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Maine law ´most restrictive,´ says TIA

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"I don´t think we´ve seen any (legislation) that´s more restrictive" in relation to tires than Maine´s controversial vehicle inspection law, according to Paul Fiore, director of business development for the Tire Industry Association (TIA).

"It´s a pretty difficult situation," he says. "It really puts a burden on (the state´s) tire dealers."

The law -- which was revised last September -- states that if the rim size on a vehicle is modified, 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.

To complicate matters, Maine´s state inspection guidelines published in 2001 say that "vehicles equipped with an anti-lock brake system may not be altered," but anti-lock brakes are not mentioned in the revision at all.

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.

"The state of Maine is saying, ´We´ll just go with what the vehicle originally came with,´" says Dick Cole, executive director of the New England Tire & Service Association (NETSA).

Tire dealers in Maine report the revision is causing problems with customers as some tires sold before the law was changed do not comply with updated vehicle inspection standards. They claim it also limits what customers can buy.

Legislators made the revisions without consulting the state´s tire dealers, says Cole.

"This is so typical of a state government bypassing the industry in every way, shape and form," says Fiore, who adds that TIA is "more than happy" to assist NETSA as the association tries to rectify the situation.

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