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90 feet is a huge difference in panic stopping power to avoid hitting someone or something!

Tire Rack; Tire Rack recommends replacing the age-old penny test with the new quarter test for tire-tread depth. By: Jake Lingeman on 5/23/2011

Lincoln loses to Washington in new test for tire-tread depth

Buried deep in a press release from Tire Rack is a bombshell. No longer is the Lincoln-head penny the true test for replacing your tires. It will now be known as the Washington-head quarter test.

For as long as we can remember, we were taught that when you could see the top of Lincoln's head on a penny stuck in your tire tread, it was time for new rubber. That's about 2/32 of an inch. Tire Rack did some tests, with an eye-opening video, on what the difference is between a new tire (10/32 of an inch), a worn tire (4/32) and a completely worn-out tire (2/32).

The control car stopped at 195.2 feet with new tires in the rain. The next test used the same car, but the treads were worn to 4/32 of an inch, about the distance between the top of a quarter and Washington's head. That car took an additional 95 feet to stop on the slick track.

At 2/32 of an inch of tread (the Lincoln-penny test), the car skidded to a stop at a lengthy 378.8 feet, almost 90 feet more than the Washington-quarter tires and 183.6 feet farther than new tires. Maybe more importantly, the last car was still traveling at 44 mph when the Washington-quarter test car stopped.

We're all for car control here at AutoWeek. Now, if Dutch will let us borrow a quarter, we'll be off to check the fleet.

Watch the panic stopping tests being performed.




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The car as we know it is on the way out. To a large extent, I deplore its passing, for as a basically old-fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea: freedom. In terms of pollution, noise and human life, the price of that freedom may be high, but perhaps the car, by the very muddle and confusion it causes, may be holding back the remorseless spread of the regimented, electronic society. --J. G. Ballard (b. 1930), British author. "The Car, The Future" first published in Drive, London, Autumn 1971; repr. in Re/Search, no. 8/9, San Francisco

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