The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Tire Industry Asks U.S. to Change Pressure Monitor Rule

July 23, 2002

The tire pressure monitors required by the federal government beginning with the next model year will not always tell drivers when their tires are underinflated and could lead to even more accidents, the tire industry says.The standard issued last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) allows tire pressure to drop up to 30 percent below the recommended level before warning the driver.The problem, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), is that many manufacturers set the recommended inflation level just above or at the amount needed to safely operate a fully loaded vehicle. A 30-percent drop would be unsafe in many vehicles, it found. RMA checked 100 vehicles and found that if the inflation level dropped 30 percent, 76 would be running dangerously low if full of passengers and gear. "The rule is not going to warn motorists when it should and it will create a false sense of security," said Donald Shea, the association's president.The group did not release the models it checked, but said the problem is generally greater in pickup trucks, minivans, and full-size cars than in smaller cars. Surveys show few motorists regularly check their tire pressure, and the RMA is concerned even fewer will do so after the rule goes into effect.RMA filed a petition with NHTSA on July 19, requesting that the agency require automakers to set the recommended inflation pressure high enough to carry the vehicle load even if there is a 30-percent drop.
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