tire penny test

Tire Tips: What You Need to Know

Tires are the only part of your car that (should) make contact with the road. We often underestimate their role, but they determine the driving experience that you have. In fact, damaged tires can be extremely dangerous and may even cost you your life. This is why it is really important to frequently check the condition of your tires so that you remain safe.


Here are some key tire tips that you definitely need to know:

how to determine tire size

Choose the Right Size

Tires generally last 3-4 years with the average driving being 12,000-15,000 miles per year. If you don’t know the actual size, you can look at the number located on the sidewalls of your current tires. An example of how a number sequence will display is something like this:

P265/70R16 (265= tires width in millimeters, 70= tires sidewall height is 70% of its width, R= how the tire was contrasted, 99% of tires have this, and 16= rim size).

Another way to find out the right size of tires for your car is to read the owner’s manual, or any local dealer/national chain can look up by your VIN number to match the appropriate size.



all weather tires


Choose the Right Type

Because of their black color and symmetric treads, all tires might look and feel the same. However, they are all designed differently and for different purposes. To decide which tires will be perfect for you, consider the weather of where you live.

If you live somewhere with four seasons, your best bet is to invest in all-weather tires. They are middle of the road tires in terms of performance and have the most traction in various weather conditions. If you reside in a relatively cold area, then you should go for softer winter tires. These winter tires provide extra grip on slippery surfaces, especially on surfaces with snow. However, if you live in a region where cold weather is not common, then the best choice is relatively stiffer summer tires.

Choose ‘New Born’ Tires

Another important tip that you should be aware of is how to check the age of your tires. Manufacturers have a printed code on the sidewalls of the tires indicating their age. It is a four-digit code that begins with a dot and is followed by the week and year of manufacturing.

Here is an example to understand this concept. If the code on your tires displays ‘0814,’ then it means the tires were manufactured in the 8th week of 2014. So, make sure to check this ‘birthday code’ of tires prior to your purchase.


Learn the Lingo

When you are out shopping for a new set of tires, you will come across many tempting options, such as “high performance” tires. Just keep in mind that these high-performance tires are designed for cars that are used in races or have a need for speed and are not necessary for your average commute. Many sports cars come standard with high-performance tires, however, they are not the best for wet or wintery conditions. They can also be four times as expensive as “all weather” tires and not last as long.


tire penny test


The Penny Test

The penny test is one of the easiest ways to find out whether you need to replace your tires or not. All you have to do is take a penny and place it between the tread of the tire. Make sure that Lincoln’s head is pointing towards the center of the tire. If you observe the head is partially hidden, then it is a clear indication that you need new tires.

Comments 11

  1. Explain Lincoln’s head being “partially hidden”. What’s the measurement? If my daily drive is 3 miles a day, and I do no highway driving, then his head being ¾ hidden is not reason enough for new tires.

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      Hi Sue, thanks for your comment! It’s really a question of safety mitigation. The treads are there to help prevent hydroplaning where you lose control of the car because the tires can not get displace the water between it and the ground causing the car to skid. If you live in a place like Arizona where it rarely rains and there is a relatively low risk of this happening you can push it a little bit longer. If you live in Minnesota where it might snow in the next couple of months you’re taking a pretty big risk letting your treads wear down.

      The Lincoln head test is really a guideline and obviously it up to each driver to take their climate into account

  2. Nice article. Replacement of the tire is really expensive and hence suitable initiatives should be implemented to prolong the lifespan of the tire. Tire pressure fluctuates with the surrounding temperature and driving a vehicle with under-inflated tires not only affects the fuel economy of the vehicle but also could lead to an accident. So, tire pressure should be inspected at a regular interval and if necessary should be replaced with suitable substitutes. Apart from this, driving a vehicle with little or low tread depth also influence the performance of the vehicle in a very adverse way. So, tread depth measurement at a regular interval is really essential and if necessary should be replaced with suitable substitutes.

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  3. I’m looking at getting some racing tires. You did mention that choosing the right type is important. I’d be sure to get some that are specific for the track.

  4. Also, the overall lifespan of a tire depends on the driving habit of the user. If the driver drives carelessly, the tires won’t last long.
    Thus, choose the right type of tire according to the usage is essential.

  5. I had no idea that tires generally last 3-4 years with the average driving being 12,000-15,000 miles per year. I need new tires for the first time for my new car and have no idea how to go about it. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind and will look into finding some used tires so I don’t have to spend a fortune to get them replaced.

  6. I wanted to thank you for this advice for tires. It’s interesting to learn that all tires could be designed differently, like how some can be used all year-round. Maybe it could be good to consider what the weather is like in your area to figure out what tires you need.

    1. Exactly
      You should first consider your weather, your road conditions, and how often you drive your vehicle in various conditions, then decide your tire.

  7. Thank you for your great article on how to choose tires. I need new tires put on my car. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when trying to choose the perfect tires for my car.

  8. My husband and I are planning to drive across the country once we retire from our jobs next month, and we want to make sure that our van can handle the trip. We are thinking about getting new tires, and I didn’t realize that the size of the tire we choose is so important! You make a great point that we can look in our owner’s manual to figure out the suggested size of tire we should buy.

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