April 01, 2008
Wheel weight update
Lead isn’t dead, but steel is the real deal
By: Bob Ulrich
The 3M Wheel Weight System is available as a “roll good” (like a big roll of tape only thicker and heavier) in a self-dispensing package that uses a dispensing stand and cutting device.
The majority of wheel weights are still made of lead. That won’t last forever, however.
Environmental concerns are changing the landscape of this once unchanging and seemingly unalterable market because lead is a highly toxic chemical targeted for reduction by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Across the U.S., individual states and local governments are taking action to remove lead wheel weights from automotive service locations,” says Don Vanderheyden, group marketing manager for Hennessy Industries Inc.
“Initially, many are requiring the use of non-lead wheel weights on fleet vehicles. And, the industry is taking notice.
“Several leading auto makers and tire retailers have made the decision to transition out of lead wheel weights.”
According to the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, a number of European and Japanese automobile manufacturers already have switched to steel or zinc wheel weights:
“While auto manufacturers are making some progress to switch to lead-free wheel weights, the Institute noted that 80% of wheel weights are used by aftermarket businesses such as tire retailers and service stations, and very few of these businesses use lead-free wheel weights.”
Last December, the United States Environmental Protection Agency requested that the industry self-regulate the transition away from lead wheel weights to viable alternatives. A number of companies already offer those alternatives.
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