TIA Tackling Issue of Look Alike Tyres
(Akron/Tire Review/sg) During the SEMA Show the Tire Industry Association (TIA) unveiled a new “policy resolution” about the industry’s growing concern over so-called “look-alike” tyres, products with tread patterns that allegedly mimic or are identical to popular major brand models. According to the TIA, most of the look-alike tyres released in the US are for commercial vehicles, though there have been some passenger and light truck/SUV tyres on the market.
The TIA has pledged to work with the Rubber Manufacturers Association in the sharing of information pertaining to the problem. “We are glad to work with manufacturers on this issue”, said Paul Hyatt, the TIA’s past president. “It only makes sense when you consider the insurance liability issues our members are faced with on a regular basis.” Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, said: “It is apparent that import tyres have raised a whole host of issues in general, and look alike tyres specifically bring serious questions about quality and safety.”
In addition, the TIA has issued a member bulletin concerning the issue of look alike tyres, outlining some of the potential problems and their liability should problems arise. The bulletin said, in part: “A tyre is not always the tyre you, or perhaps your customer, think it is. In fact, while the outside appearance of two different tyres with the same tread design may be similar, there is no guarantee that the rubber compound is also the same. There are a number of ingredients to tyre rubber, each with a specific purpose. For example, the amount of natural rubber will often determine the ability to withstand small cuts and chips. Synthetic rubber blends can be designed for low rolling resistance, better air retention, or other performance-related characteristics.
“But rubber also contains fillers like carbon black and silica that are used by tyre manufacturers to create the specific properties required for different types of rubber used on a typical tyre. In most cases, these fillers increase the level of quality and durability while in others; they simply decrease the production costs for the manufacturer. Many of the “look-alike” tyres that appear to be the same as popular tread designs from major manufacturers will fall into the category of using fillers that do nothing for performance. While these tyres may appear to be the same in appearance, they are very different when it comes to the technology behind the construction and rubber compounds.”