Most tire dealers don’t want used tire legislation
Used tire legislation is a hot issue. Texas and Florida, with help from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), are trying to pass laws that will prohibit “unsafe” used tires.
Modern Tire Dealer has been following the progress of both bills on this website since March. That’s also when the comments on the necessity of any used tire legislation began.
Perhaps the scariest comment was posted in the form of a question. “Who determines what an unsafe used tire is? A plaintiff’s attorney?” asked one tire dealer.
The legislation struck a nerve in our community. So we have responded with complete coverage in the May 2013 issue.
First, we asked the RMA and Tire Industry Association to define what a used tire is. We also asked them if they had a problem with retailers selling used tires. Their answers can be found in Senior Editor Bob Bissler’s special report (click here).
Next, we edited some letters to the editor on the topic, collected the best of the comments from our website, and posted them in Your Turn section (available in the digital version). All sectors of the industry, from manufacturers and suppliers to dealers, are represented.
Everyone agrees that unsafe used tires should not be sold. Whether they should be legislated out of our industry is the question that brings out passion from all sides.
Our European Notebook correspondent, John Stone, writes about the issue of used tires from an overseas perspective in the May 2013 issue.
Finally, we surveyed independent tire retailers in order to get a consensus on whether or not the government should get involved in the sale of used tires.
Here are the results from our survey.
More than two-thirds sell used tires
When asked if they sell used tires, nearly 70% of the respondents to the “MTD Used Tires Survey” responded positively: Yes = 69.6%, No =30.4%.
Of the dealers who do sell used tires, we then asked how many they sold per month. The average was close to 100.
Is the trending of that number up or down? We asked them if the number they gave us was higher or lower than it was five years ago. You probably can guess the answer given the state of the United States economy since 2008: Higher = 62.1%, Lower = 37.9%.
Yea or nay to legislation?
The impetus behind our survey was the used tire legislation in Texas and Florida. (According to the RMA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not address used products. That leaves any used tire legislation up to each state.)
When asked, “Do you feel the government should legislate used tire sales?” nearly 80% of the dealers said “no”: No = 79.9%, Yes = 20.1%.
When asked, “Do you feel our industry should set minimum standards that define what a safe used tire is?” the answers were almost flipped: Yes = 72.6%. No = 27.4%.
In order to get a feel for why dealers selling used tires were for or against government intervention, we gave them the opportunity to expound upon their survey answers.
Some have a pessimistic view of government (“The government has great trouble doing anything right.”). Some are tired of fly-by-night dealers flooding the market with unsafe tires (“Get the bottom feeders out.”). And some took the opportunity to address tire aging (“Limit the age of used tires. To say age has no bearing on increased failure rates is irresponsible.”).
Here is a sampling of what they had to say.
“We know if a tire is re-sellable or not. Some people cannot buy new priced tires.”
“We are the experts. They can’t do their own jobs, much less ours.”
“I feel it would just lead to some sort of tax on the tire business.”
“Tire stores are selling used tires that are old, worn out, separated, cracked, etc., causing danger to the person who bought them and others out on the road. But the government should not be involved.”
“Anything that the government has their hands on will drive prices up. Keep it simple so the little guy can make a dollar.”
“Price of new tires is very reasonable and less liability.”
“There is a need for used tires. As long as the used tire is inspected, the government should keep its nose out of it. There is too much government influence, telling business owners what they can and can’t do.”
“If a tire is unsafe, it should be a crime to sell it. I do not feel that the government should be deeply involved in this, but there should be legal consequences for a business that sells unsafe tires.”
“There is too much ‘junk’ being sold as used.”
“Since there are companies in our business that cannot seem to implement an inspection program for used tires, someone needs to establish boundaries.”
“From a cost and time management perspective, legislation is very unnecessary. Used tires have been sold forever; why is it different now? What is the difference between a used tire and one that is running down the road right now? How would you ever control it? Where would you draw the line? Leave well enough alone.”
“We have too many regulations already.”
“Used tires are a great way to save money and recycle tires.”
“This will only end up costing the customer more money. We would not sell a tire that is bad. We are the experts.”
“If a tire has recently been in service on a vehicle and is visually inspected by an experienced tire technician as to any apparent defects, if anything, I think that tire being installed on another vehicle is perhaps even safer than the millions of tires being driven on daily — just because it has been removed and inspected.”
“For public safety, we should discourage unsafe used tires for public use.”
“We as professionals should know what is safe for our customers. I only sell used tires that I know the history behind. I do not buy used tires to resell.”
“I feel they should regulate on the sale of used tires put into service on automobiles because I agree that they are unsafe for the vehicle and passengers in the vehicle. My used tire sales go onto wagons and small implement applications.”
“Legislation is cumbersome and not effective. In this case, it only serves to give lawyers a chance to make more money for themselves. Industry guidelines, information and training would be much better.”
“Are you kidding? Just what we need — more useless government legislation that can never be comprehensively enforced. Responsible tire dealers and responsible customers will ensure a great business transaction 99.99% of the time. Legislation should not go after the .01%! Additionally, if governments truly want a ‘green’ economy and environment, used tires are another source of using resources to their maximum.” ■
For more on this issue, see: