NATM receives frequent questions regarding the legality of installing used tires on new trailers. Trailer manufacturers and dealers should know this practice is illegal, per NHTSA regulation (49 C.F.R. § 571.120 S5.1.1), with one narrow exception. That exception, applicable only to trailers with GVWRs exceeding 10,000 lbs. or equipped with specialty “ST” or “FI” tires, appearing in 49 C.F.R. § 571.120 S5.1.3, permits trailer manufacturers (but not dealers) to install used tires on new trailers only if five specified conditions are met, including retail trailer purchasers must own the used tires and request they be installed.
Manufacturers installing used tires without meeting the exception violate federal law, namely NHTSA Safety Standard 120, and thereby subject themselves to civil penalties (up to $5,000 for each violation of the mandatory safety standard and $15,000,000 for a series of violations) and to the onerous obligation to initiate trailer recall campaigns. 49 U.S.C. § 30165(a). That non-compliant manufacturer also is subject to the reporting-and-notification requirements of NHTSA’s motor vehicle recall regulations, 49 C.F.R. Parts 573 and 577, applicable to manufacturers of any vehicle not in compliance with a mandatory FMVSS or containing a safety-related defect.
Trailer dealers could face similar penalties if they sell non-compliant trailers with used tires. NHTSA, in a rulemaking proceeding addressing the applicability of new tire standards, expressly states that, “[vehicle] dealers are not permitted to sell non-compliant vehicles or take actions which would take a vehicle out of compliance with an applicable safety standard [such as by substituting tires].” 69 Fed. Reg. 31311 (June 3, 2004).
For more information on this subject, NATM has prepared a white paper on used tires -- please contact NATMHQ@natm.com -- or look for the Spring 2015 Trailer Dealer Edition of Tracks Magazine, available online at www.NATM.com.