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Ohio bills would hurt independent tire dealers

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Bills being considered by both the Ohio House of Representatives (HB 364) and Ohio Senate (SB 204) would prevent automobile manufacturers from selling original equipment automotive parts -- which could include tires -- to non-franchised, automotive-related facilities that need the OE parts in order to meet the service and repair needs of their customers’ automobiles.

Here is the specific language, as written, in the parallel bills with which the Ohio Tire and Automotive Association (OTAA) has a problem.

Sec. 4517.59 (A): Notwithstanding the terms, provisions, or conditions of any agreement, franchise, or waiver, no franchisor shall:

(13) Provide reimbursement to any nonfranchised individual or entity for labor and parts used to fulfill warranty and recall work;

(14) Directly sell, distribute, or otherwise make available to any nonfranchised individual or entity any original equipment manufacturer motor vehicle parts, accessories, or other commodities that would otherwise be sold by a franchised dealer.

The OTAA says the bill would limit consumer choice when it comes to automotive maintenance and repair, and potentially put thousands of Ohio businesses in jeopardy.

"We focus our business on putting the consumer first. These bills as drafted will limit consumer choice on automotive repair or replacement by not allowing our businesses access to OEM parts,” says John Miller Jr., association president.

"It is my hope that the members of Ohio's General Assembly see the wisdom in removing the damaging provision. Many Ohioans use our facilities for their automotive needs, why limit their choice? And why pass bills that are detrimental to business in Ohio?"

Tom White, first vice president, is urging OTAA members and the general public to contact their Ohio House and Senate members and voice their displeasure with the bills.

"We understand the downturn in the economy is frustrating for all business owners. However, we are opposed to state regulation that could needlessly force us out of business.

"This bill says that as an automotive repair business owner, I am no longer allowed to carry the breadth of products needed to maintain my competitiveness in the overall auto repair industry," says White. "Our ability to stay in business is greatly reliant on the consumers' right to choose, which may include the use of original equipment manufactured parts."

According to Gordon Gough, executive director of the OTAA, a provision in the bill could possibly handcuff auto repair facilities from participating in widespread recall programs that necessitate OE parts for make-goods.

"Based on this bill, if there were a large recall for OEM tires or some other OEM part in a brand of vehicles, non-franchised automotive parts and service facilities in Ohio would not be allowed to participate in fixing recalled vehicles," he says. "This could potentially cause an incredible backlog of vehicles awaiting recall service if this law is in place restricting automotive parts and service facilities from installing OEM tires or parts."

As an example, he cites the Firestone recall in 2001, when Ford Motor Co. and its franchised auto dealerships were unable to replace all the tires in question, and needed help from independent tire dealers and repair shops.

For more informaton, click on HB 364 and SB 204.

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