CAA: Replacement Tire Efficiency Regulations Should Not Include Auto Body Shops
Written by Ed Attanasio, Autobody News
Published March 23, 2023
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is in the process of creating new regulations to require all tire retailers---including auto body shops---to post signs and provide disclosures to consumers purchasing replacement tires. The California Autobody Association (CAA) is concerned and is requesting the CEC provide an exemption for auto body and collision shops beginning April 1, 2025.
Should these regulations include body shops? In the past, collision repair has gotten lumped in with other auto repair business categories. Is this the case with these new tire regulations?
Autobody News sat down with Jack Molodanof, CAA lobbyist, who shared the organization’s concerns about this proposed regulation and how it can affect body shops if passed as written.
What are these regulations and why is the CAA concerned about how it will impact body shops?
These regulations are intended to implement a replacement tire program and tire star rating system to increase energy efficiency of replacement tires in California. The regulations are based on legislation that passed 20 years ago, AB 844. Overall, the CAA is supportive of efforts making tires more energy efficient for consumers. Unfortunately, the regulations are drafted so broadly that they capture and include auto body repair shops in the definition of tire dealers.
Auto body and collision repair facilities are auto repair dealers who perform repairs or reconstruction of automobile or truck bodies, structures or frames. While performing such collision repairs, it may be necessary replace a damaged wheel and tire.
The auto body repair business is not in the primary business of selling tires to the general public but will locate a replacement tire to match the damaged tire as part of the collision repair. Consumers do not go to auto body shops to buy a new set of replacement tires. Consumers go to auto body repair facilities because of a vehicle accident and wish to have collision damage repaired. The auto body dealer is not a "tire dealer” or “tire retailer” as contemplated by these regulations. It would be unreasonable to expect an auto body repair shop to meet the proposed regulation requirements.
The California Air Resources Board took such types of low volume businesses in consideration when they developed the "check and inflate" tire regulations and provided exemptions for certain businesses. As an alternative to an exemption, CAA has recommended the definition of tire dealer and retailer be revised to include only those that are primarily in the business of selling tires which would exempt the occasion tire replacement situations.
If these regulations pass, will it create more work for body shops?
The language in the regulation requiring pricing information on signage for each replacement tire is vague, ambiguous and unworkable for auto repair shops. The regulations state “that each physical retail location must prominently display a tire replacement sign displaying the price of any replacement tire and also include California Tire Efficiency Rating and potential to reduce fuel consumption, the potential driver cost savings and general environmental benefits. The sign must display the web address and provide a QR code linking to the Energy Commission’s Replacement Tire Efficiency Program search page. The signs must also meet certain, dimension, point type and height requirements.”
Displaying pricing information for each replacement tire is unworkable for dealers. Some retail tire dealers have hundreds of tires in stock and prices change regularly due to economic factors. The tire dealer would literally need a sign for each tire, meaning hundreds of individual signs, and every time prices change, they would have to replace each sign. This is not practical.
Auto repair dealers such as auto body shops do not have tires in stock. They either order from a distributor or sublet the tire repairs. Having signs with pricing when they don't even know the price until they purchase from a third party is unfair and unreasonable.
The sign posting language requirements is restrictive, burdensome and may not accomplish the proposed regulation goals. The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), which regulates all auto repair shops, including tire dealers, currently has its own sign requirements. The BAR requirements provide the shop flexibility to ensure signage is placed in a location where it is clearly visible to the general public, and these regulations should provide the same flexibility.
Will these signs even be effective to educate consumers on tire efficiency?
There are so many signs that are already required to be posted by dealers, such as BAR signs, Prop 65 signs, smog check signs, brake station signs, storage signs, battery fee signs, video recording signs, ADA signs, etc., and permit postings such as business licenses, fire permits, air quality management permits and the list goes on.
There is a proliferation of signs currently required to be posted by dealers and the question becomes: how effective would another sign be in a shop? Is this really the most effective way to educate consumers about tire efficiency? CAA is also concerned that the specific sign placement requirements may end up being an opportunity for predatory attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits against small businesses because the sign wasn’t in the proper location.
Are there any other concerns about the regulation?
Independent verification of disclosure: There will be more paperwork for shops with these regulations too. Stated in the regulations, upon request of a customer, a tire dealer shall provide the customer with a Tire Energy Efficiency Disclosure for any replacement tire that the tire retailer offers for sale. The Tire Energy Efficiency Disclosure shall display the tire brand name, rolling resistance star rating, treadwear and traction rating, the peak traction rating, the operating cost and QR code to the Energy Commission’s Tire Replacement Program.
The regulations are unclear whether the auto repair shop must independently verify these disclosures to make sure it’s accurate. Will the shop be able to rely on the tire manufacturer disclosures and simply pass information along to consumer without liability? It would be impractical to have a shop independently verify tire energy disclosure information for every tire it sells. Who is ultimately responsible for this information?