Mechanic refused to rotate my tires because the tread was too low

I had my car in and the mechanic refused to rotate the tire because the tread was less than 3/32". He told me it was against the law to put a “non-roadworthy tire” back on a car. I have a hard time believing that statement. Can you tell me if there are any laws relating to this situation?

Most states make the tire illegal to use on the road at 2/32 inch tread depth. That’s when these little wear bars are flush with the tread. The picture below shows Barely legal tire tread. The bottom line; if the tires are at the wear bars, even if the state doesn’t say they are illegal, they are not safe to drive if it rains.

No idea about the state laws where ever you are but you should be glad that they are looking out for your safety. This makes wonder if your other tires are needing replaced because of wear or age . Yes , the age of tires matters.

Are you asking out of curiosity or are you trying to stubbornly keep these tires? I hope it’s not the second case, as they’re unsafe to you and the others who you might crash into.

Regardless of any laws, I’d say it’s likely that this is a rule that he has to follow for insurance purposes. If he touches the tires and you crash after that, given the way people misuse the legal system these days, he could end up facing a lawsuit.

1 Like

I was looking to rotate the front tires to the back until we can afford to replace the tires (will be very soon). The car was bought used a few months ago. We haven’t had any of the wear bars show or signal yet and the tread is the lowest on the outside (a problem with all of the tires) where the mechanics measured the tread. Obviously needs to be aligned after the replacement. I think the replies have answered my question.

Your state might have a law against this, but more likely it’s against shop policy to touch dangerous tires unless it’s to replace them. And that’s a smart policy, because the first thing a lot of people would do if the mechanic did rotate the tire and they crashed the car is sue the mechanic for putting a dangerous tire back on the car.


Simple solution - replace these (apparently) worn out tires.

And I agree with the others - there may not be a law, but the shop probably has a (very reasonable) policy not to touch potentially unsafe tires. He may have been told there’s a law by his boss, just to make sure he doesn’t touch them.

1 Like

I’m not sure exactly when “will be very soon” is, but I’d save the money from the rotation and make the “very soon” more like ASAP.

Meanwhile be very cautious operating the vehicle, particularly on wet roads (no high speeds) because the danger of hydro-planning and losing control will be greater. Deeper grooves in the tread are needed to help channel water out from under the tire contact area.

Also, I can’t ascertain whether it’s just the front tires that are being considered unsafe and not so much the rear ones, but the fact that “the tread is the lowest on the outside (a problem with all of the tires) where the mechanics measured the tread” is problematic.

Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a tire tread is only as good as its most worn area. The mechanic should be commended for measuring the tread wear at its worst points and advising you of a safety issue.

Your thinking of replacing the tires and getting an alignment at the same time is the proper route to take.

It’s not clear which tires are where, but keep in mind that if the tires aren’t equal then the best tires always go in the back for safety reasons.