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Published on September 24, 2007

Tire registration can aid recalls

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Opinion

The fact that so few tires have been recovered to date from the recall of 255,000 allegedly defective Chinese-made light truck tires illustrates, once again, the importance of tire registration.


If nothing else, it sends a direct reminder to tire retailers about their responsibility under federal law to hand out tire registration forms to their new tire customers. That's something many retailers fail to do. Then it's up to the customers to fill out and return them so they can be contacted in the event their tires have been recalled.


Without this information, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for tire manufacturers, distributors and importers to contact the owners of affected tires and get potentially unsafe products off the road and replaced.


Unfortunately, this has been the situation with Foreign Tire Sales (FTS) Inc.'s recall of more than a quarter million light truck tires manufactured by China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. The importer had received only a few tire registration cards from consumers and as a result has had to rely on advertising and other types of media to get the word out.


Despite producing a video seen by an estimated 41 million people, placing ads in newspapers that reached a total circulation of 5 million readers and receiving more than half a million hits on its Web site, FTS' tire recall, as of Sept. 14, had recovered fewer than 300 tires from consumers and only about 4,000 from tire dealers. That's obviously not enough.


Even in today's high-tech age, where information can be sent instantaneously and electronically around the world, the news about the FTS recall apparently has not reached all the right people—that is, the owners of the tires in question.


The only way to accomplish this effectively is by having a list, including addresses, of the tires' owners, which can be accessed easily and quickly when needed.


The FTS case is not the first time this issue of tire registration—or lack of registrations—has come up. It happens every time there is a recall. Then the impacted tire manufacturers, distributors or importers find themselves scrambling to reach their customers who own these tires.


Wouldn't it be easier and much less expensive if all they had to do was tap into their tire registration list to contact the appropriate individuals?


It's high time tire retailers, and the industry in general, take seriously their role when it comes to tire registration.


While the law technically requires retailers to provide their customers with tire registration cards that they can voluntarily send or not send in, it does not prohibit retailers from registering their customers' tires, either electronically or by mailing in the cards themselves. Nor should it stop dealers from encouraging tire buyers to register the tires.


The bottom line is, tire manufacturers, wholesalers and importers can get the process going by actually providing their retailers with registration cards.


Tire registration is important, especially at the time of a recall. For the safety of everyone on our nation's highways, it shouldn't be left as an afterthought.

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