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Published on June 5, 2000

Gas prices dealers' opportunity

Today's record gasoline prices offer dealers an unprecedented opportunity to tell motorists how keeping tires properly inflated saves them money. As petroleum prices rise, so too does the importance of proper tire inflation.

Independent dealers know first-hand how underinflation robs motorists of fuel economy and tire service. Now, more than ever, they need to tell this to a motoring public that habitually ignores its tires.

Operating tires underinflated by as little as 4 to 5 psi below recommended pressure can raise fuel consumption 10 percent, Goodyear said in a release.

With today's gasoline costs averaging $1.52 a gallon—40 cents more than a year ago—that adds up to a serious waste of money for motorists. Moreover, it doesn't include the equally significant cost of premature tire wear and needless failure caused by underinflation and overloading.

As dealers know only too well, underinflation reduces treadlife and increases the likelihood of tire failure due to penetrations or internal casing problems—sometimes resulting in tragic accidents.

What's more, this also doesn't take into account the environmental, economic and political costs of wasting 4 million gallons of gasoline each day in North America, as the U.S. Energy Department has estimated.

Tire underinflation is a problem of epic proportions, many sources have pointed out. The Society of Automotive Engineers, for example, found that 87 percent of all flat tires have a history of underinflation. Other studies suggest that more than one tire in every four is seriously underinflated (meaning 4 psi or more below the manufacturer's recommended air pressure).

Goodyear said its own parking lot survey of 250 vehicles turned up 28 percent that had one or more underinflated tires.The firm recommends that motorists check tire inflation at least once a month or every 1,000 miles.

Offering to perform this service for them without cost would be an excellent way for dealers to increase store traffic and build customer goodwill.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to meet in Vienna June 21 to discuss oil production. In March, OPEC agreed to increase production by 1.7 million barrels a day—but that didn't go far enough to ease U.S. gas prices.

However, if just half the number of motorists who regularly ignore tire inflation began monthly maintenance, the nation's gas shortfall and resulting price increases could be kept in check, Goodyear pointed out.

By making motorists aware and helping them save money on fuel and tire costs, dealers have the opportunity to serve their customers, their country and their own interests

It's time for "those who know tires best" to share such knowledge with the motoring public at large.

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