WASHINGTONMandated by the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000, tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are now a part of life for tire dealers, tire and vehicle manufacturers, automotive service providers and motorists alike.
Drivers likely have, at least grudgingly, gotten used to viewing the dashboard display that warns them of a low-tire-pressure condition with their vehicle.
With the passage of time and the multiplicity and complexity of TPMS technologies, however, government officials feel the need to assess the ongoing effectiveness of TPMS.
Similarly, tire retailers feel the need to stay current with rapid changes in TPMS technologies.
Therefore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is planning to follow up the 2011 study it performed on the effectiveness of TPMS.
Also, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) has TPMS-related plans, including an upgrade to TPMS training and new TPMS troubleshooting software.
NHTSA issued a Federal Register notice Jan. 13, giving a 30-day period for comments on its proposed survey to assess the effectiveness of TPMS in older vehicles and determine ways to increase that effectiveness.
The agency's 2011 evaluation of TPMS, the notice said, was performed through the infrastructure of the National Automotive Sampling System, to collect nationally representative data on the effectiveness of TPMS in reducing underinflation in passenger vehicles.
Analysis of the survey indicated that direct TPMS is 55.6-percent effective at preventing severe underinflation, NHTSA said. However, effectiveness was substantially lower in vehicles that were 6 to 7 years old at the time of the survey.
The new TPMS survey will be more comprehensive than previous surveys, in that it will engage motorists, suppliers and shops that repair TPMS, NHTSA said.
The agency asked for comment on whether the information to be collected has practical utility, whether the agency's estimate of the burden involved in collecting the information is accurate, and whether there are ways to improve the quality, utility and clarity of the information.
However, by the time the comment period ended Feb. 12, only one organization had submitted a comment to NHTSAthe Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the Diamond Bar, Calif.-based trade group.
SEMA urges NHTSA staff to work with industry representatives in crafting the survey questions, said the Feb. 12 comment signed by Stuart Gosswein, SEMA senior director of federal government affairs. SEMA would welcome such an opportunity.
Additionally, SEMA recommends that the survey go beyond motorists to include feedback from suppliers, installers and repair/maintenance facilities that interact with consumers, Mr. Gosswein added.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) said it did not comment because the notice was for a previously approved information collection project, according to Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs.
The authorization had expired, and the agency had to seek comments to reauthorize the information collection, Mr. Zielinski said. A previous and similar notice for comment was issued in July 2014 and the agency received no comments.
TIA cares less about the utility of the information and the methods of collecting it than about the questions themselves, according to Kev-in Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of training.
The practical utility of the information will depend on the questions, and the methods of collecting the data will not be a factor if the questions are meaningful, Mr. Rohlwing told Tire Business.
If NHTSA works with organizations like TIA to create a meaningful survey, then the industry will support it, regardless of the methods that are used, he said.
Meanwhile, there was no word from NHTSA as to a timetable for the survey.
In a statement, NHTSA said it will begin final preparation for TPMS data collection once the Office of Management and Budget gives its approval to the project.
The data collection should be completed by year-end 2015, with a final report expected to be released sometime in 2016, according to the agency.
For the past several years, TIA has offered a combination of advanced TPMS training and reference guides to its members and other interested parties.
TIA's Advanced TPMS Program focuses on a number of different technical areas, according to Mr. Rohlwing.
These areas include specific service requirements for all types of snap-in, clamp-in and band-mounted sensors, as well as relearn requirements for the most popular domestic and import vehicles, in-cluding the most common step-by-step relearn procedures for General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. vehicles, Mr. Rohlwing said.
All Advanced TPMS training content is part of TIA's Certified Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Instructor Class training program, Mr. Rohlwing noted.
We are scheduled to update the ATS program in 2016, and that will include an update to Advanced TPMS, he said.
To date, slightly more than 10,000 tire technicians have completed the association's Advanced TPMS trainingeither as stand-alone training or as part of the Certified ATS program.
Early in 2012, Bowie, Md.-based TIA also teamed with Tiremetrix L.L.C. to issue TPMS Manager Powered by TIA, an enhanced version of Tiremetrix's TPMS Manager management software. TPMS Manager Powered by TIA offered an online resource of parts numbers, relearn summaries and other valuable TPMS information.
Tiremetrix terminated its agreement with TIA in October 2014, Mr. Rohlwing said. However, the association has established a new partnership with Bartec Inc. to put TIA troubleshooting tips on every Bar-tec Tech400SD and Tech500 tools that have been updated to software version 52 and up, he said.
Not only has Bartec put our troubleshooting tips from the chart onto their tools, we have also helped them make their existing tips clearer and easier for the technician to understand, Mr. Rohlwing said.
We are also working with their software development teams to make the tool more efficient and easier for the tech to navigate some of the more in-depth vehicle relearn procedures out there, and aid in system logistics, he said.
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