How to Check Your Summer Tire Tread

Having good summer tires is important during the warm months in Nova Scotia. Whether you're driving on hot pavement, dirt backroads, or during thundershowers, you want to be sure that your vehicle maintains peak traction levels at all times. A key factor in this is making sure that your summer tires still have the tread depth required to grip the road.




"Can I leave my winter tires on my vehicle during summer?"


Winter tires are not made for driving in conditions in which temperatures are consistently above 7oC. With them on, your vehicle's handling will be less precise, braking distances will be longer (by at least 10% on dry pavement, and 26% on wet) and depending on the tread pattern, more likely to hydroplane.  Further more, leaving them on will likely result in the lifespan of your winter tires being drastically impacted (up to 60% shorter), along with a higher rolling resistance and lower gas mileage.


There are a couple different ways that you can check at home if your tires still have enough tread to get you safely through the summer season:


#1: Tire Tread Indicators

If your summer tires have tire tread wear indicators built in, then knowing if you need to replace them can be as simple as checking the indicators. The tire tread indicators are the small raised bars, usually 6 on a tire, located along the inside of the tread grooves. They indicate the minimum tread depth permitted. Once the indicators begin to wear, the tires need to be replaced immediately. Be sure to check multiple indicators on each tire to make sure they are wearing evenly.

#2: Toonie Method

Checking the depth of your tire tread doesn't require the use of fancy tools. It can be as simple as taking an ordinary toonie and sticking it upright in the shallowest groove in your tires, and seeing how much of the coin remains uncovered.

  • If the tread reaches up to the bear's paws, then your tires are in near new condition, and have lots of tread remaining.
  • If the tread covers the silver part of the toonie, then the tread is about half worn, and you should be able to get a few more seasons out of them.
  • If about half of the letters of CANADA or DOLLARS (depending on the toonie's orientation) are exposed, then you need to look at getting new summer tires.

#3: Tire Depth Gauge

A tire tread gauge is a useful tool to keep in your glove compartment, that can be purchased in any hardware or home improvement store. To use, simply find the shallowest groove in the tire tread, and insert the pin into it, while pushing the base flush with the tire.

  • If the gauge reads 6/32" or higher, then your summer tires are in new-like condition.
  • If the gauge reads 4/32"-3/32", then your summer tires likely won't make it through the entire season (assuming a season is 10,000km driven) and need to be replaced.
  • If the gauge reads 2/32" or less at any time, you need to replace your summer tires immediately. The tires are legally bald and are not safe for driving.

Quick Tip

When using the toonie method or a tire depth gauge, you should take at least 4 different readings in different areas on the same tire, and repeat this on all 4 tires. The lowest number is the one you should go by on whether your tires should be replaced. If you notice there is a large discrepancy between the highest gauge reading and the lowest on the same tire, you should schedule an appointment with a certified technician as the uneven wearing of a tire may indicate a problem.


Keeping Your Summer Tires In Good Condition

There are many factors that can affect the lifespan of your summer tires, but making sure that you properly care for your tires can help extend it.

  • Your tires should be properly inflated to the PSI recommended in the owner's manual. Maintaining this tire pressure reduces tire wear, and can even save you gas. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month, or, if you rack up a lot of mileage on a regular basis, once a week.
  • The tires should be balanced and rotated every 10,000km. This service helps prevent uneven tread wear from occurring.
  • If you feel your vehicle begin to pull to the left or right, or notice uneven tread wear on your tires, you need to have an alignment done on your vehicle.


Did You Know?

The type of tires you have on your vehicle affects where they are moved during a rotation service. If you have directional tires, then the tires must be switched with the tire on the same side (ex: front left tire switched with rear left tire and vice versa). If you have non-directional tires, then the tires must be rotated in an "X" pattern (ex: front left tire switched with rear right tire and vice versa).


Want to leave it to the professionals?

Our certified technicians are here to fulfill all your vehicle needs.  We can check over your tires, and give you a recommendation personalized to fit you. Schedule an appointment today.

At Saunders Motors

We believe in customer service first, so you will never feel pushed or pressured into a purchase. Instead, we will provide you with all the options and information necessary for you to make an educated decision. We have a strong and committed sales staff that works diligently to guarantee that you enjoy your entire purchasing experience. Our knowledgeable business manager can assist you in the leasing or financing process, and keep you informed on warranties and insurance. The dealership is supported by a team of managers who work daily to ensure we are price leaders in the local market, and that customers near and far are satisfied.