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Land Transport Rule: Tyres and Wheels 2001

This rule sets requirements relating to tyres and wheels and their assembly with hubs and axles, on all motor vehicles and also on pedal cycles.

Rule versions

  • The ‘Current rule’ will give you the most up-to-date version of the Rule and any amendments made to it. We recommend this as your reference point if you want to read the most current information.
  • The ‘Original rule and amendments’ will give you the very first version of the rule (as it was when it was first created) as well as links to all amendments made to it over time. We recommend this page as your reference page if you want to research the history of the rule.

Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.

Questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.

Land Transport Rules – questions & answers

Land Transport Rule: Tyres and Wheels Amendment [(No 2) 2009]

(Rule 32013/5)

What are Land Transport Rules?

Rules are 'second tier' legislation (similar to regulations) that are written in plain language and go through an extensive consultation process with interested groups and the public. This is to ensure that they are easily understood and are widely complied with. Rules are made in respect of a wide range of matters covered by the Government policy statement for land transport funding.

Most Rules are drafted by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), under contract to the Ministry of Transport.

Land Transport Rules are made (signed into law) by the Minister of Transport.

What is the purpose of this amendment to Land Transport Rule: Tyres and Wheels 2001 (the Tyres and Wheels Rule)?

The Tyres and Wheels Rule sets out safety requirements and approved standards for tyres and wheels, and their assembly with hubs and axles, for motor vehicles and pedal cycles operating on New Zealand roads.

This amendment will make three changes to the Rule. These are:

  • inclusion of 'winter tyre' requirements;
  • inclusion of inspection requirements for visible cords in the tread area of radial ply heavy vehicle tyres;
  • removal of the requirement for labels on space-saver tyres to be approved by the NZTA.

What is a 'winter tyre'?

A winter tyre is a tyre designed principally for operation at temperatures below seven degrees Celsius (7°C). The sidewall of a winter tyre is sometimes marked with a symbol of a snowflake and a mountain and/or the word 'Studless'. 

What are the new winter tyre requirements?

The Rule amendment, first, defines a 'winter tyre'. It means a tyre which is principally designed to be operated at temperatures below 7°C and which may include a symbol depicting a snowflake and a mountain and/or the word 'Studless' marked in the sidewall. A winter tyre's tread pattern is distinctive, having deep square-patterned tread blocks which have small, slit-like grooves called 'sipes' that allow the blocks to flex for traction purposes at low temperatures.

In order to reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes arising from the use of winter tyres, the Rule amendment states that if a vehicle of Class MA, MB, MC, MD1, MD2 or NA (as defined in Table A in Part 2 of the Rule) is fitted with winter tyres, those tyres must be fitted to all road wheels of the vehicle.

The Rule amendment also specifies that the minimum tread depth of a winter tyre must be 4 mm. This requirement is based on tyre manufacturers recommendations for adequate performance in the snow. This will be checked at entry inspection and at in-service inspection (warrant of fitness or certificate of fitness).

Why are the changes relating to winter tyres required?

In recent years, four fatal crashes have occurred in which the mixing of winter tyres (also known as 'snow tyres') with other tyre types (summer/all season tyres), was identified as a contributing factor.

Subsequent testing of winter tyres at an Australian testing facility showed that mixing snow tyres and conventional tyres can make a vehicle unpredictable and difficult to control in the wet and/or during hard or emergency braking. This has led to this Rule amendment, which prohibits the mixing of winter tyres with other tyre types on light passenger and goods vehicles.

What are the changes to inspection requirements for visible cords in the tread area of radial-ply heavy-vehicle tyres?

The Rule has been amended to allow a vehicle inspector to pass a heavy vehicle tyre with exposed non-structural impact/penetration cords in the tread area if the tyre is safe. The vehicle inspector's decision may include taking into account a written statement from a tyre manufacturer, its authorised representative or a heavy vehicle tyre expert verifying its safety and serviceability.

Why has this change been made?

Radial-ply heavy-vehicle tyres are manufactured with a non-structural impact / penetration reinforcing belt embedded close to the tyre tread to protect the inner construction of the tyre from stones. Stones entering the tyre tread area can expose the cords of the reinforcing belt. Although this does not necessarily compromise the safety of the tyre, and, consequently, the vehicle, the Rule currently requires the vehicle to fail its Certificate of Fitness (CoF) inspection.

Vehicle inspectors may not have sufficient experience to determine whether or not the safety of a radial-ply, heavy vehicle tyre has been compromised by the presence of visible cords in the tread area. They would, therefore, benefit from using a tyre industry expert who has current specialist tyre knowledge and experience particularly in heavy vehicle inspection. These specialists make a decision on which tyres best suit the vehicle and budget of the operator, and whether a tyre can be repaired or retreaded. Giving vehicle inspectors discretion as to whether such tyres pass a CoF inspection, and allowing them to take specialist advice into consideration in determining this, could avoid the cost of safe tyres being unnecessarily rejected.

What are the changes to the label requirements on space-saver tyres?

The amendment Rule removes the requirement for the labels on temporary-use ("space saver") tyres to be approved by the NZTA. The other label requirements remain and will continue to be enforced at entry inspection and at WoF/CoF inspections.

Why have the requirements for space-saver labels to be approved by the NZTA been removed?

When space-saver tyres first entered the New Zealand market in significant numbers, many people were wary of them and public concern was expressed about their safety. This response was reinforced by two high-profile crashes that involved this type of tyre.

In fact, the problem is not the tyre itself, but incorrect usage. People did not realise that a space-saver tyre is intended only for temporary use, in an emergency to enable them to get their vehicle to a place where the normal tyre can be repaired or replaced. It is necessary to ensure that a space-saver tyre is correctly inflated (at a higher pressure than normal, larger tyres) and that the vehicle must not be driven above a maximum speed specified by the manufacturer.

In order to reinforce the message, the Tyres and Wheels Rule required that each space-saver wheel had a label stating what operating pressure is required, the maximum speed at which a vehicle with a space-saver tyre can be used and it should only be used temporarily. Initially, there was no standard format or content for the labels among different vehicle manufacturers and it was necessary for the label to be approved by the, then, Land Transport Safety Authority.

Will the Rule amendment result in increased compliance costs?

The changes to the Rule are not expected to produce any additional compliance costs. The removal of the requirement for the label on space-saver tyres to be approved by the NZTA will reduce the overall costs of complying with the Tyres and Wheels Rule.

When will the Rule amendment come into force?

The Rule amendment will come into force on 1 April 2010.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Penalties for non-compliance are set out in the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999. The regulations set $150 or $370 infringement fines for non-compliance with the Tyres and Wheels Rule and a maximum penalty of $500 upon summary conviction.

What is the statutory basis for the amendment Rule?

The Land Transport Act 1998 (the Act) provides for the Minister of Transport to make Land Transport Rules.

Section 155(a) and (b) of the Act states that Rules may set out standards and requirements concerning vehicles, including their construction, repair, maintenance, modification, and requirements concerning systems, components, devices, fittings, or equipment to be incorporated in the construction of, fitted to, or carried in or on motor vehicles, or to be used by the driver or any other person.

Where can I obtain a copy of the amendment Rule?

Printed bound copies of Land Transport Rules can be purchased from selected bookshops throughout New Zealand that sell legislation, or direct from the Rule printers and distributors, Wickliffe Limited, telephone (06) 358 8231. Final rules are available on our website.

Where can I get more information about the amendment Rule?

You can seek further information about the amendment Rule by calling the NZTA Contact Centre on 0800 699 000.

Last updated: 22 October 2009