Bald is Not Beautiful: For Your Tires

Tire Industry Survey Finds Bald Tires on 12% of Vehicles

For more information contact:                                                     Additional Materials
Dan Zielinski                                                                                      B-Roll
(202) 682-4846                                                                                 Road Trip Checklist Info Graphic                                                                         Penny Test Info Graphic

WASHINGTON, DC, November 18, 2014 –Nearly 40 million Americans are expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving travel, but 12% of the vehicles they ride in will be at increased risk due to bald tires.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), which represents this country’s tire manufacturers, released the results of a survey of more than 3,300 vehicles that found a significant portion riding on tires that are no longer road-ready.

“Bald tires are dangerous,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs. “A tire is considered bald when tread depth reaches 2/32nds inch. Bald tires have longer stopping distances and do not grip the road properly, particularly in wet weather conditions. Fortunately, there’s a simple method to determine whether tire tread depth is safe: all you need is a penny.”

To measure tire tread depth insert a penny upside down into a tread groove.  If all of Lincoln’s head is visible, the tire should be replaced.

Example of a bald tire

Example of a bald tire

RMA recommends that drivers follow a Road Trip Checklist before hitting the road for Thanksgiving travel:

  • Pressure: Check tire pressure before a long trip. Under inflation can lead to tire failure.
  • Tread: Place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new tire.
  • Avoid Overloading: Overloading your vehicle stresses your tires and can lead to damage and reduced fuel economy.
  • Don’t Forget to Check the Spare: Check your spare tire and keep it properly inflated so it’s ready when you need it most.

RMA’s 2014 Tread Depth Survey sampled more than 3,400 drivers across the U.S. about the tread on their tires. The survey found that nearly 12 percent of vehicles had at least one bald tire.

Among the places with the highest percentage of vehicles with worn out tires: Baltimore, Md. (21.1 percent), Birmingham, Ala. (20.9 percent), San Diego, Calif. (18.5 percent), Oklahoma City, Okla. (18.2 percent), Baton Rouge, La. (16.2 percent), Norfolk, Va. (16 percent), Houston, Tx. (16 percent), Richmond, Va. (15.4 percent), Minneapolis, Minn. (14 percent) and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tx. (13.8 percent).

The RMA urges drivers to “Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART” this and every holiday season by checking your tire’s Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread.  For more information, visit


# # # #

The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that produce tires in the U.S.  All RMA press releases are available at