Published on March 18, 2002 @ 6:00am EST

TREAD Act will impact dealers


On the surface, the proposed Transportation Re-call Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act legislation appears to be directed solely at tire and auto makers.

But on closer examination, these potential regulations likely will impact tire dealers and re-treaders, as well, resulting in increased business costs.

While it will be several years before full implementation of the Act takes effect, tire dealers and others who will be affected by these regs need to speak up now to make their positions known.

The Act calls for more stringent testing of passenger and light truck tires, which almost inevi-tably will push tire prices higher.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in asking for comments about the new testing, said as many as a third of current passenger and light truck tires would not pass the new minimum tire performance requirements. The agency anticipates that many P-metric tires with C temperature ratings will have to be taken off the market or redesigned to pass the new tests.

NHTSA estimates it will cost tire makers about $3 per affected tire, or $282 million in total, to bring these lines up to the new standard. These are costs that will be passed along to tire dealers and other tire retailers.

The TREAD Act also requires auto makers to install tire pressure monitoring systems, complete with dashboard warning lights, on U.S. vehicles by November 2003. While NHTSA has yet to issue its final rule on this, tire dealers will need to start preparing to train their technicians on how to service these systems. This added training, plus in-creased liability, will bring more costs to dealers.

Retreaders should pay attention, too. While truck retreads are not addressed specifically in the TREAD Act, NHTSA has proposed testing the performance of commercial retreads against new medium truck tires. Depending on the outcome of those tests, retreading could come under greater government scrutiny, and increased scrutiny most likely will result in retread costs going up.

NHTSA also is looking at changing tire-labeling requirements so that the tire identification number is molded on both sidewalls of light vehicle tires, instead of one. Should this come to pass, tire makers and retreaders would be forced to purchase new molds, thereby increasing manufacturing and retreading costs.

The agency also is revisiting tire registration's voluntary status to determine whether to bring back a mandatory system incumbent on tire dealers, which would require more paperwork.

The TREAD Act is filled with proposed rules that could impact dealers and retreaders. If you have concerns about them, now is the time to make your voice heard.


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