Guest Editorial: Underinflated Tires and Environmental Impact

As you may know, California, through its California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been leading the charge in cleaning up the environment. What you may not be aware of is that the state California has passed a law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles operating with under inflated tires.

The regulation can be found in Section 95550 of the California Code of Regulations, Title 17, and is scheduled to be effective as of September 1, 2010. The regulation applies to all automotive service providers performing or offering to perform automotive maintenance or repair service in California.

CARB has said the regulation will result in “better fuel economy, reduced carbon emissions and increased safety. Proper tire inflation is estimated to annually eliminate 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the state’s fuel consumption by 75 million gallons and extend the average tire’s useful life by 4,700 miles.”

Here is a summary of requirements and compliance deadlines. By September 1, 2010, all automotive service providers are required to:
Check and inflate each vehicle’s tires to the recommended tire pressure rating, with air or nitrogen, as appropriate, at the time of performing any automotive maintenance or repair service.
Indicate on the vehicle service invoice that a tire inflation service was completed and the tire pressure measurements after the services were performed.
Perform the tire pressure service using a tire pressure gauge with a total permissible error no greater that +/- two pounds per square inch (psi).
Have access to a tire inflation reference that is current within three years of publication.
Keep a copy of the vehicle service invoice for a minimum of three years and make the vehicle service invoice available to CARB or its authorized representative upon request.

The regulation defines an underinflated tire as having a pressure of one pound per square inch or more below the recommended tire pressure rating.

With very few exceptions, every vehicle under a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds will be required to be checked, inflated and the information recorded. One exception is that the vehicle owner may deny the service with the caveat that their tires have been adjusted within the last 30 days or will be adjusted within the next seven days.

In the case of nitrogen filled tires being brought to a facility without nitrogen inflation apparatus, the pressure check must be accomplished but the inflation, if required, may be waived. However, the waiver must still be recorded and the data retained by the facility for the three-year period mandated by the regulation.

Every facility providing automotive service must comply with this regulation.

Interestingly, the regulation is silent as to whether this service is to be provided gratis by the facility, or if there is an allowable fee that can be imposed by the provider, in which case the customer bears the brunt of this mandated service. In any case, the records must be made and maintained by the service provider.

This regulation can effect up to 38,000 automotive service businesses in the State of California.

You have to wonder if such a regulation will spread across the country. There has been a trend that environmental laws created in the Golden State eventually find their way into local, state and federal regulations.

Only time will tell.

Mark Duranty is president of Automotive Solutions Inc. (ASI). Based in Newport Beach, CA, the company, founded in 2008, has an established vehicle inspection software program that has the ability for data capture and retention that can record and store vehicle inspection records electronically. Duranty’s background includes working with an automotive diagnostic manufacturer. He has been associated with the automotive repair industry for more than 15 years.