Automotive Tire Safety

When customers choose Maxxis, they’re getting a product designed to deliver safety along with performance. But even the best tires must be used with caution and with close attention to safe practices. Following the guidelines and recommendations below will help to reduce the chance of accident or injury.

  • Always refer to the vehicle’s tire information placard.
    • It is preferable to replace a vehicle’s tires with ones that correspond to the vehicle’s manufacturer-recommended specifications. Tire speed ratings and load–carrying capacity should always be equal to or greater than the original equipment tires.
  • Service Description
    • Most tires have a service description that appears at the end of the tire size. This service description has a two-digit number which represents the load index, and a letter which represents the speed rating. Example: 86H. The load index represents the maximum load each tire is designed to carry at the tire’s maximum inflation pressure.
  • Speed Rating
    • Speed ratings are certified sustained speed designations assigned to passenger car radials and high performance tires. In the U.S., these ratings are based on tire testing in laboratory conditions under simulated loads. For a tire to be speed-rated, it must meet certain minimum government standards for reaching and maintaining that specified speed. Any speed symbol denoting a fixed maximum speed capability will be at the end of the service description following the load index.
    • Tire installers should refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual to identify any tire speed rating restriction or recommendation that could affect the operation of the vehicle. If the replacement tires have a lower speed rating than what is specified as original equipment, the consumer should be aware that the vehicle’s speed must be restricted to that of the replacement tires. Maxxis does not recommend mixing tires of different speed ratings on a vehicle.
      • Note: Speed ratings apply only to the tire, not to the vehicle. Putting speed-rated tires on any vehicle does not mean that the vehicle can be operated at the tire’s rated speed. Refer to the vehicle’s operating manual for specific information.
  • Ply Rating vs. Load Range
    • Ply ratings and load ranges denote the load capability and inflation limits of a given tire size when used in a specified type of service.
      • Ply Rating: An older method of rating load capacity. These are shown as 4-ply rated, 6-ply rated, 8-ply rated, etc.
      • Load Range: This is the current method of rating the tire’s load-carrying capacity and is denoted by letters: B, C, D, E, etc.
  • Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG)
    • The UTQG, which is required by the government, provides comparative manufacturer information. Tires are subjected to a series of government-mandated tests that measure performance of treadwear, traction and temperature resistance. All testing is done by the individual manufacturer.
      • Treadwear: A measurement of tread durability. Tested against an industry standard, the assigned numerical grade indicates how well the tread lasts compared to a reference of 100. Actual wear depends on the conditions under which the tire is used. Driving habits, vehicle maintenance, road surface differences and climate variations all affect treadwear.
      • Traction: A measurement of the tire’s ability to stop on wet test surfaces of asphalt and concrete under controlled conditions. Traction grades are assigned by the UTQG system and branded on the sidewall of the tire. The traction grade is determined only for straight-ahead wet braking. It does not include cornering, which might be important for customer performance needs.
      • Temperature (resistance): a measure of resistance to heat generation under normal operating conditions. The test is conducted under predetermined standards for inflations and loading. Excessive speed, under-inflation and overloading can all cause adverse heat build-up. Sustained high temperatures can reduce tire durability. Temperature grades are branded on the sidewall of the tire.
  • DOT (Department of Transportation) Certification
    • A DOT brand on the tire’s sidewall indicates that the tire has been certified by the Department of Transportation. Following the DOT brand is a serial number that denotes the tire’s manufacturer, the manufacturing plant, tire size code and date of manufacture. While consumer tire registration is voluntary, federal law requires that the selling dealer record the DOT identification numbers and provide the DOT registration form to the consumer.
  • Mounting Procedures
    • Be sure to observe the following when mounting Maxxis tires:
      • Lubricate both top and bottom beads with an approved lubricant. Never exceed 40 PSI to seat the beads.
      • Both tire beads should be securely seated on the rim.
      • Always replace a tire with another tire of the same bead diameter designation and suffix letters.
      • A new valve stem should be installed in the rim each time a worn tire (passenger or light truck) is replaced.
      • Never put any flammable substance in the tire/rim assembly at any time. Never use any flammable substance in a tire/rim assembly and attempt to ignite in order to seat the beads.
      • Be sure that the wheel is securely seated on the hub face.
      • Do not stand, lean or reach over the assembly during inflation.
      • Be sure that all lug nuts have been properly torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications.
      • Be sure that there is no build-up of dirt or debris between the hub and the wheel.
      • Be sure that the wheel is not bent or damaged. The wheel should not be used if:
        • The flange is bent.
        • The welds or rivets are leaking.
        • The stud holes are elongated (rather than round).
        • The wheel has more than 1/16” radial or lateral run-out.
      • Matching tires on four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles: special attention should be paid to ensure that all four tires are closely matched in height and width to avoid strain and possible damage to the vehicle. Tire inflation pressure also affects the tire’s rolling circumference and should be matched according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Always check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations prior to installing new tires.
    • Warning: improper mounting, under-inflation, overloading or tire damage may result in tire failure, which may lead to serious injury or death. Tire and rim sizes must correspond for proper fit and application.
    • Warning: Tire changing can be dangerous and should be done only by trained persons using proper tools and procedures as established by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Failure to comply with proper procedures may result in incorrect positioning of the tire or wheel assembly which could cause the assembly to explode with enough force to cause serious physical injury or death. Never mount or use damaged tires.
  • If replacing fewer than four tires:
    • It is always preferred and Maxxis recommends that ALL FOUR tires be replaced at the same time to optimize vehicle performance. In those cases where it is not feasible to install four new tires at the same time, some general guidelines are below. However, if the vehicle manufacturer has alternate recommendations, always follow those guidelines.
      • Replacing two tires: When only two new tires are purchased, they should be installed on the rear axle, as long as the new tires have a speed rating equal to or greater than the speed rating as compared to the front tires. Generally, new tires will provide better grip and evacuate water more effectively, which is important when a driver encounters hydroplaning situations. When placed on the rear axle, new tires or tires with deeper tread depth than the front tires provide greater traction on wet surfaces. This can also help prevent a possible oversteer condition and loss of vehicle stability.
      • Replacing one tire: While not recommended, if a single tire replacement is unavoidable, it is best to pair the new tire with the tire that has the deepest tread, and that both be placed on the rear axle. When placed on the rear axle, new tires or tires with deeper tread depth than the front tires provide greater traction on wet surfaces. This can also help prevent a possible oversteer condition and loss of vehicle stability.
  • Use the tire inspection chart below to look for signs of damage or wear to your tires. Note: Never install tires at an inflation pressure lower than what is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Tire Speed Rating Chart
    • The rating system shown below displays the top speed for which a tire is certified. It does not indicate the total performance capacity of a tire. This information will not be found on all tires. The speed rating denotes the speed for which a tire was designed to be driven for extended periods.

 Tire _Inspection _Chart (1)

 

Rating Symbol

Speed (km/h)

Speed (mph)

B

50

31

C

60

37

D

65

40

E

70

43

F

80

50

G

90

56

J

100

62

K

110

68

L

120

75

M

130

81

N

140

87

P

150

93

Q

160

99

R

170

106

S

180

112

T

190

118

U

200

124

H

210

130

V

240

149

W

270

168

Y

300

186

ZR

Over 240

Over 150


For tires having a maximum speed capability above 149 mph (240 km/h), a "ZR" may appear in the size designation. For tires having a maximum speed capability above 186 mph (300 km/h), a "ZR" must appear in the size designation, including a “Y” speed symbol in brackets. Example: P275/40R17 93W at 168 mph (270km/h) or P275/40ZR17 at above 149 mph (240 km/h).

Tire Safety

  • Riding on worn tires can cause loss of traction, leading to an accident and possible serious injury.

    Replace your tires when there is only 2/32" of tread depth remaining!

All DOT-approved tires have a tread-wear indicator bar woven into the tread pattern. While this small piece of rubber appears to be a bridge between the two tire grooves, it is only 2/32” high. When the top of this indicator bar is even with the planeof the tread pattern, replace your tires.

Another way to judge this indicator: Stick a penny, head down, in the tread. Seeing the top of Lincoln’s head means that you’re down to 2/32” and your tires must be replaced.
For optimum safety, especially in wet conditions, replace your tires when you have 4/32” of tread remaining.

  • Always choose the original size or the size recommended by your manufacturer when replacing your tires. Replacing tires of different speed ratings, sizes or construction could lead to improper tire performance, tire failure and accident, causing possible serious injury or death.

Changing the size of your tire’s height, width, load capacity and/or tread design can change your tire’s performance.

  • If you must use tires of differing profiles, mount the widest tires on the rear of the vehicle.
  • Don’t mix radial and non-radial tires. If you mix radial and non-radial tires, you may have trouble with consistent handling. Handling problems can lead to loss of vehicle control, accidents, injuries and death.
  • If you must measure the width of your tires, be sure that the tires are mounted on a rim recommended by the Tire and Rim Association (T&RA) at the specified tire pressure.


Depending on a tire’s construction, if a tire is mounted on a too narrow or too wide a rim, the tire’s profile will be changed. The resulting change can unbalance and stress the tire’s body and lead to poor performance, tire failure, accidents, injury and/or death.

  • Never use P-metric automotive tires as replacements for light truck tires or on a vehicle equipped with dual-rear tires. Each tire is manufactured with a specific speed rating and load requirements to ensure proper vehicle use.
  • Damaged or incorrectly mounted tires can suddenly fail, causing serious injury or death.Tires should only be repaired by professionals!
  • NEVER OVERLOAD YOUR TIRES! Overloading can cause a range of problems – everything from poor handling and poor mileage to failure of vehicle components or tire failure. Tire failure can cause accidents, leading to serious injuries and death. Check your owner’s manual to be sure that you’re within safety limits for the load your tires can handle. If you’re having tires mounted, be sure to check the load limit of the tires to be mounted. The load index of the replacement tires should always meet or exceed the maximum load of the original tires.
  • Proper tire inflation is essential! Your vehicle cannot handle its load without the right amount of air pressure – and the results could be disastrous, including accidents, serious injuries and death. Most tire failures are caused by under-inflation. Proper inflation is also essential for your vehicle’s performance. Unless your tires are properly inflated, you won’t get the best gas mileage from your vehicle. In fact, you could lose as much as 5% of your car’s optimum mileage by failing to properly inflate your tires.


Check your tire pressure at least once a month, and always check before long trips. Use a tire gauge, and be sure that your tires are still cold when you check them. If your vehicle still has its original tires, use the optimum pressure specified by the vehicle manufacturer as a guide. If you’ve replaced your tires, check with your dealer regarding optimum tire pressure.REMEMBER:Your tires can be under-inflated long before you can see or feel any change. Don’t trust your eyes, and don’t trust your vehicle’s feel; trust a tire gauge!

  • NEVER SPIN YOUR TIRES! Being stuck in mud or snow can be frustrating – but if you spin your tires, being stuck can be dangerous. Your tire might be spinning much faster than your speedometer indicates, causing injury or death as well as damage to your vehicle. A tire spinning off the ground presents an equal or greater hazard. NEVER STAND BEHIND OR CLOSE TO A SPINNING TIRE!
  • Excess speed is a danger to your tires, your vehicle and your safety! Driving above the speed limit can stress your tires, leading to sudden tire failure.
  • Remember that a mini-spare tire is a temporary fix, and is NOT designed to be ridden for long periods of time! NEVER drive over 50 miles per hour when using a mini-spare tire. Have a new tire installed as soon as possible.
  • Check the inflation in your spare tire as well. Spare tires lose air pressure over time. You don’t want to discover that your spare tire is under-inflated when you need it most.
  • You should also periodically replace your spare to prevent damage from aging.

Tire Maintenance and Information

  • Avoid irregular tire wear, which can contribute to poor tire performance and tire failure! Failing to rotate your tires at least every 6000-8000 miles also means that you’ll have to replace them much more quickly. Always refer to your owner’s manual for the rotation schedule and pattern specific to your vehicle.
  • Unbalanced tires, which can be caused by hitting curbs, potholes or other road hazards, affect your ride quality and tire life. You can usually detect an unbalanced tire through vibrations in the steering wheel at certain speeds. If you suspect that your tires may be unbalanced, have them inspected by a professional as soon as possibleto avoid excessive wear and damage to your vehicle’s front end parts.
  • Improper alignment will affect your car’s tire wear, gas mileage, stability and overall performance. Even if you haven’t noticed a problem, you should still have your car or truck aligned at least once a year as part of a regular maintenance program. If you think your vehicle might be out of alignment, your vehicle must be inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Have your tires inspected immediately if you notice any warning signs of improper alignment, which include the following:
    • Excessive or uneven wear
    • Steering wheel pulling to the left or right
    • Feeling of looseness or wandering
    • Steering wheel vibration or shimmy
    • Steering wheel isn’t centered when car is moving straight ahead
  • If you will not be using your tires for a long period, don’t leave them on your vehicle. Store unused tires in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and other elements which can accelerate tire aging over time.
  • If you’re using winter or snow tires, have them mounted on all four wheels. Using winter or snow tires only on the front of your vehicle is extremely dangerous and could lead to handling problems, loss of vehicle control, accident, injury and death.
  • Keep tires looking their best by cleaning with a mild soap or detergent and a semi-soft bristle brush. Rinse with clean, plain water.