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What Should My Tire Tread Look Like?

If you are looking for easy ways to stay safe on the road, our mechanics suggest keeping an eye on your tire tread. Low, worn-out tire tread can leave you vulnerable to accidents on the road. So what should your tire tread look like? The experts at Chapel Hill Tire are here with insight. 

Even Tread Across Tires

Most cars operate with front-wheel drive. As your front tires twist and turn on the road, they will face extra tread wear—which is why regular tire rotations are so important. When visually inspecting your tires, all of your tire tread should look evenly worn.

If you notice one tire worn out more than the others, it could be a sign that you need a tire rotation or wheel alignment service. If all of your tires are looking worn, you are likely due for a new set of tires. 

Tread Thickness

Tire tread is designed to grip the road, helping you safely slow down, stop, and maneuver your vehicle. The grooves in your tire tread can also help filter out dirt and precipitation on the road—keeping your tires grounded. As such, worn tire tread can cause safety hazards for drivers. To pass your annual inspection and stay safe on the road, all of your tires should have at least 2/32” in tread thickness. 

How do you measure your tire tread thickness? There are a few different methods you can use: 

  • Tread indicators: Modern tire designs include tread wear indicator bars. These bars mark the depth at which your tire tread becomes unsafe. Once your tread is flush with your wear indicators, it is time for a new set of tires. 
  • The penny test: The penny test is a quick and easy way to check your tread depth. Insert a penny upside-down between your tread grooves. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you are due for a tire replacement.
  • Expert insight: If you are still unsure, ask your local mechanic to check your tire tread depth. Many mechanics will also naturally check over your tires during car maintenance routines, such as oil changes. 

Tire Rubber Coloring

Naturally, tires get dirty when they are driving on the road or through different terrains. But what if your tires are discolored even after a thorough car wash? Discolored rubber is often a sign of oxidation. Rubber can naturally oxidize over time, making it prone to tearing. Oxidized rubber is a proven safety hazard—so much so that older tires are illegal in other countries. If your rubber is lightened in color, cracking, or rough to the touch, bring your car in for support as soon as possible. 

(Hint: Rubber can oxidize on the inside of your tire—even when the outside of your tire looks brand-new. Even if you don’t see signs of oxidation, be sure to keep an eye on your tire age. You can read our full guide to tire age here.)

Chapel Hill Tire: New Tires Near Me

If you need a professional opinion on your tires, Chapel Hill Tire is here to help! Our experts can take a look at your tires and let you know which services you may need, including a tire rotation, alignment, or replacement. 
We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Chapel Hill Tire’s mechanics also serve nearby communities, including Hillsborough, Morrisville, Knightdale, Cary, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, and beyond. We invite you to make your appointment online, browse our deals, or give us a call to get started today!

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