Put your tires to the test with the tire penny test. You may wonder, what is the penny test and why do I need to do it? Is this some kid's fortune-telling game or crazy dare? No, this is a nearly foolproof way to measure your tire treads and determine if you need your tires rotated or must buy new ones.

The Maguire Family of Dealerships will give you a penny for your thoughts about the tire tread penny test, how to perform it, and if it really works.

What is the Tire Penny Test?

Using your average copper-colored coin, you can measure your tire treads to make sure that they're in adequate shape for moving through a variety of terrain during your daily commute or any kind of drive.

As you may know, your tire treads grip the road, so that you can stay on steady ground even when it's icy or a torrential downpour floods the road. Without those treads, you could slip on the road and bring hazards in your direction.

How do You Penny Test Tires?

This simple test can tell you if your tires need to be replaced or at least rotated. With your supervision, your school aged kids can perform this test because it's easy and fun; you can also save it for yourself.

  • Take a penny.
  • Place it into the tire grooves with Abe Lincoln's head up.
  • If you still see Abe's head, the treads are shallow and worn down.
  • If Lincoln's head disappears, you're all clear.

Just watch out-your kids may be eager to test out everyone's tires in the neighborhood with a handful of pennies!

Consult Your Tire Tread Depth Chart

If you want more information about what a decent tread depth is, you can consult a tire tread depth chart, accessible on the internet. Generally, these are the measurements.

  • New tire treads range from a depth of 11/32 to 10/32 inches
  • Moderately worn tire treads measure 4/32 inches in depth
  • Tire treads with a depth of 2/32 inches should be replaced

In the state of New York, the minimum tire tread depth is 2/32 inches. Many states nationwide consider it illegal to drive with treads shallower than this measurement.

Is the Penny Test for Tires Accurate?

Some sources state that the penny test may not be an accurate method of testing out the depth of a tire tread. They suggest using a quarter instead.

If you see that the depth is 4/32 inches, it may be a good idea to start tire shopping and not wait until it worsens. We recommend bringing your car to our service center, so that you can get an expert on the case.

Other Signs You Need New Tires

Pay attention to a few other signs that your tires should be replaced.

  • Tire Pressure Warning Light turns on
  • Cracks or holes appear on your tire surfaces
  • Your tires may feel like they're vibrating when you drive

You can always contact our service department for advice and a quick refresher on your maintenance schedule.

Test Out Your Tire Treads with the Penny Test

Not sure how your tires are faring? Could your car be ready for new ones? Try the penny test to find out if it's time for new tires. For expert advice on tires and more, bring your car to Maguire Hyundai for a check-up today.

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Maguire Hyundai of Ithaca

320 Elmira Road
Directions Ithaca, NY 14850

  • Sales: (607) 273-8585
  • Service: (607) 273-8585
  • Parts: (607) 273-8585


  • Monday 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Tuesday 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Wednesday 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Thursday 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Friday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Saturday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Sunday Closed