In response to questions about the installation of used tires on new trailers, legal counsel of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) has prepared a white paper to address the subject.
Federal law prohibits putting used tires on new trailers, NATM points out—with one exception. Those who do so are risking civil and possibly even criminal penalties, along with a mandatory recall of those trailers to replace the used tires.
The white paper points out that Congress directed NHTSA to enact mandatory federal motor vehicle safety standards governing the manufacture of new vehicles, including new trailers. 49 U.S.C. § 30111(a). NHTSA’s resulting safety standards, codified in 49 C.F.R. Part 571, require all new trailers – those over 10,000 lbs. GVWR and those under 10,000 lbs. GVWR – to be equipped with new tires, with one very narrow exception. See 49 C.F.R. § 571.120 S5.1.1, referencing compliance with safety standards 109, 119, and 139.
That one exception, available only for trailers with GVWRs of more than 10,000 lbs. or equipped with ST tires, permits the trailer manufacturer, but not the dealer, to install used tires (e.g. regrooved or retreaded tires) on such new trailers if and only if all five of the following conditions are met:
1. The retail purchaser of the trailer requests used tires;
2. The trailer manufacturer installs the used tires at its plant;
3. The retail purchaser owns or leases the used tires to be installed;
4. The sum of the maximum load ratings of the used tires on each axle is not less than the gross axle weight rating of that axle; and
5. The used tires were originally manufactured to comply with FMVSS No. 119, evidenced by the DOT symbol.
Congress imposes a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation of a mandatory NHTSA safety standard, including Standard No. 120, and $15,000,000 for a series of violations. 49 U.S.C. § 30165(a). Each vehicle not in compliance is a separate violation. In addition, the trailer manufacturer must initiate a trailer recall campaign to replace those tires with new ones in accordance with NHTSA’s motor vehicle defect and non-compliance reporting-and-notification regulations, 49 C.F.R Parts 573 and 577.