Question about tire tread safety levels

My tires tread is on the 4/32 of inch part of a ruler or close to where the change soon part of this image is:

One is flat at that level and the others are just worn down to that same level. Should I go ahead and just get them replaced or find out if it needs to be patched (for flat) instead? If so how long do you think I would have until the tires tread gets less than 2/32 of an inch or where it’s not safe to drive anymore? Would hate to waste my day at discount tire if I can just get it over with quick…

Up to you but I replaced mine at about that level when I ran over my tape measure. The points went well into the tire. Not a puncture but well beyond the tread. Winter was coming so I just replaced them.

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The best thing to have around is a tire tread depth gauge.
If you use it and it shows to be in the yellow, it is time to replace the tires. The gauge is cheap and eliminates guesswork. Also, if you tires are close to being 6 years old, it is recommended that they be replaced due to degradation of materials. It never pays to gamble with the only thing that keeps you and the road apart. Also, you should be able to make an appointment at Discount Tire. No need to spend a day.


Ol’ Abe has been obsolete for a few years now. All tires have these wear indicators to tell you when you are reaching the end of the tires safe driving life… see below.


When those bars are even with the tread, it is time to replace them.
Additionally, all tires are marked with a date code as shown below. The circled 4 digits … the first 2 indicate the week they were made and the last 2 the year. That tire is 15 years old! And too old to drive on!


And as @jdmere points out, using old tires is a bad thing. If you live where is is hot, after about 6 years the tire will be hard, dry and have small cracks and will NOT be safe to drive on no matter HOW much tread is left! See an example of dry rot below…

Those 3 clues tell you whether it is New Tire Time or if you can repair a flat and drive for a few more miles.


To the other helpful posts, I will add that tire traction/road-holding ability is not an all-or-nothing situation with everything just fine and dandy until there is less than 2/32 of tread remaining, and then–suddenly–everything goes South.

Even if the tread measures slightly greater depth than 2/32, once a tire’s tread gets that thin, wet road traction is seriously diminished. Unless the OP never drives in the rain, I suggest that he should replace all of the tires a.s.a.p.


It only takes a bit more time to get all 4 tires changed than it does to repair a flat. It’s the waiting time that is so long.

And in Discount Tire’s case, you can make an appointment. When I did that, I was out within a half hour (Only one tire, but nevertheless!)


Many tire shops will give appointments, they might not start the work at the exact time but that is better than just showing up and waiting.

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The last time that I got my tires replaced at Costco, I made an appointment online. Because of the appointment, when I finished shopping inside the store, my car was ready to go a couple of minutes after I emerged from the store. Without an appointment, it would not be unusual to have to cool your heels for 3 hours at a Costco tire center.

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Do you guys know roughly how long a tire at the 4/32 mark will last before it gets down to 2/32?

Although 2/32 is the legal limit, you’re still more likely to hydroplane once you get that low, as VDCdriver says. I personally don’t run tires below 4/32 in summer or 6/32 in winter, as my safety is more important than getting a few more dollars out of my tires.


If you drive like my neighbor’s son, see the photo below… If you drive like my Grandmother did, the tires will disintegrate from age before they wear out…



It depends on…
the particular brand/model tire
whether you keep the tires properly inflated
whether you keep the wheels aligned properly
whether you rotate the tires as specified by the vehicle mfr
and…believe it or not…
whether your driving involves mostly straight roads or whether you need to do a lot of turning.


No , there are too many things to consider to even make a wild guess .

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Tire wear depends on your specific driving habits and usage but when buying your replacement tires, the UTQG can be a useful relative wear guide.

just fyi my Falken Sincera SN250 A/S205 /55 R16 91T SL BSW (manufactured in the 29th week of 2020) put on new from discount tire last April (give or take a month roughly maybe), has gone from the new 11/32 rated tread depth down to 10/32. I’m a pretty careful driver mostly (don’t ever really speed for the most part), and I only drive about 3000 miles roughly every year and I do roughly an even mix of freeway driving and regular city roads. I don’t use a car port here at home and park outside, so any variables considered recieving sun ray damage would probably qualify although I have tried to park under trees and shade if possible again here at home, but it’s more than likely been exposed to sun 75% or more overall. If you consider someone driving double what I do, one could imagine running the tread down double that amongst of course other variables, but am not 100%, since I’ve never has the opportunity to do any observations beyond this before. But I have taken observations of other things over time of the life God has given me and to us all :slight_smile:

I guess my record was 110,000 miles on Goodyear 15". I tried farm store Coopers or something but seems to me they only lasted about 60,000. Original equipment Mich. only lasted 30,000. Not bald or anything but not good for winter. So there is a really wide range of what mileage to expect from a tire. I’ve never really paid that much attention to it.

The OEM BF Goodrich tires that came on my father’s '66 Galaxie 500 were evenly worn across the tread, and needed to be replaced, at ~16k miles.

The only good things about my '74 Volvo were the brakes and the OEM Michelin tires. When I finally dumped that dog, it had ~76k miles on the odometer, and the tires still had 5/32 of tread remaining.

I just had a set of tires mounted/balanced at discount tire about two weeks ago. It took about an hour. The old tires were at 3/32’s to 3.5/32’s, it was about time to get a new set. Went with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 4’s this time around. I was also seriously considering the Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate.