A few months ago, Tire Business received a letter in response to our editorial questioning why a majority of tire dealers aren't registering their customers' tires or providing them with tire registration forms as required by federal law.
The author, who decided not to have his letter published, said he had never heard of such a law and, to learn more about it, contacted his largest tire distributorscompanies that also run multiple-retail store locations. He was told, NOBODY DOES THIS. He also discovered these firms had no policies or procedures in place regarding tire registration.
Digging deeper, he visited web-sites of his primary tire makers and found information about registering tires but no place to enter a vehicle identification number (VIN). Without a VIN, he said, there probably was only a 50-percent chancein case of a recallthat the current vehicle owner would discover it due to the high rate of vehicle ownership turnover. So he concluded that voluntary tire registration likely was minimally useful and never enforced. He was all for safety, he wrote, but against wasting time for what he called a half-baked effort.
This letter illustrates the problem with tire registration. Many tire dealers don't know about the law; others simply don't care about it. There's no enforcement and no national database for tire identification numbers. Yet in the event of a recall, registration is hugely important to keep the driving public safe.
As the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and Tire Industry Association (TIA) square off again on this issue, it's important to keep in mind that what's really needed is a universal, easy way to register tiresnot more federal legislation.
Before the age of the Internet, creating and managing a massive database to house tire and vehicle registration data would have required a gargantuan effort. Today it should be relatively easy to register tires at the time of sale and connect them to vehicles' VIN numbers.
Rather than waste time and effort arguing and lobbying about whether tire registration should be federally mandated or stay voluntary, we suggest TIA and the RMA work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire registration companies, tire dealers, tire manufacturers and tire dealership soft-ware providers to devise a workable programnot another lawthat can be part of every point-of-sale computer software package.