AKRON (April 13, 2009)—Bravo to California's Air Resources Board (CARB) for recognizing the importance of proper tire inflation and the need to check tire pressures regularly to achieve maximum performance.
The merits of promoting this practice can't be stressed enough.
But why in the world did the board feel a need to adopt a regulation requiring all of California's automotive maintenance industry to check the tire pressure of every vehicle that comes in for service, starting in July 2010?
Making sure the tires on customers' vehicles are properly inflated is a service all reputable tire dealerships and service shops already do—or should be doing. This is not something that needs government reg¬ulation. What's next, legislating wiper blade ser¬vice?
Proper inflation is the No. 1 maintenance item for tires. Properly inflated tires last longer, run cooler and thus more efficiently, allowing vehicles to perform as intended, especially in emergency situations.
We don't fault CARB for its interest in tire inflation nor for its intention since the benefits are huge.
Keeping vehicle tires in California properly inflated would eliminate 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, CARB estimates, reduce the state's fuel consumption by 75 million gallons annually and extend a tire's average useful life by 4,700 miles.
All worthy objectives.
But primarily it's the responsibility of vehicle owners—rather than a service provider—to keep their vehicles maintained and their tires inflated to the optimum air pressure.
With cars and trucks lasting longer and the intervals between required maintenance repairs extended, there's a good chance a service provider might not see a vehicle for a year or longer. Tires can lose a lot of pressure during that period.
If CARB truly wants to help motorists maintain proper tire inflation pressure of vehicles in the state as well as the rest of the country, it should work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and its mandate to oversee the development and implementation of a national program to educate consumers on the value and proper care of tires.
Backed by both the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA), this is the type of large-scale education program that could really make a difference.
As the largest state in the nation, California wields considerable clout. Working with TIA and the RMA, it would help ensure NHTSA develops an effective tire educational effort.
Done right, such a program could achieve the desired results not only in California but across the nation.