State senator defends move to require garages to check tire pressure

CARSON CITY -- Requiring garages to inflate your tires is not a waste of the Legislature's time, but a good way to save lives and gasoline, clean the air and even reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, a state senator said Thursday.

"It is pretty easy to do, and it really costs no money," said Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas. "It is silly if we don't do it."

Schneider fiercely defended his Senate Bill 144 that would require garages, a definition that includes oil changing businesses, to check and inflate to manufacturer's specifications the air pressure on all four tires of vehicles.

If they fail to follow the requirement, then the Department of Motor Vehicles could revoke their licenses.

No vote was taken on his bill.

But as he was testifying before the Senate Transportation Committee, Schneider complained about tweeters sending out messages that his bill was a waste of the Legislature's time. He also repeatedly criticized the Review-Journal's editorial board for last summer coming out in opposition to his tire inflation proposal when it was authorized by an interim legislative committee.

The editorial said Nevadans should check their tire pressure to be safe, but businesses didn't need more regulations.

Much the same comments were made at the June 28 meeting by then Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno. She said businesses should not be mandated to check tire pressure because that was a "personal responsibility." Gansert is now Gov. Brian Sandoval's chief of staff.

At Thursday's hearing, Schneider cited a California study that tire life would be extended by 4,700 miles if tires were properly inflated. He also said 38 percent of motorists are driving cars with severely underinflated tires.

That may be the primary reason for blowouts that kill some Las Vegans on hot summer days, Schneider said.

But Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, questioned whether garage owners might be liable if they changed a tire's pressure and the car was in an accident.

"Who would be at fault?" she asked.

Terrible Herbst lobbyist Sean Higgins said his company's mechanics already check and adjust tire pressure voluntarily. "But people are in and out in 20 minutes. We cannot be completely accurate."

While they voluntarily check tire pressure now, Higgins said passage of the bill could make them liable for damages.

"There is no state law requiring us to do it today," he said.

Wayne Frediani, a lobbyist for the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association, agreed that the bill would save lives and gasoline. "But my question is, 'How would you enforce it?' "

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.