The tire manufacturers will continue to gain a greater degree of control (particularly in pricing) in the replacement market.
Some dealers may lose their product ``exclusivity,'' if they don't have their own brand to sell. This ultimately will have a real impact on margins since major brands usually are sold at lower margins compared with private labels and custom brands.
I'm sure China and South Korea will continue to attack the lower end of the market but probably eventually will do what the U.S. manufacturers presently are doing.
With $3-plus gasoline here to stay, we're finding consumers not only delaying the purchase of their tires, but they're buying the lower-cost products-the ones the manufacturers don't want to make. Through the first seven months of the year we're finding our major brand units suffering the most. Our modest increases in units are the low-cost product. Brake and mechanical work, however, is very healthy.
In 2005 the car manufacturers sold many vehicles through their employee price programs. Many of the consumers might otherwise have not purchased a new vehicle and would have been replacing their tires this year. This may make 2007 and 2008 pretty good replacement sales years.
With the OEM sales shift to fewer light truck and sport-utility type vehicles, we'll certainly sell fewer of the larger light truck tires in 2008 and 2009.
Big O Tire
North Fort Collins, Colo.
Time to take responsibility
Bravo to Bruce Adams Jr. from Adams Tire for his letter to the editor in the Aug. 28 issue concerning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's trying to reopen an inquiry on the Bridgestone/Firestone recall.
Having worked in the tire industry for 20 years, I can tell you the average driver on the road today has no clue about how much air pressure his or her tires require, how often to check for proper pressure and/or damage, or how often their tires should be rotated.
I also feel that most of the problems related to the BFS recall were probably driver related. Our time and money would be much better spent in educating the public rather than placing blame and imposing fines upon manufacturers.
How would the average driver's vehicle fare if he or she had to run it through a check station similar to what commercial vehicles must follow? What if their tires were randomly checked by authorities for wear and proper pressure, and those drivers not in compliance were fined or their vehicles were impounded until the tires were replaced?
I would be willing to bet that at least 80 percent of vehicles on the road would fail at least one of these checks.
If the average Joe had to fork money out of his own pocket for negligence regarding tires or vehicles, everyone in this country would be singing a different tune and our roads would be much safer for everyone.
It's time to face the music and address the real issues here instead of trying to milk more money out of corporate America. It's time for all drivers on the road to take responsibility for the vehicles they are driving.
Assistant Store Manager
Flynn's Tire & Auto Service
New Castle, Pa.