The California legislature is considering two bills on disclosure of tire age at the point of sale, either of which could prove extremely damaging for tire manufacturers and dealers, according to industry spokesmen.
Meanwhile, New Jersey, New York and Hawaii are weighing their own courses of action on how to deal with aging tires.
Of the two California bills, AB 496 is the further along, slated for a committee hearing and vote April 14. AB 496 would require all tire dealers to provide written information on sale documents about the age of each tire sold to customers. The information would have to be in six languagesEnglish, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Korean.
Customers would have to initial the information to signify they had read and understood it, and dealers would have to keep the documents for at least three years after the sale. Each violation would be punishable by a $250 fine.
The second bill, AB 323, would amend California's Automotive Repair Act to require tire dealers to disclose in writing the age of each tire they sold and installed, as well as posting in their shops a sign warning consumers about the dangers of tire degradation.
AB 323 would also rewrite the state's Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights, which insurers must present to consumers upon application for auto insurance or at the time of an accident. The bill would have to contain information about the consumer's right to know the date of their tires' manufacture.
While the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) opposes both bills, it is particularly concerned about AB 496, an RMA spokesman said. AB 496 allows any consumer who does not receive tire age information to bring a civil action, and also states that disclosing tire age according to the law cannot be used in a tire dealer's defense in a lawsuit.
This bill is nothing more than a lawsuit promotion act against the industry, the spokesman said.
Paul Fiore, director of government and business affairs for the Tire Industry Association, also said the California bills are especially worrisome for his association, especially AB 496.
My concern is that the conversation is being driven by people who keep the level of discussion as a fairly hysterical pitch, Mr. Fiore said. No one's looking at the numbers. If there were a bill of this kind against any other product with the extremely low level of complaints and adjustment that tires have, it would be laughed out of the hearing room.
But there are people who think this bill is necessary, and unfortunately the legislators are listening to them, he said. There's such an inherent misunderstanding of what a sales transaction is. All this bill will do is create an immediate sense of animosity between the customer and the dealer.
Tire aging bills also were introduced into the Hawaii and New York legislatures. Hawaii's SB 1064 would make it illegal to sell a tire more than six years after its date of manufacture and impose a fine of up to $100 for each violation.
The New York Assembly's bill, A05298, would forbid the sale of any tire within the state that did not have the date of manufacture clearly molded on both sides in a non-coded fashion. New York's attorney general would have the power to issue injunctions against the sale of noncompliant tires and assess fines of up to $500 for each violation.
Hawaii's bill passed its Senate Transportation, International and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Feb. 20, but the legislative session ended before it could reach the Senate floor, the RMA spokesman said.
Last December, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued a notice of pre-proposal, soliciting comments on whether to establish a standard mandating tire age disclosure from tire dealers.