Did you know the Japanese will soon not be able to sell any electronic device if purchased before 2001? The government is eliminating the second hand market by law to force people to buy new products, an obvious and huge catering to Japanese electronic companies. It sounds totally ridiculous but there’s more. (Be sure to read the update at the end of this post)
The Japanese already have a law that requires cars to go through a technical inspection at 3 years of age at a cost of 1500 to 3500 euros and afterwards every two years until they are 10 years old and then it’s every year. Whatever is found during the inspection is automatically fixed and the owner is billed without prior knowledge or consent. Nice huh? Obviously, the Japanese turn over cars a lot, often right around 3 years of age. Nice deal for the auto companies, not so good for auto buyers since cars can last a very long time without any trouble at all.
So what’s that have to do with anything outside of Japan? Just this morning there is a story about tire manufacturers recommending tire replacement after 10 years and some saying it should be 6 years. But here’s the interesting quote:
Although (Bridgestone Firestone) is not aware of technical data that supports a specific tire service life, the replacement of tires 10 years after the date of production is an important consideration, the company told dealers in a bulletin last October.
Bridgestone Firestone spokesman Dan MacDonald said the memo follows the Japan Automotive Tire Manufacturers Association's recommendation. It's common sense, he said. We can't say it's based on any in-depth research. There really isn't data that would give you a lifespan for a tire.
So they have no data that shows tires need to be replaced but they refer to recommendations of Japan’s tire manufacturers as a guide. Hmm … now do you see the connection?
We’ve all seen old tires with sidewalls that look like they couldn’t hold any air which should obviously be replaced and some tires made with older technology may need replacement due to degradation but the latest tires may last a very long time and a blanket “replace after x number of years” recommendation may not make sense.
The motivation for this is probably twofold, the number of lawsuits based on tire failure has been high and if they recommend replacement and someone has an accident with an older tire they point to age as a factor and show the owner was negligent. The other factor may just be the desire to sell more tires.
Saying tires should be replaced has the common sense sound of “eat more vegetables and exercise” easy to say and hard to argue with but many of us have well maintained older vehicles where tires and other parts will last a long time and are perfectly safe. Once the idea is accepted as a recommendation, it’s a short step to requirements to replace upon vehicle inspection. If tires can have this requirement then what other parts might fall into this category of replace after a set number of years? Just a thought.
see also: Making Cars Last Forever