It's about time the tire industry did something on a national scale to educate users of its product.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, supported by a majority of North America's tire manufacturers, is launching a much-needed campaign to spread the word about proper tire care and maintenance. It's an effort tire dealers should support.
The association hopes that by reaching out to the media and other organizations and by devoting a portion of its Web site to tire safety it can get this message out to more consumers.
If nothing else, maybe this effort can create something positive out of the negative publicity surrounding Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s recall of 6.5 million light truck tires.
While the recall has placed the tire industry as a whole under a microscope, it also has highlighted the importance of tires and their role in automotive safety.
Today, more people than ever are aware of the tires fitted on their cars. Many now know these tires should be aired to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended inflation pressures.
Motorists also are more eager to increase their knowledge of proper tire care and maintenance, RMA research shows.
But just because people are more conscious of their tires doesn't necessarily mean they will do something about maintaining them.
The RMA hopes its "Be tire smart, play your PART (Pressure, Alignment, Rotation, Tread)" education campaign will encourage consumers to take five minutes every month to inspect their tires, including the spare.
With only 4 percent of motorists regularly checking their vehicle's tire pressure and only one in two knowing where to find the correct pressure listing, it's clear an education effort is overdue. Through this multi-year, multi-million-dollar campaign, the RMA is providing easy-to-use checklists to teach consumers the correct way to monitor air pressure and tread wear, and to be aware of how tire pressure, alignment and rotation can affect tires.
While the RMA is doing its part to boost consumer understanding of tires, tire dealers need to get behind this program as well. Dealers must take an active role in making sure their customers are well-versed in tire care and maintenance.
Here is an opportunity for dealers to grab a nationwide program and apply it in their own communities.
Just as many shops have offered women's car care clinics, dealers also might want to initiate basic tire education and maintenance programs. Such classes would improve customers' understanding and appreciation of tires, build loyalty to the dealership, and might even attract new business.
The RMA has set in place a powerful campaign at a time when people are more receptive than usual to tire education and maintenance. We encourage tire dealers to take advantage of it.