Why ATV/UTV Tires Are No Longer “DOT Approved”

August 22, 2023 Aug 22 2023

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) informed tire dealers and distributors that some UTV and ATV tires sold in the U.S. are mislabeled and marketed as compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) when they should be categorized as “Not for Highway Service” (NHS) tires.

There is no legally permissible way to street legalize an ATV or UTV tire as there is no federal regulation or standard in the United States Federal Register.

UTV and ATV Tire Applications

ATV/UTV tires are designed and manufactured for specific conditions of use and service. Tires that have NHS in the tire size designation are designed for off-highway application and must not be used in normal highway service. NHS tires are not intended for the speeds, temperatures, or stresses of normal highway use. They are typically intended for farm, off-road, lawn and garden, and industrial applications.  However, more and more local jurisdictions are allowing UTV’s and other non-car/truck vehicles on their non-highway roads.  Always consult your local City/Township codes and ordinances (see below for some example regulations).

How to Identify NHS Tires

Federal regulations require that all tires designed and certified for highway service have the symbol “DOT” molded on the tire sidewall adjacent to the tire identification number. The DOT symbol constitutes a certification that the marked tire conforms to an applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS).

The DOT symbol must not appear on a tire to which no FMVSS is applicable. There is no FMVSS applicable to NHS-designated tires. If you are unsure whether to use a particular tire for an application, consult the tire manufacturer or tire service professional for more information.

Examples of regulations for use of UTV/ATV within certain cities and towns may include but is not exclusive to the following:

  • UTVs may only be operated on streets with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less but may not be operated on certain designated roads.
  • The maximum speed for UTVs is 35 mph.
  • UTVs shall not be operated on City trails, in City parks (except driveways and parking lots), sidewalks or public waterways (whether frozen or not).
  • Drivers must be 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. They must be able to provide proof of insurance and DNR registration if requested.
  • UTVs may only be operated on City streets between limited local hours.
  • Headlights and taillights must be on when the UTV is in motion.
  • UTVs must adhere to all traffic and parking laws and regulations applicable to other motor vehicles.
  • UTVs must be equipped with operational turn signals, speedometer, headlamps, tail lamps, brake lights and a rear-facing mirror.
  • UTVs must conform to noise ordinances.
  • Seat belts, infant car seats and child seats must be used while the UTV is in motion.
  • If so equipped, nets or doors on the UTV must be closed while in motion.
  • The number of passengers may not exceed the number of factory-installed seats.
  • Drivers shall not operate UTVs while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and no open containers of alcohol are allowed in the UTV while it is being operated.
  • UTVs will not be operated carelessly or recklessly including unnecessary skidding or sliding.

Click here to view the NHTSA letter regarding the topic including the specific code.

How to find ATV Tire size. The first Number is overall tire height. The second number is tire width. Last, the third number is rim diameter
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