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Published on August 27, 2007

Letter: RFID solution to recalls

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Opinion

RFID solution to recalls


In the letter to the editor “Who's responsible?” in the July 16 issue of Tire Business, reader Jeff Voigt, owner of Bastrop Tire & Automotive L.L.C. in Bastrop, Texas, raises an important point about how tire shops address potentially recalled tires.


As Mr. Voigt notes, there are no “magic databases” where tire dealers can enter a tire's Department of Transportation (DOT) number to determine whether a subject tire is recalled.


The system to identify and notify consumers about a tire recall is based on the Tire Identification Number (TIN) and consumer registration cards. This decades-old, ineffective and outdated system was largely designed by the tire industry, which fought attempts to make it more consumer-friendly.


Pre-Firestone/Ford tire recalls were relatively rare and generally small. But increasing oversight along with increased market share of light trucks—which have a greater susceptibility to crashes in the event of a tire failure—have added to the increased number and size of tire recalls in recent years. After the initial media coverage and the scant number of owners who have registered their tires are notified, our system breaks down.


There are many reasons why owners may not learn about a tire recall. Even with vastly improved tire registration, vehicles are sold, owners move, etc.


The remedy lies not in the continued use of the TIN and tire registration but in a technological solution such as radio frequency identification (RFID). Among their many benefits, RFID tags would allow any professional service shop to quickly determine whether a tire is part of a recall simply by using an inexpensive scan tool.


While Mr. Voigt expressed outrage about a jury verdict against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a recent tire failure-related lawsuit, and at customers who did not take responsibility for some of the choices they made, it is more outrageous that the tire industry has failed to take responsibility for developing a recall system that works.


Sean Kane


President


Safety Research & Strategies Inc.


Rehoboth, Mass.

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