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Understanding tire service regulations

Lucas Deal October 24, 2013

From the great pothole fields of the Northeast to the ice roads in the Arctic Circle and the cracked roadways that populate the southern California, commercial trucks in North America deal with an assortment of potentially damaging surfaces.

Tires receive the brunt of that damage.

To keep a truck (and trailer) rolling, tires must tirelessly be maintained.

Poor performance isn’t the only risk associated with running poor-quality tires. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict tire regulations, and trucks found with sub-standard tires can face stiff penalties under the CSA program.

This is something your service department must know.

Customers that come to your dealership for tire work don’t just expect service. They also expect expertise.

Educating your service technicians about FMCSA and other industry tire regulations will assure your customers their vehicles come out of your shop running smooth, safe and up to code.

Two ways to do that are to actively inform your staff of FMCSA tire regulations, and periodically take time to discuss the regulations with your technicians.

FMCSA’s tire regulations work in conjunction with this premise: “Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with tires of adequate capacity to support its gross weight. No motor vehicle shall be operated on tires which have been worn so smooth as to expose any tread fabric or which have any other defect likely to cause failure.”

Making this statement, and other FMCSA regulations, easily visible to your service techs is the best way to establish a culture of compliance.

This can be done any number of ways.

One option is to have a FMCSA regulation manual on hand in your service shop, and make it a requirement for your employees to consult the manual when performing repairs. This will train your technicians to follow all regulations in their work and assure your customers their vehicles exit your shop in compliance.

Posting the regulations in each bay or in a prominent location in your shop can provide a similar result.

Another option is to make FMCSA regulations available on your shop computers, either through your service software or with links to the FMCSA website.

Like the on-hand manual, this allows your technicians to quickly consult the regulations and confirm their work follows all tire-related guidelines.

Scheduling quick meetings to discuss regulations is another great way to assure customers’ trucks leave your facility safe.

This can be done at any time, but creating a consistent meeting schedule is the best way to keep employees engaged and focused on regulations. Technicians are busy, and if you don’t make an effort to keep them informed on all of their responsibilities, some may be neglected.

Having meetings to address regulation changes is another good idea. FMCSA regulations are not static; the organization routinely updates and improves its rules.

If you don’t call your employees’ attention to changes, you run the risk of them following outdated mandates rather than what is actually required.

Good intentions or not, customers aren’t going to be accepting of service providers who neglect to keep up with industry rules.

Grading and/or tracking technician performances relative to industry regulations are good ways to ensure they stay focused on their responsibilities. A technician who fails to follow FMCSA guidelines puts your customer at risk and hurts the reputation of your dealership.

And remember, following regulations are mandatory.

FMCSA says drivers “must examine each tire on a motor vehicle at the beginning of each trip and each time the vehicle is parked,” which means if a truck is in your facility, your techs are required to make sure its tires are up to code.

Technicians should know non-compliance is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Tires are too important to vehicle safety and too prominent in CSA and CVSA inspections to be neglected.

(Editor’s note: Many of these strategies are not specific to tire maintenance, and can be used for all areas of vehicle compliance.)

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