The market could see a repeat of volatility with regards to raw material prices, which, in turn, could lead to tire manufacturers imposing additional price increases.
Consumer demand could stay stagnant, or even fall. A natural disaster or a domestic terror attack could send markets tumbling.
That's the world in which we live.
In spite of such concerns, industry experts say 2018 looks as if it will be another strong year for the tire and automotive service sectors.
Experts point to positive signs out of Washington D.C., where the administration's focus on reducing regulatory burdens, as well as the recent passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, has business leaders feeling confident heading into the new year.
With the tax rate for most corporations reduced to 21 percent from 35 percent — the lowest rate since 1938 — that puts real, hard cash into the hands of tire dealers.
Whether they choose to bank the cash or use it to invest in more equipment and/or additional personnel remains to be seen, but the simple fact is business owners will pay less in taxes in 2018 than they did in 2017.
In addition, some dealers are encouraged that the new law doubles the estate tax exemption, though the Tire Industry Association was hoping the tax would be phased out altogether.
Meanwhile, foreign tire manufacturers continue to stake out their share of the North American market.
In 2017 alone, South Korea-based Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. and Singapore-based Giti Tire Group opened their first U.S. tire plants.
Meanwhile Finland's Nokian Tyres P.L.C. and China's Triangle Group Co. Ltd. announced plans to open factories in the U.S. in the coming years, while China's Guangzhou Vanlead Group Co. Ltd., a China state-owned entity that controls Wanli Tire Group, announced its intention to do so as well.
Could 2018 be the year in which other global players — such as India's Apollo Tyres Ltd. and/or South Korea's Nexen Tire Corp. — join their competitors by announcing plans to construct plants in the U.S.?
The commercial trucking industry is rolling into 2018 with high expectations, as well. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports that truck tonnage surged 7.6 percent year-over-year in November after a 10.5-percent increase in October, which bodes well for the future.
In the fourth quarter, sales of Class 8 tractors and trailers were strong as freight tonnage continued to grow and capacity tightened. Experts say North American Class 8 production will increase 26 percent in 2018, to 321,966 units, over 2017.
With sales brisk in 2017 for all types of trailers, experts believe that sales in 2018 will increase 1.4 percent to 285,000 units.