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Published on April 27, 2009

Tire age laws open cans of worms

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Opinion

AKRON (April 27, 2009)—When is a tire too old to be sold? At what age should tires be removed from vehicles, even if a safe level of tread remains? How should consumers be informed of a tire's age? Who will explain to them what the tire's age means? What type of reporting is needed regarding tire aging?


It's not the tire industry asking these questions, but legislators in at least four states who are urging the establishment of laws involving the age of tires. Those legislative efforts should send warning signals to tire manufacturers and tire dealers alike, who may be forced to abide by new rules governing the tires they produce and sell.


These laws aren't needed, don't make a lot of sense and would be difficult to follow. The last thing the tire industry needs is more costly and time-consuming regulations.


The problem here is that there is no clear-cut consensus in the tire industry on these and similar questions. That makes the possible establishment of varying rules in different states all the more dicey.


While the issue of tire aging is a valid one, it's imperative the industry work together with legislators to establish some sane positions on this subject. Doing so would help steer and possibly end the debates now raging in several states on the subject.


Otherwise, people not familiar with tires and the tire industry could come to their own conclusions without the necessary background to make knowledgeable decisions. It's happened before.


Tire aging is an issue that has grabbed the attention of consumers and politicians alike.


So far, legislators in New Jersey, New York, California and Hawaii have taken up the cause and are looking at what action they might take.


California is considering two bills. One would require tire retailers to provide written information on sale documents about the age of each tire sold. Customers would have to sign a document, which dealers would be required to keep for three years or face a $250 fine per violation.


The second bill would amend the state's Automotive Repair Act to require dealers to disclose in writing the age of tires sold and post signs in their shops warning about the dangers of tire degradation.


The Hawaii bill would make it illegal to sell a tire more than six years after its date of manufacture, while the one in New York would forbid the sale of any tire within the state that did not have the date of manufacture clearly molded on both sidewalls “in non-coded fashion.”


In New Jersey, the Division of Consumer Affairs is soliciting comments on whether to establish a standard mandating tire age disclosure by tire dealers.


All of these bills are different and, if adopted independently, would create a confusing web of regulations for dealers and tire makers to follow.


The tire industry, through its national trade groups, the Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire Industry Association, should take the initiative regarding tire aging before these states and others do so themselves. Then it might be too late.

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