NO SUCH THING as a DOT Approved UTV/ATV Tire

There is NO SUCH THING as a DOT Approved UTV/ATV Tire: Here's Why

If you're looking for DOT-approved UTV or ATV tires, you're out of luck – and that's by design. Here's why these off-road warriors don't carry the DOT stamp:

  • Built for the Wild, Not the Road: UTVs and ATVs are classified as off-highway vehicles (OHVs). They're designed for tackling rough terrain, not cruising down public roads [1]. The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets safety standards specifically for tires used on streets and highways [1]. Since UTVs and ATVs aren't built for on-road use, their tires aren't subject to these regulations.
  • DOT Approval: A Street-Legal Signifier: The DOT symbol signifies a tire meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for on-road performance [1]. These standards address factors like tread wear, traction, and durability at highway speeds – factors less crucial for off-road adventures. Because UTVs and ATVs aren't street-legal vehicles, their tires wouldn't require this approval [1].

Mislabeled UTV/ATV Tires Are a No-Go

It's important to note that the NHTSA prohibits manufacturers from labeling UTV or ATV tires as DOT-approved or FMVSS-compliant [1]. This is because such labeling misrepresents the tire's intended use and could mislead consumers about its safety on public roads [1].

The Alternative: LT Tires for Limited Street Use

In some cases, you might need to operate your UTV or ATV on limited stretches of public roads to reach trails or access loading areas. If that's the case, and DOT approval is a priority, consider exploring Light Truck (LT) tires in a size comparable to your UTV/ATV tires. Here's why LT tires might be a suitable alternative:

  • DOT-Approved for Street Use: LT tires are designed for use on trucks and SUVs, and they carry the DOT symbol signifying compliance with FMVSS regulations [1]. This means they're built and tested for safety on paved surfaces.
  • Similar Sizing Options: Many LT tires come in sizes that overlap with common UTV/ATV tire sizes. Ensure proper fitment by consulting your owner's manual or a tire professional before making the switch.

Important Considerations:

  • Limited Street Use Only: Remember, LT tires are not replacements for dedicated UTV/ATV tires for off-road adventures. Their tread design and construction may not offer the same level of performance or durability on rough terrain. Use them only for short, necessary stretches of public road travel.
  • Consult a Tire Professional: Discuss your specific needs and intended use with a qualified tire professional. They can help you find LT tires in the right size and with features suitable for your limited on-road travel needs, while still prioritizing off-road capability.

The Bottom Line:

While there are no DOT-approved UTV/ATV tires, LT tires in a comparable size can be a viable option if you need limited street use with your off-road vehicle. Always prioritize UTV/ATV-specific tires for off-road adventures and consult a professional for guidance on finding the right fit for your needs.


The Official NHTSA and FMVSS statement on this subject reads

According to 49 U.S.C. § 30102, a “motor vehicle” is defined as: (7) ‘‘motor vehicle’’ means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line. 

Based on this definition, there are no FMVSS that apply to UTV or ATV tires, because UTVs and ATVs are not manufactured for use on public roadways. Additionally, 49 C.F.R. § 574, Tire Identification and Recordkeeping states:

49 C.F.R. § 574.5(e)(1) - The DOT symbol constitutes a certification that the marked tire conforms to an applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. And:

49 C.F.R. § 574.5(e)(3) – The DOT symbol must not appear on tires to which no Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard is applicable.