On 3 of my tires, the penny just won't stand in the tread. The gap in the tread is too wide for the penny to stand. Does that matter?

Worn out tread

In case of the 4th tire, the penny goes in to some degree. This is a new tire. I suppose this tells that the penny is good.


This weekend, I am planning to take it to a tire store, but I want to be armed with some knowledge, before going there. I drive about 13 - 15 K miles per year. This van was purchased on 31-Dec-2012 and the dealer told me it was a vehicle that was owned by car-rental company. The dealership said, they put brand new tires on it. I have had a few alignment issues in the beginning of 2014 and that's the reason one tire is newer than the others.

Do I need to replace the other 3 tires, where the gap between the treads is considerable?

  • 1
    I am not really sure what you are asking Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 13:57
  • Apologies. I would like to know if the gap between the tread walls is unusual and I need to replace the tires at this time.
    – abhi
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


You are actually using the penny the wrong way. Abe's head should be pointing down. You are looking to see if the depth of the tread goes up past his head. I believe the depth is supposed to be 3/32" or more to be good. The penny test is just rule of thumb. If the top of Abe's head is anywhere close to being seen, you probably need new tires. You are not looking to see if it will stand up, but that of the distance of the thread to the base of the groove. Use this at the least tread, not the most tread.

  • Does the gap between the two tread walls matter?
    – abhi
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 14:45
  • 2
    No, it does not matter. Looking at one tire to another (different brands/models), the distance between the walls is almost always going to be different. There is no way to use that as a test. Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 14:47
  • You might want to explain the purpose of the gap (e.g., to channel water).
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 21:00

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