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Tire news, reviews, tips and links!

A first look at the proposed NHTSA’s new tire information labels

nhtsa-tire-labelsAs part of the effort to educate consumers about improving gas mileage, the Department of Transportation has unveilved a new labeling system that offers an easy way to compare fuel efficiency, wet traction and treadwear ratings among different tires. These labels, which will be affixed to all tires and clearly visible at the point of sale, are the first ones to include information about a tire’s impact on fuel economy. Mileage ratings are calculated by measuring the rolling resistance of the tire.

In addition to putting the new labels on the tire, consumers will also be able to browse a comprehensive ratings database at www.safercar.gov. The intent behind the new labeling system is to lead consumer’s to make more environmentally-friendly and fuel efficient purchases. This puts pressure on manufacturers to create low rolling resistance models that will appeal to conscious consumers.

“The proposal takes the guess work out of buying the best tires for your vehicle,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Our proposal would let consumers look at a single label and compare a tire’s overall performance as it relates to fuel economy, safety and durability.”


Filed under: Eco-friendly Tires, Low Rolling Resistance Tires, Tire News, , , , ,

UPDATE: US trade board rules against Chinese tire manufacturers

CHINA-US-CONSUMER-RECALL-FILES

Nearly two months ago, U.S. Steelworkers asked President Obama to limit the amount of Chinese tires being imported into the country. The union felt that the sheer volume of Chinese tires was making it very difficult to compete for domestic manufacturers who are already being hit hard by the recession. Now the verdict is in.

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled 4-2 today against Chinese tire exporters. The trade board found that Chinese manufacturers had nearly tripled exports between 2004 and 2008, a glut which caused plant closures and the loss of nearly 5,100 domestic jobs. These “anticompetitive practices” caused enough market disruption to enforce trade laws designed to even the playing field.

The Chinese manufacturers affected by the ruling responded with claims that US manufacturers had scaled back their offerings in the low-cost tire category, which is where foreign manufacturers are now compete. Shanghai-based GITI said they were “disappointed” with the ruling. The company believes that the ruling will only cause importers to look to other countries for inexpensive tires – not help the domestic industry. Some domestic groups, such as The American Coalition for Free Trade In Tires, sided against the ruling as well.

The Steelworkers Union, on the other hand, applauded the verdict, which they believe will give the U.S. tire industry time to get itself back on its feet.

The new 5% quota is designed to return Chinese tire imports to their 2005 level.

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California Energy Commission proposes new tire efficiency ratings

The CEC proposed a tire efficiency rating that will allow consumers to easily compare rolling resistance between tires of the same size and load index.

The CEC proposed a tire efficiency rating that will allow consumers to easily compare rolling resistance between tires of the same size and load index.

With demand for fuel-efficient low rolling resistance tires climbing, some officials in California are looking for ways to foster competition between tire manufacturers. By mandating official tire efficiency regulations, the California Energy Commission hopes that tire makers will dedicate more time and resources to creating the most efficient tires on the market.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association responded to the CEC’s proposal by pointing out the immense costs that could go in to instituting and adhering to the new regulations – costs the RMA estimates will land in the $20 million range. The RMA was also quick to point out that there already is a 5-star efficiency rating system in place, which ranks tires based on their rolling resistance coefficient. However, the ratings proposed by the CEC would rate tires of the same size and load index against each other for results that are easier to compare and understand.

The CEC believes the rating system will force competition in the market.  “A ranking system driven by the ‘best in class tire’ can ignite a competitive spirit,” the CEC said.

Despite the CEC’s predictions, tire manufacturers still seem reluctant to support the plan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is already in the process of putting together rolling resistance regulations, which is another reason RMA-member manufacturers are balking at the CEC’s proposal. It will be interesting to see who wins this battle. Either way, it’s important that some form of tire efficiency rating is put into place. This simple measure makes it easier for consumers to make educated purchasing decisions that eventually benefit everyone.

Filed under: Eco-friendly Tires, Low Rolling Resistance Tires, Tire News, , ,

National Tire Safety Week: June 7-13

June 7-13 is National Tire Safey Week in the U.S.

June 7-13 is National Tire Safety Week in the U.S.

National Tire Safety Week, taking place this year in June for the first time, is a 7 day nationwide event held to raise awareness about proper tire maintenance and safety practices. This industry event has been sponsored and coordinated by The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association for 8 consecutive years. If you own a wholesale tire business or retail shop, this week is a great time to get involved in the effort to educate your customers. Customers who learn about the importance of tire safety and vehicle maintenance are more likely to use your services, so why not be the one to do the educating?

To get involved during National Tire Safety Week, consider printing up some brochures and reading material for your customers. You can include common tire problems and safety tips that will help them drive safely. To really fuel your marketing efforts, consider buying imprinted tire gauges with your company name and telephone number on them. By giving out a tire gauge to your customers you create a lasting impression and increase the odds that they will remember your company the next time they need to purchase tires or have their vehicle serviced.

“Each year, we continue to see more tire and auto industry retail locations join in the effort to help educate motorists about the benefits of regular tire maintenance,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president. “Ensuring that tires are properly inflated every month will save consumers money at the gas pump, help keep tires rolling longer and promote safety.”

For more Tire Safety Week ideas as well as fact sheets and educational material, visit BeTireSmart.org. This RMA-run Web site has recent tire safety news, training material and assorted media. Stay proactive this week! Your efforts will give you the competitive advantage over competition who view National Tire Safety Week as “just another week.”

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Environmental groups petition EPA to ban lead tire weights

lead-tire-weightsLead tire weights are small pieces of metal which are clipped to the rims of light truck and passenger tires in order to balance them out. On average, 4.5oz of lead is clipped to the wheel rims of every automobile in the United States! While the weights certainly do their part to balance tires, they often come loose and fall off as the vehicle is moving. This allows lead to be washed into waterways, eaten by animals, or pulverized into toxic dust over time. Once lead enters the atmosphere or water, it becomes extremely toxic to living creatures.

Now, a coalition of environmental groups is spearheading another effort to get lead tire weights banned. The federal government has already banned the use of lead in paint, gasoline and other products. It is estimated that tire weights are responsible for contributing over one million pounds of uncontrolled and unmanaged lead into the environment every year. The Bush administration rejected a similar petition 4 years ago citing lack of evidence despite numerous studies.

There are numerous tire weight alternatives that do not use lead, which is one of the 31 so-called toxic “priority chemicals” that has already been targeted for reduction by the EPA. Currently lead tire weights make up 80% of the market. A spokesperson from the EPA announced they had received the petition and would read and deliver their response within 90 days. A ban could not only affect weight manufacturers such as Henessy-Bada, Perfect Equipment and Plombco Inc, but also retail and wholesale tire distributors who would have to deal with inventory that currently is using lead weights.

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