The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is publishing a ``Passenger and Light Truck Tire Conditions'' manual for tire dealers to use at the point of sale to educate consumers on what causes tire problems.
The 200-page manual, slated to be available during 2005's first quarter, covers more than 70 different types of tire conditions ranging from irregular treadwear patterns to those caused by impacts with foreign objects. It contains color photographs showing the appearance of a tire's conditions and the cause when applicable, according to TIA President Dick Gust.
At the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas, Mr. Gust lauded the cooperative effort between TIA and seven tire manufacturers, which all helped put the manual together. The manufacturers are: Bridgestone/Firestone, Continental Tire North America Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc., Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. and Yokohama Tire Corp.
``It was truly an industry cooperation,'' he said. The biggest advantage of the manual, he noted, is its safety aspect, since it will enable dealers who spot the beginning of a potentially serious tire condition to show the customer what will happen if that condition progresses and the tire isn't replaced.
Mr. Gust, describing the guide as a ``tire anatomy course,'' said it would be beneficial as the industry moves forward to fulfill the reporting requirements of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act. At this point, the manual will be available only in print form-though it can be conformed to an electronic format at a later time-and will be available to dealers through their manufacturer representatives and TIA, said Kevin Rohlwing, TIA's senior vice president of education and technical services.
When an official release date is determined, TIA also will have pricing information available, he added.
Mr. Rohlwing said the manual clearly spells out conditions related to improper tire inflation as well as those caused by manufacturing defects. The publication will be indexed according to the parts of a tire, with the first section focusing on wear conditions, he said. Other sections include tread conditions, sidewall conditions and improper repairs, to name a few.
``We've called it entry-level forensics,'' Mr. Rohlwing said. ``That's to say, `OK, this is a separated tire. We know it's separated, but why? What caused the condition?' We go into the separations in the tread area and point out this separation was caused by an impact, and this one was caused by a missed nail hole. This one was caused by an improper nail-hole repair.
``We show the story behind it. If we can cut out 20 percent of those tires that have to be shipped into our warranty centers, we're ahead of the game.''
TIA received ``overwhelming support'' from the seven manufacturers when it presented the idea to create the manual, he said, and engineers from those companies collected thousands of tires as examples for photographs. The endeavor required ``thousands of man hours'' from everybody and involved tires that were recently produced and being used on the road, he explained.
``I was the conductor of this orchestra, but the engineers at the rubber companies, these guys did the work,'' Mr. Rohlwing said. ``I was just putting it all together and serving as that conductor. (The tire companies) had multiple collection centers that had to coordinate their efforts to collect these conditions, then they had to all be brought in.''
Bob Malerba, TIA's president-elect, said the idea to create the manual was present in discussions among members of TIA's predecessor groups-the Tire Association of North America and the International Tire & Rubber Association-for the past five or six years but became a priority after the merger that created TIA. He said that when TIA members met in 2002 in Pinehurst, N.C., to discuss the new association's strategic plan, they decided that creating such a guide was necessary in light of insurance claims against tire companies.
``At that time there was a lot of finger pointing toward the manufacturers, and the tire dealer was a poor risk because of committing such a tortious act as selling a tire the general public then annihilated with underinflation and overload,'' Mr. Malerba said. ``We wanted to be able to show our consumers the conditions that would lead to those potential catastrophic failures and educate our technicians at the same time.''