AKRON (May 7, 2007) — The subject of tire registration is back in the news—this time in regards to registering tires electronically.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as it periodically is required to do, requested feedback on the necessity of continuing the federal requirement for registering tires.
What it got were comments not so much on the continuation issue, but on whether to change the rule so that electronic registration is an acceptable alternative to handing out paper registration forms. As it now stands, tires can be registered electronically but the paper forms must also be given to the customer.
While this debate is important, there's another part of the tire registration issue that also needs to be addressed: Why aren't more tires registered and what can be done to improve the registration percentage?
Federal regulations require tire retailers to provide registration cards to tire purchasers and, in turn, the customers can voluntarily mail in the completed registrations.
That's a nice idea. But this process is often thwarted at various points in the cycle.
A tire manufacturer might, for instance, fail to provide the registration cards to retailers; a retailer may fail to hand them out to the tire purchaser; or the consumer, as we all tend to do from time to time, might forget or not bother to fill out and mail in the card.
There appears to be no hard statistics on how many new tires are registered annually.
The percentages most often given are between 10 percent and 30 percent, with NHTSA stating the latter.
Either way, the percentages are way too low. At least 70 percent of new tires sold each year are not being registered, which becomes an important safety issue when a defect is identified or tires are recalled and their owners need to be notified quickly.
If tire registration is so important, and we think it is, NHTSA should seriously ponder the question of why more tires aren't being registered as part of any changes it may make to the rule.
This is becoming even more crucial as more new tires enter the market from overseas manufacturers and distributors that may not know about their tire registration responsibilities.
If electronic tire registration can improve the percentage of tires being registered, the efficiency and accuracy in which it's done and the safety of the driving public, the industry should support a change to the registration rules.