Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

California Law Prohibits the Manufacture, Sale or Distribution of Lead Wheel Weights Fact Sheet

June 2010*
Last updated May 2011

Lead can contaminate drinking water and is highly toxic, especially to children. Wheel weights that have fallen off during use, or that have been disposed of improperly, are a significant source of lead in drinking water.

As of January 1, 2010, anyone servicing or replacing tires in California must use weights of a material other than lead1. Manufacturers and distributors now sell weights made of steel, zinc alloy, and other materials as alternatives.

You should not discard your used or unused lead wheel weights in the trash or use them for any other purpose. You may contact your supplier to see if it will take back your lead wheel weights, or if you may have them recycled as scrap metal. Alternative weights should be recycled as well.

Proper Installation Reduces Losses on the Road

Proper wheel weight application is crucial to ensuring that the weight stays on the wheel during use. Because steel or zinc clip-on weights may not be as malleable as lead weights, the clip style must match the wheel flange. If the wrong clip is applied, it is more likely to fall off the wheel. If the weights do not easily clip onto the rim, check the application chart to find the appropriate weight, or apply an adhesive weight to the cleaned wheel.

Also, reusing clip-on weights is not advisable because the spring in the clip weakens after repeated application, which also increases the chances of it falling off. Wheel weight loss not only contaminates drinking water, but also leads to excessive tire wear and lower fuel mileage.

Buying Lead-Free Wheel Weights

It is important to purchase your weights through a reputable source that is aware of the lead ban because you will be held liable for the weights applied by your shop. A person violating this law may be penalized up to $2,500 per day per violation (see California Health and Safety Code Section 25215.8).

More Information & Contacts

For all other information, go to our Lead Wheel Weight web pages. You can also contact the DTSC Office nearest you or our Regulatory Assistance Officers at:

Toll-Free in CA: 800-728-6942 or 800 72-TOXIC
Outside CA: 916-324-2439

For a list of all DTSC offices, go to our Office Address and Phone Numbers web page.


1As of Jan. 1, 2010, California law (Health and Safety Code Section 25215.6) prohibits the manufacture, sale or installation of wheel weights that contain more than 0.1 percent lead.


This fact sheet does not replace or supersede relevant statutes and regulations. The information contained in this fact sheet is based upon the statutes and regulations in effect as of the date of the fact sheet. Interested parties should keep apprised of subsequent changes to relevant statutes and regulations.