In this age of high-speed electronic communications, it's hard to believe there's contention over whether to permit the registration of tires online, but there is.
On one side is CIMS Inc., an Akron-based company that offers tire registration forms and serves as a clearinghouse for collected information. CIMS, which does not offer online registration, has come out against registration via the Internet.
It claims this would create additional paperwork for tire dealers by requiring them to provide a supplemental form to consumers informing them of this registration option.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which has the support of the Tire Industry Association, offers another view. The RMA has written the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the agency to clarify its regulations-adopted years ago before the Internet even existed-to allow Web-based tire registration as a complement to the current mail-in form.
This issue might be worth debating if a high percentage of tires was being registered each year. But with no more than 10 percent of tire registration cards being returned to manufacturers and many of them filled out inaccurately or not completely, ac-cording to the RMA (CIMS places the number much higher), any system that might improve upon this effort is worth trying.
Already two tire makers, Pirelli Tire North America Inc. and Yokohama Tire Corp., have added tire registration forms to their Web sites, maintaining the current regulations allow this as long they continue to offer the mail-in forms as well, the RMA said. So, the interest in developing online registration exists among tire makers.
The current tire registration legislation, established in 1982, requires retailers to provide tire buyers with registration cards listing brand name and tire identification numbers for their newly purchased tires.
Customers are responsible for filling in the information and mailing in the forms for processing, either to tire makers or companies hired for this purpose. The information is recorded and stored should a need arise to contact tire purchasers about a recall.
While we're not in favor of creating more paperwork for tire dealers as CIMS contends would happen by allowing online registration, something needs to be done to improve tire registration numbers. Maybe offering Internet registration is part of the answer.
Today, many consumers prefer to communicate electronically. Coupled with the heightened awareness of the importance of tires to vehicle safety, a large percentage of these consumers might be more apt to register their tires using the Internet-such as by e-mail or on a tire maker's Web site-than by the traditional mail-in form.
If providing another avenue for consumers to register tires boosts compliance, we're all for it.