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Bald's definitely not beautiful

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Bald is beautiful, as the saying goes, but not for tires. That's a message that still has not gotten through to the driving public.

It's a message tire dealers as a group should take up as a cause.

A recent report by the Rubber Manufacturers Association indicates that nearly one of every eight passenger vehicles on the road in the U.S. is running on at least one bald tire. This is up from about one in 10 just two years ago.

At the same time a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are doing their job to reduce the incidence of tire under inflation and the resultant safety and environmental issues,

The conclusion from these two studies seems to indicate that more drivers are now aware of when their tires have become underinflated, thanks to the TPMS warning light, and are taking heed and airing up their tires. But they still are not checking to see if those same tires might also be nearing the end of their tread life.

It's time that drivers everywhere begin to gain a more full respect and understanding for the round black inflated ovals that perform, for the most, part flawlessly every day to keep them and their families safe.

That means keeping them inflated and replacing them with new ones as they near the end of their tread life. And to know when that is requires the ability to check and understand a tire's tread depth.

This issue of bald tires is nothing new. There's always been disagreement about when to remove a tire from the vehicle—and it apparently has become a bigger problem in recent years, most likely as tire prices have climbed and incomes have declined.

Making matters worse, different states have different regulations on when a tire should be removed from service. The majority say the tire should be replaced when the tread depth falls below 2/32 inch, while two say 1/32 inch and six—Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia—have no regulation.

As tire professionals, tire dealers should take up this cause. They already do a superb job of servicing tire customers' needs, but once those drivers leave a dealership's lot, their concern about tires seems to fade away.

Where tire dealers can make a difference is by helping their customers understand how important the tires are to their driving safety and what steps they should take to make sure they are operating properly.

With a new tire labeling law set to come into effect in the near future, dealers likely will be spending more time talking with their customers about what the different bars on the labels mean. As part of that discussion, tire dealers should take a few minutes to review tire maintenance issues and what that responsibility entails.
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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published February 22, 2019

What kind of investments do you plan to make this year?

Adding more employees.
21% (17 votes)
Upgrading software/hardware.
16% (13 votes)
Upgrading our equipment and/or facilities.
37% (30 votes)
Training for employees.
27% (22 votes)
Total votes: 82
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