Relief may be on the way for Maine tire dealers

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The Maine State Police Department is working on a memo that may cut tire dealers who are experiencing problems thanks to the state´s controversial vehicle inspection law some slack, according to John Falardeau, government affairs director for the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

"I don´t know how much weight the memo will carry," Falardeau told this morning.

"It´s the Maine State Police who have enforcement jurisdiction" of the law, which was revised last September. "We´re prepared to help them out on the technical aspects of this."

The law states that if the rim size of a vehicle is changed, the overall diameter of the wheel and tire "must be within the vehicle manufacturer´s specification."

In addition, vehicles may only be outfitted with replacement tires that meet or exceed the load and speed ratings of their original equipment tires.

"I don´t think we´ve seen any (legislation) that´s more restrictive" when it comes to tires, Paul Fiore, director of business development for the Tire Industry Association, told last week.

Maine requires all vehicles to undergo a multi-point safety inspection each year. If a vehicle passes, it receives a sticker. If a vehicle fails, it´s supposed to be taken off the highway.

Tire dealers in Maine are reporting that the revision is causing problems with customers as some tires sold before the law was updated do not comply with new vehicle inspection standards.

Dealers also say customers can´t always buy what they want and remain in compliance thanks to the revision.

The RMA just found out about the revisions a couple of weeks ago, according to Falardeau.

"Nobody consulted the industry on this. We don´t know how it came about. I haven´t seen it in any other state."

He says Maine Police officials acknowledge that the law is causing difficulties for dealers.

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