COMMENTS: Car Talk

With the cost of a barrel of crude oil closing above $125 and the average cost of a gallon of gasoline rising above $3.65, we can expect more obituaries for the Sports Utility Vehicle. Last week ABC had Betsy Stark (embargoed link) introduce us to the Smart Car as an alternative. Now CBS's Sandra Hughes has found a used car dealership in Miami that will not even accept an SUV as a trade-in, with prices falling too fast for the Blue Book to keep up. Hughes touted the Toyota Yaris, the Honda Fit and Ford Focus as hot sellers: "Forget bigger is better. It is now Honey, I Shrunk the Car."

Meanwhile, Brian Ross filed an Investigates preview of his 20/20 expose for ABC on lax regulation of tires for automobiles. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford Motors have called for sell-by dates. Even if they have never been used, tires dry out over time and after six years the risk grows that the tread can peel off. "Tire industry lobbyists have successfully fought any effort to put expiration dates" on their product. Ross showed us that every tire does have a stamp code that records its date of manufacture so consumers can decipher tire freshness if they know the formula.


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