Current Issue
Published on July 2, 2001

Our View: Registering tire purchases a must

Do you provide tire purchasers with registration cards? Do you know you are required to do so?

By federal law, dealers and other retailers must furnish tire purchasers with mail-in registration cards making it possible to contact them in the event of a recall.

But many tire dealers aren't doing so. Whether they know it or not, they're breaking the law and face hefty fines if caught. Dealers not following this simple procedure need to get into compliance now.

Yet more is at stake than possibly getting caught and having to pay a fine for non-compliance. Dealers have an obligation to protect customers if something should go wrong with the tires they sold them. If customers haven't been given a chance to register their tires, contacting them becomes almost impossible.

Tire recalls happen periodically. But most are small in number, making the need for registering tires seem insignificant. It's only when a huge recall occurs-such as has recently happened with several Firestone lines-that registration gains attention.

Under rules established 19 years ago by the U.S. Department of Transportation, retailers are required to provide buyers with registration cards listing brand name and serial numbers of their newly purchased tires. Customers, in turn, may-or may not-choose to fill in their names and addresses and mail in their forms for processing. Tire makers or companies hired for this purpose record and keep this information for use later should the need arise to contact tire purchasers about a recall.

There are reasons why tire dealers and other retailers aren't complying with this requirement:

Some, for example, don't know that the law exists. Others simply are confused.

From 1971 to 1982, retailers were responsible for collecting and maintaining such records on their own or with the help of tire makers. Then, in 1982, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association persuaded Congress to make tire registration ``voluntary.''

The word ``voluntary'' seems to have confused dealers. Many mistakenly believe voluntary applies to them, meaning they may or may not have to furnish customers with registration cards. Over the years, many tire dealers apparently stopped providing such cards.

However, it's not dealers but consumers who have the choice regarding whether or not to complete the cards and mail them in.

The NTDRA, now called the Tire Association of North America (TANA), and others fought long and hard to make tire registration voluntary and to reduce the paperwork that such record keeping required.

Retailers should not jeopardize that important victory by ignoring their responsibility. Providing customers with the tire registration forms not only is required by law but makes sound business sense for dealers.


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