Federal law changes how tires are maintained

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118592351412239.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of www.germes-online.com‘, ‘All new motor vehicles must now carry the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which alerts drivers about under-inflated and flat tires. TPMS affects passenger cars, SUVs, trucks and buses with gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. Vehicles with dual rear wheels are exempt.‘);

SOUTH BELOIT—For more than 25 years, Jack’s Tire Sales and Service has been offering its customers free rotation for the life of the tires purchased at their shop. The free rotation itself will still be an offer Jack’s can make, but a new federal mandate may create labor costs that will affect Jack’s, and all other U.S. tire dealers, even with a service as simple as rotating tires.

“Most vehicles that were manufactured since September 2006 are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS),” said Jack Lovejoy, owner of Jack’s Tire Sales and Service. “But the federal mandate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now requires us to do things differently for all cars with TPMS.”

All new motor vehicles must now carry the TPMS warning system, which alerts drivers about under-inflated and flat tires. TPMS affects passenger cars, SUVs, trucks and buses with gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. Vehicles with dual rear wheels are exempt.

Tire installers and maintenance personnel are not permitted to prohibit TPMS from functioning, and the system may need resetting after tire repair and rotation.

Each tire carries a separate pressure sensor, part of the valve assembly system. A warning light appears on the vehicle’s information dashboard, as well as an alert for when there is a malfunction of the TPMS.

The system is designed to warn a driver within 20 minutes of when one or more tires have 25 percent less cold air pressure than recommended by the manufacturers.

But what this means to the consumer and the tire dealer is the requirement for trained technicians to reset the system, using special tools, and often requiring significant time for labor needed to carry out these procedures. Care and extra time will be involved replacing, repairing and rotating tires, even with free rotations, an added value offered to customers.

A damaged sensor can range from $80 to $300 for replacement. Also, the system requires special valve caps and valve cores, and sensors have an internal battery that is not replaceable. The life of an average battery is five to nine years.

Consumers should also note that products designed to fix flats may damage and clog the sensors, and require costly replacement.

The technicians at Jack’s Tire Sales and Service have had extensive training in TPMS systems, and are ready to address most problem-solving about TPMS. But, as with all new products and procedures, tire dealer personnel and customers need to be patient for the period of time necessary to familiarize themselves with these new systems and compliance regulations.

“We are committed to customer service,” said Lovejoy. “We are confident that our staff is ready to handle the TPMS regulations, and we will make this as fair as possible for our customers.”

from the Aug 1-7, 2007, issue

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