Truck tyre legislation mainly depends on standards and European texts.
These regulations specifically define the various technical criteria that a truck tyre must satisfy as well as rules for fitting tyres and conditions of use.
Let’s take a look in detail at the rules and restrictions for fitting and mixing tyres depending on the type of structure, tyre sizes and ratings, the category of use, the brand and state of wear.
Current regulations specifically indicate the way in which tyres should be fitted on each axle.
On a same axle, it is mandatory to fit tyres of the same size. These sizes must themselves comply with those specified by the manufacturer for the vehicleat the time of type approval.
Load and speed ratings as well as the structure (radial, diagonal or cross-ply) must also be identical. These ratings cannot be lower that those specified by the vehicle’s manufacturer. However, if the vehicle is equipped with a speed limiter, the maximum speed set by the device can be taken into account to define the speed rating of tyres.
Furthermore, if the category of use of tyres (summer or winter) can vary from one axle to another, it must be identical on a same axle.
As for the tyre brand, it must be the same on either side of the axle. However, it is not mandatory (but only recommended) that tread profiles are identical.
Exception: on a same axle, a spare wheel fitted with a tyre that is not the same type as the others can be used temporarily.
It is possible to mix new and retreaded tyres on a same axle provided that strict rules are observed.
First of all, a tyre must be retreaded in an approved production unit, in accordance with the technical requirements of UN R109.
The casing and brand of the retreaded tyre must also be identical to that of the new tyre. In other words, it is only possible to fit a new tyre from brand A and casing A with a retreaded tyre from brand A on a casing A.
For a fitment that only comprises retreaded tyres, all wheels on the axle must be fitted with tyres from the same retread brand.
The structure of the tyre must be visible over the entire tread surface. No fabric should be visible anywhere on the tyre, including at the base of the tread, and there must be no deep cuts on the sidewalls.
A maximum tread groove difference of 5 millimetres is tolerated between two tyres on a same axle.
The groove depth measured at four different points must not be less than 1 millimetre at more than one of the four points, on a same tyre.
Exception: visible tread defects are tolerated on public works vehicles.
First of all, remember that a tyre can only be regrooved if designed for this purpose. In this case, thetyre must be marked with REGROOVABLE or an upside down Greek letter omega (Ω) on its sidewall.
Any person using a regrooved tyre must be able to provide proof of the regrooving service by showing an invoice.
From one country to another, regrooved tyres cannot be used or fitted in the same way. In most European Union countries, there are no restrictions as regards regrooved tyres, which can be fittedon all types of axle in the same way. However, this is not the case in Germany – where the use is prohibited on steer axles of buses capable of reaching 100 km/h –, in Austria and Russia where the use is prohibited on steer axles of all trucks, or in Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Hungary who also restrict their use and in Bulgaria where they are completely prohibited.
Winter tyres: legislation differs from one country to another
The obligation to respect categories of use due to seasonal issues (summer/winter tyres) depends on each country. In a same country, the regulation can itself vary from one region to another.
In general, the use of winter tyres is recommended as soon as the air temperature drops below 7°C.
In France, there is no general rule as to the use of winter tyres. However, like when the use of snow chains is required, winter tyres can be made compulsory temporarily on certain roads and indicated as such by road signs.
The use of studded tyres is regulated by Article R314-3 of the French Highway Code: it is prohibited to use studded tyre for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes except for specific exemptions granted by the Ministry of Transport for certain types of transport such as emergency services (fire brigade, doctors, ambulances...), vehicles transporting perishable or even hazardous goods or snow removal vehicles. In this case, the prefecture in your department will issue the carrier with special permission to fit studded tyres.
In Germany, winter tyres must be used when the situation requires them. In other words, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that his tyres are adapted to the weather conditions. If he does not abide with this rule, the driver may be fined 40 euros or even 80 euros if traffic is obstructed.
In Austria, winter tyres are mandatory on all roads from 1st November to 15th April.
In Italy, winter tyres are now mandatory throughoutthe country from 1st November to 15th April.
In Switzerland, vehicles are not obliged to be equipped with winter tyres but law enforcement officers can fine a vehicle driving on snow covered roads without suitable equipment. In the event of an accident, the driver of a non-equipped vehicle is most often held responsible.