Tire Pressure, Lawyer Litigation and Politics – What About Reality, Fuel Savings and Vehicle Safety

By admin ~ September 17th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

Do you remember when the Ford Explorer and Firestone Tire issue rocked the automotive world? It was a huge show down between class action lawyers and the industry, with the government regulators close in tow. Billions of dollars in future company revenues were lost, brand names torched and the lawsuit ended with a huge settlement. The regulators were expected to make some huge changes, but that is not what happened.

The tire pressure issue was over turned by the NHTSA, but many expected it to come back stronger next time as consumer groups and politicians judging the wind flow see the political advantage of caving into such demands came to the opportunistic table. Folks in the tire business cringe to consider it, as it will open the tire industry to more class action lawsuits.
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The RMA Rubber Manufacturers Association wanted to fight PSI level (amount of air in the tires) definitions, because it is not a one size fits all. Many things go into deciding proper inflation and PSI levels depending on such things:
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Snow handling
Wet & dry braking
Braking & traction requirements
Stopping distances
Roll-over resistance
Fuel economy
Noise
Vibration
Harmonics
Comfort of ride
Uniformity of tread wear
Balance
Cornering capabilities
Tire rotation interval specifications
Endurance ratings,
Tread wear tests
High speed performance
Residual alignment torque
Ease of mounting on production line
Etc.
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You can see the issues manufacturers have to deal with when it comes to tires. Indeed, this tire issue has even entered the political scene with Presidential Candidate Barrack Obama when he stated that America could save 2 to 4% of its fuel consumption by simply pumping up its tires to the proper specified inflation recommendations. Tire pressure is an important factor to consider even if it is a long way from solving America’s dependence on Middle Eastern Foreign Oil.

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