Ford tire program unfair Ford Motor Co.'s ``Around-the-Wheel'' tire program for Ford and Mercury dealers is unfair and unreasonable. It's price fixing and discriminates against tire dealers who have to service and sell these tires. Since when are car dealers tire dealers?
John's & Sons Tire Service
Ford dealerships will soon realize this business isn't easy. Tire size proliferation, back-orders and low gross profit are just some of the wondrous things the tire business has to offer.
Today I received a call from a Ford dealership asking the price of some Michelins:
``Sure. What size?'' I asked.
``Are you looking for a particular model?''
``Yeah. Michelins,'' the caller answered.
``Yes, but which model Michelin?''
``Ummm, the cheapest one.''
I welcome the ``Around-the-Wheel'' progam—if for no other reason than to show Ford and others just how difficult it is to do this business right.
Ford Motor Co.'s ``Around-the-Wheel'' program for car dealerships is not its first venture into the tire business.
Please verify—if possible—that the company once built a plant in or near Detroit to turn out Ford-brand tires. Could this latest plan be just another dumb corporate decision—the only result being to screw up the marketplace?
Kovac Automotive Inc.
Editor's note: During the late 1920s and early '30s, Ford established two rubber plantations on the Amazon River in Brazil. Using them as a rubber source, the company then built a $5.6 million plant in Dearborn, Mich., to produce Ford-brand OE tires. However, Ford's rubber plantations were plagued with leaf disease and personnel problems and ultimately became a financial burden. They were disposed of at almost a total loss. With the advent of World War II, the Dearborn plant was converted to aircraft production, and its tire-production equipment was shipped to Russia. The auto maker made no attempt to resume tire production after the close of the war.
Liked A/C columns
I enjoyed Dan Marinucci's two columns (Aug. 2 and 16) on air conditioning service. In fact, we had them laminated for display on our waiting room wall.
From time to time, I ask customers to read these articles in order to gain a better understanding of how A/C works. Following Mr. Marinucci's suggestion, I'm also having drawings made up so they can view the components that make up the system.
I'm amazed at how many people don't know anything about how A/C works.
We had a customer complain that her car's turn signal light was not working and assumed it had something to do with the A/C. Another thought the car's fuel gauge also measured the amount of ``gas'' in the A/C.
It's funny from one point of view, but frustrating from another. The general public doesn't understand that A/C is not cheap.
Auto Air Doctor
Spring Hill, Fla.
I'd like to call your attention to a small but very important clarification concerning the Aug. 30 letter from John Dodd of West Side, Inc. While underinflation is the reason for a zipper-type of rupture, the notion that a tire should always be inflated to the pressure stated on the sidewall is generally not correct.
The inflation pressure printed on the tire sidewall is a maximum inflation pressure, not a recommendation by the manufacturer. In the example of the school bus cited, the weight on the rear axle is rarely enough to justify full inflation.
In fact, many tires will run safer, longer, and more comfortably when they are inflated to a pressure that is less than that indicated on the sidewall. Each manufacturer prints a data book—available to all dealers and fleets—which shows the recommended air pressure for different loads. The tire's engineers design the tire to run at a specific inflation for the load.
While underinflation is certainly a major concern, overinflation can lead to tire problems as well. By running today's radial tires at the correct pressure, fleets are able to take advantage of the lower overall cost and cushioning properties inherent in the design, and a lower air pressure may even contribute to fewer punctures and reduced downtime from road hazards.
Think of a balloon—if fully inflated, it will break at the slightest touch by a pin. By reducing the inflation pressure, the same balloon will give before it pops. The same is true of a tire hitting a nail or other hazard!
For more information concerning proper inflation, please contact your suppliers and have them provide you with the data book from your preferred manufacturer. If you are currently being called on by a manufacturer's rep, he or she also should be able to provide you with this information. (If they can't, perhaps it is time to try another manufacturer.) We all can benefit from proper tire procedures. They lower a fleet's overall costs, increase driver acceptance and enthusiasm, and, most of all, make for safer roads and workplaces.
Fleet Development Manager
Michelin North America Inc.
Caught in the warp
I'm an electrical engineer with a company doing development work on communication systems for pressure sensors in run-flat tires.
TB's July 5 article, ``Goodyear revamps service format,'' has given me a renewed sense of youth. The box accompanying the article, headlined ``What's in a name?'' said the name ``Gemini,'' chosen by Goodyear for their automotive service centers, ``harkens back to the U.S. Gemini space program of the 1970s.''
I was too young to remember any of the Mercury flights, but I remember very clearly the excitement of the Gemini and Apollo programs. All this time, I was under the mistaken impression Gemini happened during the '60s.
I guess there's some truth to the statement ``Anyone who remembers the '60s wasn't really there.''
Alon Shevut, Israel
Editor's note: You're correct, Mr. Farkas. NASA's Gemini space missions did
take place in the 1960s, not the '70s.