How To Properly Inspect Your Tires

By January 22, 2021 February 2nd, 2021 Safety, Tips

Tire maintenance is important, not just for complying with federal regulations, but also 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. With several regulations in the DOT tire standards it is important to understand how they may or may not affect drivers, carriers and the trailers you tow.

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 less Tires with over 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs.) load rating
66-88.5 km/ht (41-55) mph 34.5 kPa (5 psi) 103.4 kPa (15 psi)


Heat causes tire pressure to increase and can lead to 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 can possibly put a vehicle out of operation.

For commercial vehicles that have a defective tire, if the driver removes the defective tire from the axel, it is permissible for them to drive with three tires on an axel instead of four as long as the remaining tires do not exceed the maximum weight allowed under section 393.75.


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 you notice your truck vibrating or pulling, make sure to check your tires for damage or lack of tread


A driver’s top priority is to practice safe driving to protect themselves and other drivers. Tires that are well-maintained give you better grip on the road (especially in wet conditions), the ability to stop faster and could help prevent blown tires.


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 looming issues and prolong the life of your truck.