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When to buy new tires is a balance between safety and economy. You want to get as many miles as possible out of your tires. Yet, consumer research shows there is a difference between “legal” tires and tires that handle well, particularly on wet pavement. We recommend you start shopping for tires when the tread wears to 4/32 inch.

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Is the new standard gauge for safe tread depth. Place a Washington quarter upside down into the tread grooves at several points. You’re okay, by George, if the tread covers or at least touches the top of his head, about 4/32 inch. This gives you an extra margin of safety compared to the penny test.

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To be legal in most states, tires must pass the Lincoln penny test, a minimum tread depth of 2/32 inch. You’re okay if the tread covers part of Abe’s head. If not, it’s time to replace your tires. Honest.


Manufacturers also place tread wear indicators in the tread grooves. Replace your tires when the tread wears even with the wear bars.


Remember, with bald tires you might not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident. Your vehicle is also more likely to hydroplane on bald tires—skid on standing water or slick pavement. Better to replace your tires when they wear to a tread groove depth of 4/32 inch or less. In most state, you must have at least 2/32 inch of tread to be legal. Here are some buying tips:

A new set of tires will repay you with better control, confidence, and in some cases improved gas mileage. For example, the Goodyear Assurance® Fuel Max tires can save enough over their lifetime to buy two new tires.*

There are as many replacement tires as there are cars, and they vary widely in terms of tread design, performance, and price. The pros at Monro can help you select the right tire for your vehicle, including answering the question about the specifications that are molded into the sidewall of the tire.


To help consumers compare tires, the federal government requires manufacturers to grade tires in three categories: treadwear rate, traction performance, and temperature resistance.**

If your daily commute racks up big mileage, pay special attention to the UTQG treadwear rating printed on the side of your tires. Choose a tire rated 300 or better.

If you often drive at highway speeds or tow a boat or trailer, the UTQG temperature rating is important. Overheated tires can cause blowouts. Select an A-rated tire.

*Up to 2,600 miles based on a 4% fuel economy improvement on 65,000-Mile Tread Life Limited Warranty, as compared to the standard Goodyear Assurance P195/65R15 size tire tested on 2008 Honda Civic. Actual results may vary depending on when tires are replaced, driving and road conditions, and proper tire maintenance.

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