Tyre aging is a fraught question as I have said before. Our tyres degrade for all sorts of reasons; but it is not easy to apply chronological values to this process. What is more, in the course of their service lives, tyres may be subject to all kinds of abuse which may well affect their structure integrity. But again these events cannot be time-related.
In Britain, this issue has come to the fore because of several high profile accidents involving trucks and buses which sadly resulted in casualties and fatalities and which have given rise to determined lobbying by campaigners seeking to put a statutory limit on the age at which a tyre, especially heavy duty tyres may be used or sold. The result is that the UK is now proposing a ban on heavy duty tyres over 10 years of age and of possibly extending this to tyres used on taxis as well.
Most new tyre manufacturers, conscious of the complexities of this issue, have been rightly cautious of setting an age limit on the use of their products instead stressing the importance of regular checking and good maintenance. And what about retreaded tyres? Should such a limit apply to the age of the original casing or to its date of re-manufacturer? In a further quirk, it is proposed to distinguish between tyres fitted to steer axles as opposed to other axles on a vehicle. This all seems more reactive than pro-active.
In Britain vehicles are subject to annual safety checks; so in theory these should provide the opportunity to look at the health of a vehicles tyres. But again there are some difficulties here. As in many countries none too well-regulated market in second-hand tyres which are often of questionable quality and which can be fitted to a vehicle at any time in its life. Another factor is that big truck and operators often maintain tyre ‘banks’ which they routinely draw on to supplement existing vehicle sets. Complicated.
In all of this, there is yet another reality. Most heavy vehicles clock up high annual ‘mileages’ so tyres wear out in very much less time than the proposed 10 years anyway. No, this seems like a proposal that is just attempting to solve an ill-defined set of circumstances. Headline grabbing, yes; problem-solving no.
PRIMACY V. MICHELIN
This is what Bridgestone v Michelin rivalry is all about.
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