United States tyre manufacturers pressed the government on Wednesday to tighten proposals for measuring tyre pressure, saying technology under consideration would not adequately warn drivers about under-inflated tyres, Reuters reported.


The news agency said the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents US and overseas tyre makers, petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to boost the minimum point at which a monitoring system would tell drivers to adjust their air pressure.


“We just want people to be warned in time,” Dan Zielinski, an industry spokesman, told Reuters.


The news agency noted that a recent federal appeals court decision struck down a proposal by the Bush administration to give car makers a choice between two systems. One would simultaneously measure pressure on all four tyres directly, while the second and less costly option would work with a vehicle’s anti-lock brakes, the report added.


According to Reuters, safety experts that include NHTSA engineers concluded the direct system would be more effective but were forced by The White House to give the industry the less expensive choice.


Industry sources told Reuters an appeal of the court ruling was unlikely, but regulators have not said which option they would pursue.


Zielinski told Reuters the tyre industry has no preference but, no matter which technology is chosen, the industry wants it set at more sensitive levels than currently proposed.


“The monitoring system is a backup tool, meant to be an indicator of when something is wrong and needs near immediate attention,” Zielinski told the news agency.


Reuters said tyre makers, stung by serious safety and legal challenges resulting from the Firestone tyre debacle in 2000 and 2001, are uniquely sensitive to measuring under-inflation and point out that US motorists do a poor job of checking their tyres and properly inflating them.


Over-inflated tyres can lead to a rougher ride and premature wear on the centre of a tyre while under-inflation can expose rubber and other materials to more heat – especially during hot weather – and create dangerous wear at the edges and sides of a tyre – this condition was a problem with some of the tyres that failed in the Firestone case, Reuters said.


According to Reuters, the tyre pressure monitoring system was required by Congress as part of sweeping vehicle safety reforms passed in the aftermath of the Firestone saga.