Driving with the Wrong Size Tires

Driving with the wrong size tires can cause lasting and expensive damage to your car or truck, and increase the chances of a life-threatening accident.


A picture of several tires

Driving with the wrong size tires can cause lasting and expensive damage to your car or truck, and increase the chances of a life-threatening accident. Keep in mind that all vehicles are tested for safety with the correct sized tires. When a driver chooses to install tires that are too thick, too thin, too tall, or too small, or unknowingly purchases wrong size tires from an unscrupulous retail tire store or auto repair center, they put themselves, their passengers, and fellow drivers at serious risk.

Dangers of Using the Wrong Size Tires

There are several dangers to driving with the wrong size tires. The dangers include:

  • Rollovers due to tires that are too large for the vehicle.
  • Control issues due to tires that are too thin (especially in inclement weather).
  • Issues with supporting the weight of a vehicle due to tires that are too small.
  • Steering issues caused by too large a tire rubbing against the inside of the wheel well.
  • Braking issues, including too quick or too slow of a stop due to tires being too thick or too thin for the vehicle and its brake pads.

Although the consumer should take care to determine the correct tire size for their vehicle, if the information on the vehicle’s tire information label is incorrect, they may inadvertently have the wrong sized tire installed and put their safety, and the safety of their passengers and fellow drivers, at risk.

Although the consumer should take care to determine the correct tire size for their vehicle, if the information on the vehicle’s tire information label is incorrect, they may inadvertently have the wrong sized tire installed and put their safety, and the safety of their passengers and fellow drivers, at risk.

The Risk is Real

The risk for unknowingly having the wrong sized tires installed on your vehicle is real, especially if the very information drivers rely on when purchasing correct tires is erroneous. Is it possible for a new car or truck leave the manufacturer, after inspection, with incorrect tire size information? Unfortunately, yes.

This summer, Nissan North America recalled 110 2015 Nissan Rogue Select SUVs manufactured November 17, 2014, to December 12, 2014, and equipped with 17-inch wheels. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that incorrect tire sizes appeared on the vehicle’s labels, increasing the chances of installing wrong sized tires. Fortunately, no accidents were linked to the recall, and Nissan did the right thing in sending owners of the Nissan Rogue Select SUV new labels with the correct tire size information.

So how can drivers ensure that they are purchasing correctly sized tires? The first step is to understand how to read the tire size information on the sidewall of your tires.

Are You Using the Right Tire Size?

How do you determine what size tires to buy? Compare the information that appears on the sidewall of your tire with the information that appears on the tire information sticker inside the driver’s side door. This helpful and detailed tire information also appears in your vehicle owner’s manual. If there are inconsistencies between the information that appears on your tire, and the information that you see on the label inside the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual, it’s very likely you have the wrong size tires installed.

The information on the sidewall of your tire is divided into three sections:

  • Tire Type (P for passenger metric, LT for light truck, T for temporary spare, and ST for special trailers.)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety Code (This includes your tire’s identification number.)
  • Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) (This refers to tread wear, traction, and temperature.)

The tire information label will typically include your tires’ original size along with front and rear inflation pressure. To confirm that you have the correctly sized tires installed on your vehicle, compare the Tire Type information with the original size information that appears on the label and in the owner’s manual.

Are You Using the Right Tire Size?

If you are the victim of an accident due to unknowingly driving on wrong size or otherwise defective tires, contact the team at Willis Law Firm. For over 30 years, attorney David P. Willis has helped the victims of accidents and rollovers due to defective tires. Fill out our online form or call us at 1-800-883-9858 to schedule a free consultation.

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