Tire tread depth is extremely important to be aware of for any vehicle. Checking tire tread depth on a regular basis is the key to avoid being in the unfortunate incident of being stuck on the side of the road or even worse, involved in a dangerous car accident.
More than a decade ago, I was driving my first car, a first gen Mazda Protege. I was living in Southern California at the time and I would do one-way hour-long commutes on a daily basis. Back then, I didn’t have the money to proactively replace tires before the tire tread ran too thin.
It seems that whenever you get a flat tire, it tends to be at the worst possible moments. I’ve had my tire blow out twice around the same time during my early college days. One time it happened when it was raining while I was on my way to taking a midterm at school. The second time happened at night on my way to my own birthday party. With that said, I think tires blow out during the worst possible times. But really though, when is a good time to get a flat tire?
With a tire tread depth gauge costing about 5-6 dollars on Amazon, it’s cheap insurance to keep you safe from running your tire tread too low. I decided to pick one up through Amazon and try it out.
The Steelman Tire Tread Depth Gauge is pretty simple. It’s simply a gauge, connected to a steel tip, all of which slides within a steel cylindrical housing. On the end of the steel housing is a flat plastic edge which is meant to rest on the outer tread.
The way the tire tread works is to zero-out the gauge by pressing the gauge down all the way so that the metal flat tip protrudes from the bottom (see above photo). The flat plastic edge is then placed up against the top edge of the tire tread, while the flat steel tip pushes against the recessed tire tread until the gauge stops. The reading is then obtained very easily from the gauge.
I performed a tread reading on my tires by taking a reading on every longitudinal groove of the tire and taking an average of the readings. From my readings, I was getting a 3/32″ reading from the inner and middle grooves and a 4/32″ reading from the outer groove. It was obvious that it was time for the tires to be replaced.
The great thing about this particular gauge is that it is color-coded. After inserting the tire depth gauge into the tire tread, you will quickly and easily see whether the tire tread is adequate (green), getting low (yellow), or dangerously low (red). The tread depth range on the gauge is as follows:
- Green: 6/32″ +
- Yellow: 3/32″ – 6/32″
- Red: 0 – 3/32″
Although simple in its operation, the build quality on this Steelman tread depth gauge is high. I keep one in my glove compartment now; as long as I continue to check my tire tread depth, I’m confident that I can prevent future tire blow-outs from ever happening again.