The California Air Resources Board recently issued a reminder to drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) that as of Jan. 1 2013, 2010 and older tractors that pull 53-foot dry van or refrigerated trailers MUST use SmartWay verified low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires or retreads in that state.

What are low rolling resistance tires?

Low rolling resistance tires are defined in this regulation as tires designed to improve the fuel efficiency of tractor-trailers by minimizing their rolling resistance. As tires roll under the vehicle’s weight, they deflect and disperse energy into heat. The rolling resistance of a tire is the energy lost per unit distance traveled as the tire rolls under load. A tire with less rolling resistance is more fuel efficient than one with greater rolling resistance. The goal of requiring SmartWay verified tires on tractors and trailers is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by achieving a fuel consumption savings of at least 3% from the tractor-trailer combination.

Who does the regulation affect?

This regulation applies to ALL 53-foot or longer box-type trailers, including both dry-van and refrigerated-van trailers travelling and operating in California, and the heavy-duty tractors that pull them.

What are the tire requirements of this regulation?

This regulation requires affected tractors and trailers to use U.S. EPA SmartWay verified low rolling resistance tires when traveling in California.

The following table identifies which affected tractors and trailers must comply with the tire requirements and by what deadlines, and which vehicles may be exempt:


LRR Tires Required Compliance Deadline Exempt from LLR Tire Requirement
2011 MY and Newer Tractors (sleeper & day cab)


Yes 1/1/2010 Registered short-haul tractors
2011 MY and Newer Trailers


Yes 1/1/2010 Registered storage trailers, or any trailer pulled by exempt short-haul tractors
2010 or older MY Tractors


Yes 1/1/2013 Registered short-haul tractors
2010 or older MY Trailers


Yes 1/1/2017 Registered storage trailer, or any trailers pulled by exempt short haul-tractors


A list of the 34 SmartWay approved tires can be accessed at If a tire model is not listed, then the tire cannot be used to comply with this regulation. The SmartWay program updates the list periodically.

Are there any other exemptions from the low rolling resistance tire requirements?

Short term exemptions from the SmartWay tire requirements are available for limited purposes such as relocation of a storage trailer, transfer of ownership of a trailer, and moving a non-compliant tractor. These short term exemptions (typically for a maximum of three days) require applying to ARB for a temporary “pass.”

In addition, and exception has been made for tractors with new or retreaded non-SmartWay tractor tires that are manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2013; these can continue to be used for the useful life of the tire tread, or until Jan. 1, 2015, whichever comes first.

Can retreaded tires be used and still comply with the regulation?

Yes. The SmartWay program is working to establish specifications for verified retreaded tires. Once those specifications are in place, fleets will be required to use those tires to comply with the regulation (or use new SmartWay verified tires). Until SmartWay verified retreads are available, fleets must use either a new SmartWay verified tire, or a retread on a casing from a SmartWay verified tire. As shown in the table above, fleets will have until 2017 before their 2010 and older model year trailers will need to meet the tire requirements. Until then, fleets may continue to use non-SmartWay retreads.

What is the cost difference between low rolling resistance tires and conventional tires?

The price differential to upgrade to verified tires is minimal. In addition, SmartWay verified tires offer fuel savings compared to other tires. The average cost to replace radial tires with low rolling resistance tires ranges between $0 to $50 per tire. This difference will easily be recouped through the fuel savings earned from using the more fuel efficient low rolling resistance tires.

Need more info?

The California Air Resources Board has many useful fact sheets, compliance tools, and regulatory documents,  all of which can be found on their  website.

CARB Reminds Truckers about New Tire Requirements was last modified: by