Tire Rationing in World War II

During World War II the government’s demand for rubber to use almost exclusively for defense purposes caused the need to ration tires on the home front. The Office of Price Administration (OPA) in Washington D.C. regulated the quota and the rules for tires and tubes issued to each county.

During World War II the government’s demand for rubber to use almost exclusively for defense purposes caused the need to ration tires on the home front. The Office of Price Administration (OPA) in Washington D.C. regulated the quota and the rules for tires and tubes issued to each county.

It became necessary to get a certificate when a tire was needed and purchased. The certificate had to be used for that month and couldn’t be carried over to the following month. In January 1942 Daviess County’s allotment was 12 car tires and innertubes and 25 truck tires and innertubes.
The OPA started the Tire Purchase Plan.

Under the plan gasoline rations would be denied to those with more than five passenger cars with more than five tires on each car. If a person had passenger tire trailers, they could have one tire for each running wheel without forfeiting the right to buy gasoline.

The procedure for purchasing new tires required several steps. First, the vehicle the tire was purchased for had to be inspected and an application form filled out. The form would be taken to Gallatin’s rationing board. The board would issue a necessary permit upon proof the tire was needed.

The dealer couldn’t sell a new tire or tube without the certificate. The old tire had to be sold in five days and the certificate had to be approved by the local board. Upon completion of the sale, the dealer could get a new replacement tire for wholesale purposes. The new tire couldn’t be used on any other piece of machinery or vehicle other than the one purchased for and violation of the law meant punishment by the federal government.

No other certificate could be issued unless it was for:

1. An ambulance;

2. Vehicles used specifically for fire fighting, professional services used by a physician, surgeon, visiting nurse or a veterinarian;

3. Vehicles used for fire fighting, police service to regulate laws exclusively relating to public health and safety, garbage disposal and other sanitary services, and mail service.

4. On vehicles with a capacity of 10 or more passengers for regular transportation, students and teachers, employees of any mining or construction work.

Due to the tire shortage of grade III tires, the government released two million usable tires. Some needed repair while others could be used in national emergencies without repair. Large orders were placed with the large company stores and exclusive tire dealers in the larger cities, but very few orders were received from the small dealers in the farming areas where the most critical tire shortage existed.

Local dealers were advised to urge framers to get their orders in quickly because of the high demand that might last 60 to 90 days. Any dealer could purchase from 25 to 100 of these tires for immediate delivery. An “O” would be branded on the sidewall and sold at a price not to exceed a dollar.

Some tires were later retread and recapped, but since the lack of crude rubber used in making the compound was limited it greatly curtailed any great supply. The process to obtain one of the tires was similar to that of purchasing a new one. No applicant would be granted to anyone who had more than one car or truck unless the tires on both machines were worn out.

By June 1943 the drive for scrap rubber had resulted in an accumulation large enough to meet the needs for months to come and the drive was discontinued.

— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin