AKRON (July 20, 2009)—Tire dealers everywhere should be breathing a sigh of relief now that a California bill designed to require them to provide tire age information on sales contracts has been withdrawn by its sponsors.
The action came none too soon and just a day before a California Senate committee was to hold a hearing on it. This follows the bill's passage by the California Assembly.
Simply put, AB 496 would have been a huge hassle for tire dealers not only in California but in every state across the nation should the idea spread, with no quantifiable benefit to consumers.
It also would have placed them in the cross hairs of trial attorneys looking into every vehicle accident to see if tire age could be applied to the case—even if the tires had nothing to do with it.
The bill as presented would have made tire dealers liable for fines of $250 for every violation in which they failed to list on the sales contract the age of each tire sold. Consumers would have had to initial the information showing they had read and understood it, and dealers would have had to keep a record of this for at least three years.
In addition, the bill would have given tire buyers the right to sue tire dealerships—but not car dealerships selling tires—that didn't provide tire age information.
Talk about liability.
The issue here is not about putting an age limit on tires. Having age limits actually could be beneficial if it can be proven how age alone has a detrimental effect on tire performance and if the appropriate time for removal can be determined.
But the precise effect of tire aging is still open to debate, with different parties in the industry giving varying recommendations of when a tire should be pulled from service, if at all, because of age.
Until there is better data and some consensus, the idea of legislating tire age should be put on the back burner and the issue of tire removal based on this criterion left to consumers with advice from their tire dealer professionals.
Take a fresh look at groups
With many tire dealers struggling in this recession, now may be a good time to take a fresh look at what the industry's many marketing groups and franchise programs have to offer.
These groups provide the economies of scale, buying power and discounts that dealers can't necessarily achieve on their own. And most have tailored their programs to allow members to remain independent, an important issue for many tire dealers.
They offer unique networking opportunities and the chance for dealers to work with other members to solve common problems and make their dealerships better.
In times of uncertainty, people tend to step back and reevaluate their circumstances. Checking out how a dealer marketing group or franchise program can benefit the dealership might just be the prudent thing to do.