According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), several states are expected to consider legislation banning the sale of unsafe used tires. The RMA supports those efforts, as does the Tire Industry Association.
"Safety is the highest priority for the tire industry," says Dan Zielinski, the RMA's senior vice president. "Laws to stop the sale of worn out, damaged used tires will help improve highway and motorist safety."
Last year, the association successfully advocated unsafe used tire legislation in Colorado. This year, RMA expects Indiana, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas to consider bans on unsafe used tire sales.
To demonstrate the problem and availability of unsafe used tires, RMA and its members purchased several examples of unsafe used tires. Each tire exhibited one or more conditions that are clearly unsafe: worn out, visible damage to the tread or other portions of a tire, or improperly repaired.
The RMA says businesses should not be permitted to sell tires that are worn out, damaged or exhibit other unsafe conditions. it does not completely ban the sale of used tires.
"Any used tire is a risky proposition since it’s impossible to know the service history of a tire used by someone else," says Zielinski. "But when used tires are sold worn-out, damaged, improperly repaired or have other visibly unsafe conditions, states to need to take action to protect consumers."
Tires worn to 2/32nds of an inch are considered bald and are dangerous. Such tires no longer provide sufficient grip on the road, particularly under wet conditions.
Tires with damage exposing steel belts or other internal components threaten a tire' structural integrity. Improperly repaired tires can suffer loss of inflation pressure or have hidden damage that may contribute to tire failure. Tires with bulges indicate possible internal damage that can lead to tread separation.
Scrap tire data analyzed by RMA suggests 30-35 million used tires are available for sale every year. A motorist survey sponsored by RMA found that nearly one in 10 motorists said his or her car is currently riding on tires that were bought used.
"We are working to educate policymakers and consumers about the dangers of unsafe used tires and we will advocate for state laws to prohibit the sale of used tires that pose a safety risk," says Zielinski. "Used tires may seem like a bargain, but saving a few dollars isn’t worth risking the safety of motorists and passengers."