Automaker’s Continue Move to go Lead-Free; Aftermarket Lags – UnderhoodService

Automaker’s Continue Move to go Lead-Free; Aftermarket Lags

The Ecology Center recently released its second Lead-Free Wheels Survey of new vehicles. Lead wheel balancing weights represent one of the largest ongoing uses of lead in the world.

The Ecology Center recently released its second Lead-Free Wheels Survey of new vehicles. Lead wheel balancing weights represent one of the largest ongoing uses of lead in the world. The survey of new 2006/2007 model-year vehicles showed that while many automakers have aggressively phased out lead wheel balancing, some automakers have made no progress (Chrysler) and zero aftermarket tire retailers have committed to phasing out lead wheel weights.

"Lead wheel weights falling off cars and trucks is one of the last major, unregulated sources of lead pollution in the U.S.," said Jeff Gearhart, Campaign Director of the Ecology Center. "This survey shows that lead free wheel balancing is a cost effective way to reduce the use of lead in vehicles. Anyone who installs tires needs to get on the bandwagon."

Based on the results of the 2006 survey, the Ecology Center estimates that approximately 50% of the new cars sold in the U.S. at the end of 2006 had lead-free wheel weights. This accounts for approximately 68 million lead-free wheel weights on new cars in 2006. This represents a 79% increase over 2004 when the Ecology Center estimated 38 million wheel weight were installed on new vehicles. These weights eliminated the use of over 1,500 tons of lead on vehicles in the US. The results of the survey are available at http://www.leadfreewheels.org/models.shtml.

Gearhart called for an overhaul of U.S. chemical policy, stating "The sad reality is we now have new vehicles with lead-free weights that are reverting back to lead weight when their tires are replaced. EPA must step in and regulate the use of lead weights or the U.S. will continue to be the largest consumer of lead weights in the world."

The Ecology Center has called on all auto manufacturers and tire retailers to commit to phasing out the use of lead wheel-balancing weights in the U.S. by July 2006. Use of lead weights in Europe were banned as of July 2005, and U.S. production capacity currently exists to provide the lead-free alternatives.

On average, cars and light trucks use up to 10 of these weights, which are 1/2 to 6 inches in length. Recent studies have documented that on average 13% of wheel weights fall off vehicles during normal driving. One study estimates that 3.3 million pounds of lead per year are deposited on urban roads in the United States. Lead wheel weights are actually very soft and when they fall off a vehicle they are rapidly abraded by traffic into smaller pieces, scattered into the wind as dust, washed into storm sewers and waterways, and picked up by shoes, animal paws and bicycle tires. The EPA considers lead and lead compounds “persistent bioaccumulative toxic” (PBT) chemicals because of their toxicity and because they remain in the environment for long periods of time. Lead is especially dangerous to children and developing fetuses, even in very small amounts.

More information and survey results are available at: http://www.leadfreewheels.org.

The Ecology Center is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization that works for safe and healthy communities where people live work and play. For more information, visit http://www.ecocenter.org.

You May Also Like

BendPak Founder Don Henthorn Passes Away

Grew company from small machine shop to global leader in car lifts and garage equipment.

Don Henthorn, owner and founder of BendPak Inc., peacefully passed away at home Thursday, March 28, at the age of 85. Under his leadership, BendPak has grown from a small machine shop to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of car lifts and automotive service equipment.

Management and operations of the privately owned company are unchanged. 

ASE Practice Tests Available Online

You can get a good idea of what to expect by adding the official ASE practice tests to your study plans.

AACF Celebrates 65 Years Serving the Aftermarket

AACF will be announcing more details about this commemorative fundraiser April 1st.

Bendix Releases Technical Materials for ADAS Support

They are designed to help technicians properly set up, inspect, and diagnose several components integrated with ADAS.

Dayco Adds Almost 30 Part Numbers in March

The 29 new part numbers will be available by the end of March for distributors interested in adding to their product coverage.

Other Posts

ASE Designates June as Automotive Service Professionals Month

ASE urges industry members to embrace Automotive Service Professionals Month as a platform for expressing gratitude.

ZF Aftermarket Releases 80 New Parts

The latest additions expand coverage to more than 5 million vehicles in operation.

Vehlo Acquires Shop Management Software, Shop-Ware

Shop-Ware is a cloud-based shop management platform catering to independent automotive aftermarket repair shops.

Auto Care Association Launches REPAIR Act Video

The goal is to emphasize the need for federal REPAIR Act legislation, according to the Auto Care Association.