A digital tread depth a-gauge being used to measure the tread depth of tires. Most shops perform a safety check including checking and recording the tread depth of the tires, whenever the vehicle is in the shop for any service or repairs. James Halderman photo

There’s a lot riding on your tires

Straight Talk

Wheels: Jim of Dayton asks: “I had my 2010 Chevrolet truck in a shop for service (oil change and air and cabin filter changes). When I picked it up, the shop manager showed me a checklist showing that everything looked good except that my rear tires were at 4/32-inch of tread depth and the front tires had 6/32. He said that I should consider purchasing new tires soon. He said that while they are within acceptable tread depth, they are also almost 10 years old and most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tires that old regardless of tread depth. Is this true?”

Halderman: Yes. In fact, many automotive experts recommend replacing tires when they are six years old regardless of tread depth. Consumer Reports magazine states they recommend that tires not be used after 10 years. Your shop was doing the right thing by bringing this to your attention. The legal limit for tire tread depth is 2/32 inch. All tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch and includes the following:

• New tires – 9/32 to 11/32 inch depending on the tire. High-performance tires usually come new with 9/32 inch of tread depth, whereas luxury car tires often have as much as 11/32 inch of thread depth.

• 4/32 inch – the depth where many experts recommend that the tire be replaced. Using quarter coin, if you can see the top of Washington’s head, then it is less than 4/32 inch. If at or less than this depth, then new tires are recommended.

• 2/32 inch – the legal limit for the tread depth. Using penny coin, if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is less than 2/32 inch. If at or less than this depth, new tires are required.

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