Used Tire Laws

April 17, 2018

One of the single greatest profit centers for a tire shop is selling used tires. However, it can also be the most risky sale a shop can make. Used tires have already been in service, and on a vehicle for a period of time. Were they properly maintained? Inflated? Loaded? Rotated? On the correct rim width? Were they the right tire for the vehicle they came off of? I could keep going here, but there’s only so much room for this article so I’ll just assume you get where I’m going with this.

When installing used tires the U.S. Tire Manufactures Association, USTMA (formerly the RMA) has this to say on their website (

  • Once a tire has been mounted on a vehicle and driven, it’s considered a used tire. Once a used tire is resold as a replacement, it’s a risky proposition for motorists.
  • While new tires must meet stringent federal safety standards to be sold in the U.S., worn tires can be resold as used with virtually no restrictions.
  • Used tires come with many unknowns. How was it used? Was it stored properly? Was it safely maintained? Was it ever repaired?
  • Every variable has a major impact on driver safety. Damaged or improperly maintained tires are outright dangerous to all drivers.  

Hidden concerns

You might think you can spot a damaged tire by sight, but you can’t. For example, you can only see damage or improper repairs to a tire’s inner liner after demounting it from the wheel. Even then, only a qualified service professional can make that determination.

A unified voice for safety

USTMA works to educate policymakers and consumers about the dangers of unsafe used tires. We are advocating for state laws that prohibit the installation of used tires with conditions that pose a significant motorist safety risk.

Now the USTMA does not offer specific details on “conditions that pose a significant motorist safety risk” in any of their current publications. They do, however, have extensive steps on tire inspection guidelines on pages 16-19 of the RMA Care and Service of Automobile and Light Truck Tires. The Tire Industry Association (TIA) also offers an entire module on how to inspect a tire in their Certified ATS Instructor program. TIA also offers the industry’s complete guide to tire damage and irregular wear, The Passenger and Light Truck Tire Conditions Manual. While I can’t publish the entire section on tire inspection guidelines from the USTMA, here’s what they have to say about tread conditions that should be removed from service:

  • Worn to 2/32” (1.6mm) or less anywhere on the face of the tread and/or tread wear indicators showing
  • Localized spot wear due to separation
  • Cuts, cracks, bulges, or snags in the tread or groove exposing cord or fabric material (excludes repairable conditions)
  • Unrepairable punctures

This is just part of the entire inspection process that must take place when returning tires to service, and in ensure that more service centers are following these steps, the USTMA has pushed legislation in several states that ban installing used tires with “specific, well-established, unsafe conditions.” In Texas, HB 2774 is bill that has passed through the state legislation and is waiting for the Governor’s signature. If this law goes into effect and other states quickly follow suit, it may be VERY beneficial for a tire dealer to be able to easily document the conditions of the tires he installed. Stay tuned for tips on how to easily document your tire sales and proved you did the right, safe thing for the consumer, regardless of the law.


Perhaps the best wat to limit liability and to protect your customers is fully inspect the tires, measure remaining tread, photograph if capable and then record all of this data.  Software applications, specialty tools and mobile devices have made collecting this critical information easier and faster.  Using the right program and the technician can easily take the necessary measurements and photos to document their work.  The application makes storage and recall, and compliance, a breeze!