“While we have some genuine concerns regarding consumer backlash, it is clear that the Federal government is requiring retailers to make sure the TPMS continues to function following the purchase of aftermarket tires and wheels."
In the third scenario, TIA asked if a service provider violates the "make inoperative" provision if they inadvertently break a non-defective sensor and are unable to locate an immediate replacement but allow the vehicle to return to service because arrangements were made to obtain and install the replacement part at a future date.
NHTSA's response was, "as a general matter, a violation of the "make inoperative" prohibition does not occur until a repair business allows or intends a vehicle to be returned to use...this would be true regardless of whether arrangements have been made for future repair."
"While there will be some debate over the circumstances related to inadvertent damage, there are no questions regarding the release of the vehicle," said Rohlwing. "If the actions of the service provider made a functioning TPMS inoperable, then it cannot be returned to service until the problem is solved."
The fourth and final scenario describes a situation where a vehicle is released to the consumer without an illuminated MIL and then it illuminates after the vehicle has been driven.
According to NHTSA, "The mere illumination of the malfunction indicator lamp after the vehicle has been released by a motor vehicle repair business to the driver would not itself be a violation of the "make inoperative" provision."
"Based on NHTSA's response, we are advising tire retailers to document the status of the TPMS before and after any tire or wheel service," concluded Rohlwing. "If the electronic TPMS relearn or diagnostic tool includes the functionality to produce a print-out on the status of the system, we recommend that retailers give a copy to the consumer and retain a copy for their own records following service."
A copy of the letter is available on the Association's website, www.tireindustry.org. Retailers with questions, concerns or comments regarding the NHTSA TPMS letter can send an email to email@example.com.
The Tire Industry Association, with a 90-year history representing all segments of the national and international tire industry, is the leading advocate, as well as, administrator of technical training for tire service technicians.
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