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Choosing the right time to buy new tires is a balance of safety and economy. Of course, you want to get as many miles as possible out of your existing set of tires. However, research has shown there’s a difference between “legal” tires and tires that handle effectively and safely, particularly on wet roads. At Mountain View, we recommend you start shopping for new tires when the tread wears to 4/32 of an inch.

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The quarter test is the new standard gauge for safe tire tread depth. Place a Washington quarter headfirst into the tire tread grooves at several points on each tire. If the tread covers or at least touches the top of George’s head, you have at least 4/32 of an inch of tread. This gives you an extra margin of safety compared to the penny test.

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To be legal in most U.S. states, tires must pass the Lincoln penny test. Place a Lincoln penny headfirst into several of the tread grooves across your tires. If at least part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you’re OK—that means you have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, it’s time for new tires.


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


With bald or low-tread tires, you may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. Your vehicle is also more likely to hydroplane—that is, skid on standing water or slick pavement. To stay safe on the road, it’s best to replace your tires once they wear to a tread groove depth of 4/32 of an inch or less. In most states, you must have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread to be legal. Here are some buying tips.

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

There are as many types of replacement tires as there are cars, and they vary widely in terms of tread design, performance and price. The pros at Mountain View Tire & Auto Service can help you select the right tire for your vehicle.


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

If your daily commute racks up big miles, 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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