The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the economic impact of its regulations on small entities as required by Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Specifically, TIA commented on Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 49 CFR 571.138 that regulates tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) on passenger cars and light trucks.
TIA's comments focused on the section that related to the written instructions that must be included in the owner's manual. TIA feels that the requirements are inadequate and do not properly explain the different TPMS telltales or educate the consumer on the need for regular maintenance.
As a result, these tasks are left to the tire retailers who must bear the burden of providing this information. Additionally, the lack of information regarding the need for relearn procedures creates confusion in the minds of consumers which often leads to small businesses giving away services in the interest of customer satisfaction.
"As an industry, we embraced the role of TPMS and readily accepted the challenges that it created for tire service providers," says Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president.
"Our members have invested thousands of dollars in tools and training to service all makes and models, so we feel the vehicle manufacturers must do their part by playing a greater role in educating the motoring public. By requiring the addition of TPMS telltale identification and maintenance costs in the owner's manual, NHTSA can ease the burden on small businesses."
TIA also commented on language that relates to vehicles with a TPMS telltale that temporarily remains illuminated following service. TIA has learned of several occasions where customers assumed the tire retailer damaged the system so the vehicle was immediately taken to the new car dealer.
Some car dealers have taken advantage of the situation by needlessly replacing all of the sensors at the expense of the retailer. If the manufacturers were required to identify vehicles in the owner's manual that must be driven to extinguish the TPMS telltale after tire service, these instances could be avoided.
"The lack of information and consumer awareness regarding TPMS often leads to motorists getting different explanations from retailers and new car dealers," says Kevin Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of training. "The owner's manual should be the sole authority on the operation and maintenance of the TPMS for each specific make and model. This would provide retailers with an undeniable reference that they could use to explain why certain procedures are necessary and justify the additional cost."
TIA also prompted NHTSA to release a final rule on the consumer information and education program that was mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. TIA stated that in order for TPMS to meet the long-term goals of improving safety and fuel efficiency, consumers will need a lot more than a few nondescript paragraphs in the owner's manual and low rolling resistance ratings that do not influence tire buyers.
TIA says it believes the only way to achieve that goal is to develop a comprehensive education campaign that targets consumers and retailers with a consistent message, and as the leader for training and education in the tire industry, they urged NHTSA to issue a final rule that names TIA as the coordinator of this effort.
For more information visit www.tireindustry.org.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.