WASHINGTONAs many as seven states are expected to consider legislation this year setting safety standards for used tires and banning the sale of tires that don't meet those standards, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), which supports such moves.
For the past several years, the RMA has encouraged the introduction and passage of model legislation it devised to keep unsafe used tires off the road. The RMA defines unsafe as worn out, damaged or exhibiting other unsafe conditions.
Safety is the highest priority of the tire industry, said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president-public affairs, regarding used tire legislation. Laws to stop the sale of worn-out, damaged used tires will help improve highway and motorist safety.
The RMA succeeded last year in winning passage of a used tire bill in Colorado. This year, the association said, it expects Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas to consider similar legislation.
The model RMA legislation takes aim at:
c Used tires that have 2/32-inch or less of tread depth;
c Tires with damage exposing steel belts or other internal components;
c Tires with improper repairs; and
c Tires with bulges indicating internal damage.
Officials of the RMA and its member companies have found numerous examples of used tires offered for sale that have one or more of these obvious danger signs, the RMA said.
As many as 35 million used tires are offered for sale every year in the U.S., according to RMA scrap tire data. A survey by the association shows that nearly one in 10 U.S. motorists have used tires on their vehicles.
The RMA did not say specifically at this time what support it would lend to state legislative efforts on used tires. It also did not say whether it would encourage states to look into regulating tire repair, something it has supported in the past.
In response to the RMA's stance, Pittsburgh-area tire retailer Champtires issued a statement of support, albeit with a caveat.
Champtires President Brad Rea said he feels that RMA could do more to illustrate the difference between reputable used tire sellers that sell safe products and others that are selling damaged products.
West Mifflin, Pa.-based Champtires stocks approximately 10,000 used tires, allowing the company to match brand names and tread levels to drivers' existing tires.
We air test and inspect every tire that enters our warehouse, Mr. Rea said. (The) RMA is doing a great job urging states and consumers to understand the risks of buying worn, damaged tires, but they fail to include that buying premium used tires is still a cost-effective and safe option for drivers.
Drivers who need to replace one, two, three or a whole set of tires can save up to 80 percent off of the cost of new tires by choosing used tires, Champtires said.
If you have ever bought a used car, you also bought and drove on used tires, Mr. Rea said. There is definitely a huge difference between safe and unsafe used tires, and the tire and auto industries need to work to better educate drivers on that.
Mr. Rea established Champtires in 2009 as a predominantly online business and later added the retail store in West Mifflin.