The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
September 2, 1994 94-R-0840
FROM: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst
RE: Trucks and Retreaded Tires
You asked for Connecticut's requirements regarding the use of retreaded tires on commercial vehicles. You also asked whether there have been any bills introduced in the last five years on this subject and whether any states in the northeastern United States prohibit trucks from using them.
Connecticut has no law prohibiting or limiting the use of recapped or retreaded tires on trucks. The law does require that tires on motor vehicles be maintained in safe operating condition and state regulations specify what constitutes safe condition. State law also prohibits the manufacture and sale of defective recapped tires and regulations specify what conditions prohibit a tire casing from being used for a retreaded tire.
In general, federal regulations governing commercial vehicles in interstate commerce do not prohibit the use of retreaded tires. One exception is that regrooved, recapped, or retreaded tires cannot be used on the front wheels of buses. Regrooved tires can only be used on the front wheels of trucks if they meet a certain load capacity equivalency of a normal tire.
We looked at the statutes of the New England states, New York, and New Jersey and found no laws prohibiting retreaded tires on trucks. The American Trucking Association was aware of no states in the northeastern United States that have such laws.
There have been no bills introduced in the General Assembly on this subject in the last six sessions.
Safe Operating Condition of Tires
State law does not prohibit trucks from using recapped or retreaded tires, but it does require that any motor vehicle operating in Connecticut be equipped with tires in safe operating condition. It requires the commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to establish standards for safe operating condition that encompass the effects of tread wear and depth (CGS § 14-98a). These regulations state that to be considered in safe operating condition tires must have at least 1/16 of an inch of tread depth at two locations. Also, a tire is not considered in safe condition if it: (1) has a fabric break, or a cut over one inch and deep enough to reach the body cords, or has been repaired with blowout patches or boots; (2) has any bump, bulge, or knot related to separation or partial failure of the tire structure; (3) has any portion of the ply or cord structure exposed; or (4) has a portion of the tread design completely worn and this is of sufficient size to affect traction or stopping ability (Conn. Agencies Reg. § 14-98a-2, -4).
The DMV regulations clearly contemplate the legal use of retreaded, recapped, or regrooved tires. Specifically, the requirements relating to tread depth include original, retread, and recap tread design. Also, they include the recut or regrooved tread design of “special mileage commercial tires.” These are defined as tires manufactured with an extra layer of rubber between the cord body and the original tread design so that the extra layer can be recut or regrooved after the initial layer has worn away (Conn. Agencies Reg. § 14-98a-1).
Operating with unsafe tires is considered an infraction and currently punished by a fine of $60.
Manufacture and Sale of Recapped Tires
State law also prohibits anyone from manufacturing, selling, or offering for sale any recapped tire when the person has knowledge that the tire casing does not meet DMV requirements. The prohibition includes anyone who knowingly recaps a tire with a defective casing with the intent to sell it. Violators are subject to a criminal penalty of up to a $100 fine, up to six months imprisonment, or both (CGS § 53-215a).
DMV regulations prohibit recapping or retreading tires with casings having: (1) kinked, exposed, or broken bead wires; (2) torn beads or chafer fabric; (3) tread separation which could not or was not removed by buffing; or (4) ply separation.
Also, if a casing has less than a five ply rating, it cannot be retreaded if it has: (1) any punctures, cuts or breaks over one inch in diameter after “skiving” (removing injured material with a beveled cut) extending into the tire cord; (2) two or more closed punctures (nailholes) which extend through the inner ply cord and are less than 15 inches apart on the outside of the tread area; (3) any puncture outside of the tread area; or (4) loose or pulled inner ply cord.
A casing with a five ply or more rating cannot be retreaded if it has: (1) more than two punctures, cuts, or breaks measuring more than one-quarter of the tread cross-section after skiving, extending into the tire cord, and less than 15 inches apart; (2) more than one puncture, cut, break, or other injury that requires a repair patch or section repair over one-half of the tread cross-section in any direction after skiving; or (3) any cord damage outside the tread area (Conn. Agencies Reg. § 14-137-4, -7).
Federal motor carrier safety regulations prohibit a vehicle from being operated in interstate commerce on any tire that: (1) has a body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall, (2) has any tread or sidewall separation, (3) is flat or has an audible leak, or (4) has a cut that exposes the ply or belt material. Tires on the front of a bus or truck must have a tread depth of at least 2/16 of an inch; other tires must have at least 1/16 of an inch tread depth. Buses cannot have regrooved, recapped, or retreaded tires on the front wheels. Trucks can be operated with regrooved tires on the front wheels if they have a load capacity at least equal to that of an 8.25 x 20, 8 ply rated tire. There is no stipulation in the regulations with respect to recapped or retreaded tires, so it appears that they are allowed on trucks as long as the other requirements are met (49 CFR § 393.75).
The construction and performance of new motor vehicle tires is governed by federal standards. Federal regulations also require that tires of adequate size and load rating are used on motor vehicles of different types. One part of these regulations specifies that in place of new tires that meet the federal standards, trucks, buses, or trailers may be equipped by the manufacturer, at the request of the purchaser, with retreaded or used tires owned or leased by the purchaser. This is allowed if the sum of the maximum load ratings of the tires meets the regulatory standards that apply to new tires that otherwise would have to be used. If used tires are ordered, they must have originally been manufactured to comply with the federal standard and have the appropriate informational symbols and codes (49 CFR § 571.120, S5.1.3). This is the only reference to retreaded tires that we were able to locate in the tire standards.