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How To Properly Inspect Your Tires

Tire maintenance is important for complying with federal regulations, but it is also important to keep yourself and others on the road safe. The DOT’s FMCSA has several regulations for vehicles made for protecting drivers and surrounding communities. As a driver it is your responsibility to know the DOT tire regulations and have regular checks to make sure your equipment is always safe to operate.

Inspecting and maintaining your tires goes further than a quick lookover before heading out on the road. Per the DOT tire regulations, there are specific codes that fall into the Code of Federal Regulations which needs to be followed. What you should be checking for during your pre-trip inspections are tread depth, tire pressure and irregular wear.

Tread Depth:

Non steering tires: Groove depth of at least 2/32 of an inch

Steering tires: Groove depth of at least 4/32 of an inch

Measurements are to be taken at a “major tread groove”. It is important to check specific grooves that apply to the DOT regulations to know whether or not tires need maintenance.

Inflation Pressure And Flat Tires:

Following inflation pressure guidelines could prevent flat tires in the future. The DOT tire regulations from the FMCSA for inflation are:

No motor vehicle shall be operated on a tire that has a cold inflation pressure less than what is specified for the load being carried.

If the inflation pressure of the tire has been increased by heat because of the recent operation of the vehicle, the cold inflation pressure shall be estimated by subtracting the inflation buildup factor shown in the table below from the measured inflation pressure.


Minimum Inflation Pressure Buildup

Average Speed Of Vehicle In The Previous Hour

Tires with 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs.) maximum load rating or lessTires with over 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs.) load rating
66-88.5 km/ht (41-55) mph34.5 kPa (5 psi)103.4 kPa (15 psi)

Heat causes tire pressure to increase and can create inaccurate readings and under inflated tires on the road. This can eventually lead to flat tires and that comes with a high CSA score that could possibly put a vehicle out of operation.

Exposed Belt Material:

The CSA states that a vehicle is inoperable if it has a tire that:

  • Has a body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall
  • Has any tread or sidewall separation
  • Is flat or has an audible leak
  • Has a cut to the extent the ply or belt material is exposed

How To Interpret A CSA Score:

Tires fall under “Vehicle Maintenance” on the BASICs (Behavior, Analysis, Safety Improvement Categories) assessment. The information is gathered from roadside inspections to develop scores, which are weighed depending on the types of violations found.

Tire violations are some of the heaviest points possible on the CSA scale, 8 being the highest.

3-Point Tire Violations :

  • Re-grooved tires
  • Tire load weight rating
  • Under inflated tires


8-Point Tire Violations:

  • Flat tire
  • Exposed fabric, ply, or belt material
  • Tread or sidewall separation
  • Audible air leak
  • Cut that exposes ply or belt
  • Poor tread depth


Vehicle maintenance violations remain on your fleet’s record for 24 months and could affect your driving score as well.

The Importance Of Checking Your Tires:


Tires with good treads and pressure help your truck drive smoothly on the road. If your truck starts vibrating or pulling, check the tires for a lack of tread and any other damages.


Every driver’s top priority is to practice safe driving to protect themselves and everyone around them. Well kept tires give you better grip on the road; this is especially important in wet conditions and gives you the ability to stop faster.


Commercial trucks and trailers do a lot of work hauling freight around the country and are costly to replace. With regular tire checks; drivers, motor carriers, and fleet managers can stay ahead of issues and help your truck live a long life.

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