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Using a toonie to check your winter tire tread

View the video here on your mobile device.

This video first ran in December 2011.

We asked our viewers to send us their questions and concerns about winter tires, and we posed those to tire expert Paul Luciano, co-owner of CP Tire in Carleton Place, Ontario. Janet from Alberta asks, “How long will my treads last, and is there a way I can test them?”

Paul Luciano: About average (mileage) is 18,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year and I would say three good seasons. You’ll probably still have tread remaining on those snow tires, but they won’t have the same traction as they did when they were new.

This tire measures about 60 percent worn and less than 6/32s of tread. An all-season tire brand new will come with approximately 11/32s to 13/32s, depending on the manufacturer. The tread depth is that much. In order for this tire to pass the safety, we require 4/32s of tread above the wear bar which is right here. This tire would actually pass a safety if it had an even 4/32s of tread across the face of the tire. But, like all tires, the bottom section of the tread lug is significantly harder than the top. When you get down to this depth of tread, although still serviceable in dry weather, it’s not so good in wet or cold.

Not everyone carries around a professional device for measuring tread depth, but there is a simple trick most of us can use with a good old toonie.

Paul Luciano: 12/32s of rubber, if you’re testing the depth of your new tires, should reach the paws of the polar bear on the toonie. At 50 percent wear, which is approximately 7/32s of tread, if you put your toonie into the tire tread, at 50 percent will cover the nickel part of the toonie. At 4/32s of tread, at which the tire would not be very good in winter driving although would still have tread on it, would just partially cover the letters of the word “dollars” on your toonie.

 

Comments (3)

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  1. Lynn says:

    Great information…. now I won’t let my local tire/mechanic shop rip me off (again!) and convince me I HAVE to get new snow tires every season.

    Anyone know anything about tire studs? Are they necessary for driving on city roads (no off-roading). I hear mixed thoughts.

  2. Chris says:

    I’ll totally try that toonie trick.

  3. [...] This is part two in a series. Find part one here: Are your winter tires safe? [...]

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