FTC eliminates tire guides against TIA´s wishes

Sept. 20, 2004

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is eliminating its 36-year-old "Tire Advertising and Labeling Guides" because they are obsolete.

"The vast majority of tire guide provisions are adequately addressed by other laws and regulations... or have been rendered obsolete because of changes in the market," according to the commission.

The FTC says guides have remained largely unchanged since the current regulations became effective in 1968, when bias-ply tires were the norm. "Consumers now have access to the Internet, national retailers, regional tire stores, and new car dealerships, in addition to the full-service gas stations and locally owned stores that dominated the earlier market.

"The bias-ply tire that was standard when the guides were created has been largely replaced by radial tires, and consumers have access to a range of brands, tread patterns, and mileage warranties," says the commission. "Moreover, since the tire guides were adopted, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been created and developed its own comprehensive regulations covering disclosure of information on tires.

"These changes, along with other statutes, regulations, and commission industry guides, have made the tire guides obsolete and redundant."

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) says it is surprised by the FTC´s decision to elimnate the guides.

"The FTC’s decision to rescind these regulations is surprising, although we don’t believe it will have a major impact on the tire industry," says Roy Littlefield, TIA’s executive vice president.

"It’s because these guides have been in place for so long that the industry’s advertising practices are running smoothly. By removing the guides, it is possible, although we hope unlikely, that dishonest retailers could misrepresent their products to consumers."

In October of 2003, TIA submitted comments to the FTC stating, "TIA believes strongly that the Tire Advertising and Labeling Guides need to remain in place but need to be updated to reflect today’s tire marketplace more accurately. TIA is dedicated to more consumer education at the point-of-sale, and these guides provide important information to the consumers and tire dealers alike."

At the time, TIA recommended that the guides be updated to address Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG), Internet and phone sales, and to retain other terms such as "blemished," "trade-ins" or "take-offs" for dealers who still sell those tires.