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A Penny For Your Thoughts - The Penny Tread Test

Published Feb 27th 2007, 3:45pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

4_tips_penny_916 Bridgestone Firestone North America has a practical suggestion for keeping up with your tire tread. Ever heard of the Lincoln Penny Test?

The Lincoln penny test has become a tried-and-true method of determining when it's time to get new tires. The procedure is as simple as placing a penny in the tread and using Abe Lincoln's noggin as your guide.

Here's the three-step "penny test:"

    1. Take a penny and pinch Abe's body between your thumb and forefinger.
    2. Put Lincoln's head into one of the grooves on the tread. (Think: nosedive...Abe should be upside down) Select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest.
    3. If any part of Abe Lincoln's head is obscured by the tread, you're driving with the legal and safe amount of tread. If you can see above his head, where it says "In God We Trust," you're ready for a new tire.

Why worry about tread depth? If your tread gets below 2/32 of an inch, your car's ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced. Furthermore, insufficient tread is not only dangerous; in many states it is illegal (legal tread depth is 2/32 of an inch - the exact distance from the tip of Abe's head to the rim of a penny).

Andrew_firestone A penny for your thoughts? Andrew Firestone (yes, the Bachelor who broke Jen's heart) points out, “Sometimes it only takes a penny to impress a girl.” Uh-oh. Looks like his dates are picking up the tabs!

In addition to tread depth, three other factors will affect your tire's safety and performance, and can best be remembered with three key words - inflate, rotate and evaluate. Inflation pressure should be checked monthly and should always be kept at the automobile manufacturer's recommended pressure. For maximum mileage, tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles. Also, frequent visual checks can alert car owners to obvious signs of wear or damage.

For more information on quick and easy ways to ensure proper tire maintenance, visit the Bridgestone Firestone tire safety Web site at

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