behaviour, which will affect any association between low tread and accidents.

http://www.theday.com/article/20160430/BIZ09/160439995

"Conversely, shallower tread can actually improve vehicle handling in dry conditions. Consumer Reports says the lower tread depth puts more of the tire in contact with the road, improving cornering as well as braking. This quality makes tread-free tires ideal for professional car racing, but not for everyday driving where you're sure to encounter wet or snowy conditions at some point."

- No I'm not. And optimising performance for the "local norm" seems likely to be statistically safer.





Last edited by Ducked; 05/19/16 08:32 AM.
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