SACRAMENTO, Calif.-California has a law banning all heavy truck tires that do not bear the Department of Transportation (DOT) symbol. And there are signs some California highway patrolmen are trying to enforce it. For retreaders, nearly all of whom use imported casings, this rule could prove ruinous, and industry representatives are negotiating with officials of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to get it rescinded or modified.
``At the present time, it's just a very isolated thing,'' said Harvey Brodsky, director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau. ``In fact, we've only heard from one person whose tires were flunked during a truck inspection. But the potential is very frightening.''
Title XIII of the California Vehicle Code requires, among other things, that all truck tires meet federal safety standards, and the DOT symbol is recognized in the code as the sole proof they have been met. Retreaders' DOT identification numbers molded in the sidewall won't do.
Complicating the issue is a separate 1972 regulation for steering-axle retreads which states retreads sold for steer-axle use must bear a brand that retreaders can buy from the California Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-North or -South.
``If you retread a tire in Kentucky and it is sold for steer-ing-axle use in California without the California Tire Dealers brand, you will be ticketed,'' said Marvin Bozarth, executive director of the American Retreaders' Association.
Mr. Brodsky siad there are two circumstances in the retread industry's favor regarding the DOT rule: the CHP rarely has more than 60 seconds to inspect a truck at an inspection station, and retreads using imported casings are so prevalent that the DOT symbol rule is virtually unenforceable.
Nevertheless, the potential damage the California law could do has retreaders very concerned. ``It could really bring our industry to a halt, and it would be a nightmare for the trucking industry,'' Mr. Brodsky said.
Representatives of the retread industry presented a tentative proposal for changing the law to CHP officials in Sacramento Oct. 20. Besides Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Bozarth, the industry representatives included Stephanie McCoubrey, executive director of the CTDRA-North, and John D. Wood-land Jr., executive vice president-global business development for Oliver Rubber Co.
Mr. Brodsky said a marking system is needed for casings without the DOT symbol to demonstrate their safety and durability.
``We don't want to unnecessarily burden the retread industry, but we must have assurance'' the tires are safe, a CHP spokesman said.
Because of the many steps required in the regulatory process, it will take the CHP at least a year to consider the retread industry's proposal. Until then, the industry wants a moratorium on the DOT symbol rule until Jan. 1, 1996.
The length of the CHP's deliberation is not unusual. In 1991, Mr. Brodsky headed a task force to revise and modernize the steer axle retread branding rule.
It presented a workable solution to the CHP two years ago, he said. ``We're still waiting for them to act on it.''