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Are My Tires Legal? Breaking Down The Tire Law In The USA

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Motor vehicles are subject to several different regulations, and transgressions can lead to fines, impounding of your car, or even rendering it completely unroadworthy. When it comes to the rubber your wheels are wrapped in, car owners should know about the tire laws that will not only keep you out of trouble, but also ensure you're safe.

These often forgotten parts of your car experience immense wear and tear, especially if you are a regular long-distance driver. Knowing what types of tires you should be using, depending on the type of vehicle you drive, the state you live in, or even the weather, is just as important as obeying the rules of the road. These are set out comprehensively in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), but here is a quick guide on some of the most important things you need to know about your car's tire safety standards.

What Are The Current US Tire Regulations?

Regulations comprise various rules, which form part of the law; these regulations regarding tires are therefore law in the USA. While the different states may have variations, the following are common.


  • Tread depth: For starters, almost all states agree that the minimum tread depth of automotive tires should be at least 2/32 of an inch. Some states specify that front tires should have a tread depth of at least 4/32 of an inch. To help car owners keep track of this, many tire manufacturers place a wear indicator on their tires that shows if tread wear has reached critical levels. Alternatively, you could use the 'penny rule'. This involves holding a penny in the groove of the tread, with the Lincoln head pointing downward. If the top of the head isn't at least partially covered by the rubber, then the minimum depth has likely been reached or exceeded.

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Author: MORGAN CARTER

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