Tire and automotive aftermarket associations are opposing a New York State Senate bill to require tire manufacturers to mold non-coded dates of manufacture on both sidewalls.
The legislation, introduced April 14, also would require implementation of a public outreach campaign to educate motorists about the dangers of tire aging.
The date code that is required on tire sidewalls by the U.S. Department of Transportation is confusing to motorists, according to the bill's preamble. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the effects of tire aging, it added, but in the absence of federal regulations, it is necessary for the state to require non-coded dating and a public outreach program.
A hearing on the bill was scheduled for May 17 before the New York Senate Transportation Committee.
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) sent a joint letter to the committee May 2, expressing strong opposition to the bill.
Any tire professional, TIA and SEMA said in the letter, can explain the date-of-manufacture code currently on sidewalls and invoices to motorists. Because there is no hard scientific information on the effect of aging on tires, it's virtually impossible to say how old is ``too old'' for a tire.
``Tires will deteriorate over time, but the rate of deterioration depends on how and where that tire is used and stored, how it is constructed and how the tire is maintained by the consumer,'' the groups said.
``Tire retailers are being put in the situation where, if they have to explain the date-of-manufacture code to a customer, they cannot rely on any scientific foundation to indicate that older tires are any less safe than newer tires,'' they added. ``Therefore, retailers will be forced to make it up as they go along, which could lead to liability issues.''
If implemented, the new date-of-manufacture requirement could cause major inventory problems for tire dealers as consumers demanded newer tires and let older ones stay in the warehouse, TIA and SEMA said. The new molding requirement also would be very expensive for tire manufacturers to implement, they added.
``Yearly state safety inspections remove any need for manufacturers to add a `born on' date to a sidewall,'' they said. ``Inspectors can be taught to look for signs of deterioration and to check the date code.''
The Rubber Manufacturers Association is monitoring the tire-aging bill, an RMA spokesman said. To pass the New York legislature, a bill must first gain serious attention from the governor's office, the speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate, and this bill hasn't yet reached that point, he added.