Law & Order

Minnesota Joins List of States Banning Lead Wheel Weights

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

As of January 1, 2016, it will be illegal to sell, distribute or install a wheel weight in Minnesota that contains lead or mercury. The law also requires proper recycling of lead- or mercury-based weights removed from vehicles. California, Illinois, New York, Maine, Vermont and Washington have already enacted laws banning the manufacture, sale and use of lead weights.

The automakers no longer use lead weights as original equipment, and the three major manufacturers of wheel weights in the United States stopped distributing lead weights in 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a voluntary nationwide initiative in 2008 and may eventually issue a mandatory federal ban. The weights have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Automakers, tire makers and the aftermarket are turning to three main substitute materials—steel, zinc or composites.

The bans are being pursued over concerns that they may contaminate metal recycling efforts or pose environmental hazards. If lead weights fall off tires, they may be ground into fine dust particles and turn into lead oxides, hydroxides or bicarbonates. The lead particles and chemical combinations may risk contaminating surface and ground water supplies. 

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at