Which Tires are Made in the USA?
The industrial world is increasingly the province of multinational corporations. The call to “Buy American” has been met with muddy results over the past decade as major automakers from almost every country involved in the production of automobiles build vehicles at plants located both inside and outside of the United States.
Tires are in a similar boat. Major players in the tire industry that are headquartered outside of the United States include Michelin, Continental, Yokohama and Bridgestone, but each of these companies also manufactures tires within American borders. Many of these U.S. soil tire plants were acquired as part of brand buyouts, such as Michelin’s purchase of Uniroyal-Goodrich and Bridgestone’s acquisition of Firestone. Even Yokohama has a plant in Virginia, giving an American dimension to its primarily Japanese operations.
The question is, which tires are made in the USA?
Homegrown tire makers Goodyear and Cooper are still operating extensive factories in the United States. These two conglomerates also own a number of sub-brands that are marketed as independent, including Dunlop and Kelly Springfield.
Companies which have yet to establish tire plants in the United States include Korean manufacturers Hankook, Nexen and Kumho, Japanese builders Falken, Federal, Toyo and Sumitomo (although partnered with Goodyear) and Taiwanese tire brands such as Nankang. Other extra-U.S. tire companies include hold-outs such as Pirelli (Italy) and Nokian (Finland).
Trying to pick apart the intricate web of corporate alliances and factory locations that dominate the tire industry is a difficult and confusing task. Fortunately, there is a relatively straight-forward way to tell where the tires you are considering buying were manufactured, thanks to the intervention of the U.S. Department of Transportation. All tires sold in the U.S. are required to display an alpha-numeric code that when broken down describes the place of origin of that specific set of rubber. The code starts with DOT and is then followed by eight letters and numbers, arranged in an XX XXX XXX pattern.
The first two letters represent the place of manufacture – for example, DOT AN XXX XXX identifies a tire built at B.F. Goodrich’s Alabama plant. A complete list of the tire codes associated with American production facilities can be found at the following link. It is also possible to look up specific tire manufacturer information on the NHTSA website.
Finding an American-made tire is no longer as simple as memorizing a list of U.S.-based manufacturers – the realities of the global economy have created a diaspora of tire production facilities around the world. If buying an American-made tire is important to you, then you will most likely have to look past brand names and use the DOT coding system to ensure that the tires you are interested in were actually built within U.S. borders.
Filed Under: Tundra Wheels and Tires