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Published on June 18, 2007

Sell used tires—but carefully

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Opinion

AKRON (June 18, 2007) — Most tire dealers probably aren't going to stop selling used tires just because Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) has decided to cease offering them through its company-owned outlets.


Nor will dealers pass up a potential sale just because the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) has issued a service bulletin alerting tire retailers and motorists to the possible dangers of used tires that have an unknown or uncertain history of use.


To the contrary, used tires are a lucrative part of many tire retailers' businesses because they appeal to a segment of the tire buying public that perhaps can't readily afford the prices of new tires.


Eliminating their availability likely would mean a significant loss of revenue for many tire retailers and could make the roadways less safe as vehicle owners drive longer on dangerously worn tires until they can afford to purchase a new set. So it will be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the sale of these products altogether from many dealerships' offerings, even if industry groups wanted to do so.


Still, tire dealers and other tire retailers should not ignore the warning signals delivered by the BFS and RMA announcements, which come on the heels of an effort by Safety Research & Strategies Inc., a consumer watchdog group, to bring stricter inspection standards on used tires before they are sold.


Taken together, these actions are likely to bring increased scrutiny on the used tire business and additional concerns for retailers selling used tires.


That makes it imperative that all retailers selling used tires, at the very least, review the recently issued RMA information service bulletin to make sure they are aware of and understand what the guidelines say. As an official document issued by an industry trade association, this could well become the standard by which all used tires and used tire retailers are judged.


The service bulletin urges, among other things, that used tires not be sold if they exhibit any punctures or other penetrations, regardless of whether they were repaired; have any inner liner or bead damage; have been run on a rim that is bent, dented or otherwise damaged; or have a history of continuous pressure loss requiring frequent re-inflation.


With the tire industry under increased scrutiny following the huge tire recalls of 2000 and 2001, tire retailers must be more vigilant than ever in protecting their businesses as well as their customers from anything that could cause them harm.


In fact, dealers might well consider adopting this philosophy for all tires that roll into their shops because, in essence, they're all used tires at that point and could exhibit signs of damage or abuse.

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