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Feature   March 1, 2018   by Geoff Kirbyson

Don’t count on mandatory TPMS

There's little appetite in Canada to demand sensors in vehicles

Even though it seems like a no-brainer, tire pressure monitoring systems aren’t going to be mandatory on vehicles made in Canada any time soon.

Despite the fact that American regulators found enough safety and fuel-efficiency evidence to require that they be installed on all cars and trucks made in the U.S. starting a decade ago, their counterparts on this side of the border don’t feel the same way.

A spokesman for Transport Canada said it simply hasn’t been convinced to follow the U.S. lead.

“Transport Canada has not followed suit as the department was unable to establish a direct link between these devices and improved vehicle safety. Until safety data becomes available supporting the mandatory requirement of tire pressure monitoring systems, Transport Canada is not considering reviewing this decision,” he said.

Based on its research and investigation into collisions, Transport Canada said it has not identified a pattern of motor vehicle accidents across the country caused conclusively by tire failure. In the United States, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that an underinflated tire was three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Federal regulations in Canada set out the safety performance requirements for new vehicles when they are manufactured but they do not deal with the licensing or use of aftermarket modifications.

Transport Canada said they will continue to monitor the effectiveness of tire pressure monitoring systems to see if they make cars and trucks safer and said it will “take action as required.”

Regardless of what Canadian manufacturers do, their counterparts in the U.S. are going to continue to build vehicles with TPMS and a growing number of Canadians will buy those vehicles and drive them over the 49th parallel. So there will continue to be opportunities for jobbers and shops alike to sell the sensors.

“It hasn’t been a hot topic. We’re not really seeing a reason to go out there with it.”

— Dan Messner, CAA

If the day comes for mandatory TPMS in Canada, the industry is ready. Jeremy Shecter, Michigan-based national accounts manager at Schrader International, a leading manufacturer of sensors for the automotive industry, said most jobbers and distributors north of the 49th parallel already carry the product.

“They understand the safety elements and they’re ready for any [changes in] legislation. Most jobbers are already familiar with the sensors,” he said.

Every time a tire is changed, rotated or replaced in the U.S., the sensors have to in working order and the vehicle can’t leave a bay or shop if the light indicating a problem is on. By contrast, cars and trucks in Canada are allowed to leave a garage with the light on.

Mike Bundick, product marketing director for Michelin North America in Greenville, S.C., advises jobbers to make sure their shop customers are reminding drivers to check tire pressure manually and not rely solely on a notification on their dashboard.

“It is important to note that, although a big help, the presence of a TPMS does not excuse the motorist from his or her responsibility to check their tire pressures periodically,” he said.

The Canadian Automotive Association, or CAA, has no plans to lobby the federal government or automobile manufacturers to make TPMS mandatory.

“It hasn’t been a hot topic,” said Dan Messner, Winnipeg-based manager of automotive services. “We’re not really seeing a reason to go out there with it.”

Adjusting tire pressure weekly or monthly should be a regular part of vehicle maintenance regardless of whether there’s a light on the dashboard, he said. While it seems like an obvious decision, Messner questioned how driver use of that information could possibly be monitored

“There will be motorists who will ignore it for two or three weeks and others who will get on it right away,” he said.

But this is far from the first safety topic where decision makers have not been unanimous, Messner said.

“Why are daytime running lights mandatory in Canada and not in the U.S.? From a safety perspective, is one more important than the other?” he said.

Read the full feature in the January/February 2017 issue of Jobber News

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