Monday, 07 March 2011 19:06

Bills in California, Nevada Address Tire Pressure Check Fines for Body Shops

A California state senator has introduced a bill to reduce the penalties auto repairers face if they don’t check the tire pressures on every vehicle they service.

Meanwhile, a Nevada state senator has introduced his own bill to force tire dealers and auto repairers to check vehicle tire pressures, arguing for the measure as a safety and energy-saving tool.

The California Air Resources Board issued its tire pressure rule Sept. 1, 2010, two days after the California Office of Administrative Law approved it. The OAL had rejected two previous versions of the regulation for not meeting the state’s standards for clarity and necessity.

Promulgated expressly for greenhouse gas reduction, the CARB regulation requires an estimated 40,000 auto service providers in California to check and if necessary adjust the pressure on the tires of every vehicle they service or repair up to 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight, except for motorcycles and off-road vehicles.

The regulation states that auto service providers must use tire gauges with an error range of no more than 2 psi; have access to a tire inflation reference document not more than three years old; note on invoices that tire inflation was performed; and keep copies of the invoices for at least three years to make available to CARB inspectors upon request.

Tire pressure checks aren’t necessary if customers refuse the service or repairers deem the tires unsafe. However, invoices must note why the checks weren’t performed.

According to a Frequently Asked Questions section on the CARB website dated October 2010, auto repairers were expected to begin complying with the tire pressure regulation immediately, but staff was available to help implement the rule and answer questions regarding compliance.

Garages also don’t have to wait for tires to cool down after being brought in for service to perform tire checks, the FAQ stated.

The regulation as currently written allows for fines of up to $1,000 per violation, but SB 211—introduced Feb. 8 by Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet—would limit penalties to no more than $20 for the first violation and $50 for each subsequent violation.

This reduction would be a boon for California tire dealers and auto repairers, according to Terry Leveille, legislative representative for the California Tire Dealers Association.

“This bill is more of a fine-tune than a drastic change,” Leveille said. “We accept the rationale of fuel efficiency, but if there’s a problem we don’t want any of our members going to jail. It should be akin to a seat-belt law.”

Leveille said that, to his knowledge, no CTDA member has been cited for violating the tire pressure law. “I don’t even think any of our members have been inspected yet,” he said.

Although CARB said it would have its staff go to repair shops to educate them about the new rule, Leveille said he hadn’t heard of that happening.

“They’re relying on organizations like us to get the word out,” he said. “But Sam’s Auto Shop in Montebello, without professional affiliations, might not have been informed.”

No hearings have yet been scheduled for SB 211, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Emmerson.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, has introduced his own tire pressure legislation in the Nevada Senate.

SB 144, Sen. Schneider’s bill, would require auto repairers to check and adjust the tire pressure on every vehicle they service or repair, or face losing their operating registrations.

The Nevada Senate Committee on Transportation held a hearing on SB 144 Feb. 17, but took no action on the bill.

According to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sen. Schneider touted his bill as a necessity on both safety and environmental grounds, but other senators questioned whether garage owners would be held liable if a tire blew out and caused an accident after being checked.