LAS VEGASThe Tire Industry Association (TIA) is urging independent tire dealers throughout the U.S. to join the trade group in petitioning Congress to reject a return to mandatory tire registration.
TIA has posted a petition and draft letter on the www.change.org website. In the petition, the association states its position that tire retailers oppose:
c Shifting the liability and cost for tire registration to the retailer.
c Returning to an archaic pencil and paper registration system that Congress ended in 1982.
c Requiring retailers to turn their customer lists over to tire makers as manufacturers begin online tire sales; and
c Fining retailers up to $1,000 per tire and $700,000 per location for failure to properly register tires.
At the same, TIA suggests tire retailers support a call for tire manufacturers and retailers to come together to develop an industry solution to improve registration and recall performance.
The association also suggested dealers contact their representatives in Congress directly.
TIA noted in posting the petition that the Senate highway bill (DRIVE Act) pending before Congress includes a tire dealer provision that was added with no notice in a manager's amendment in the Commerce Committee markup.
The provisiontitled Tire registration by independent sellerswould set into motion rulemaking by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that could reinstate a 1970s-era paperwork mandate on small businesses and potentially shift blame for recall performance to independent gasoline stations, truck stops and tire dealers from the product manufacturers, TIA contends.
The Senate proposal was added without hearings or discussion, TIA said, yet would reinstate previously rejected NHTSA rules that Congress halted under the Motor Vehicle Safety and Cost Savings Authorization Act of 1982.
Under the 1970s rules, NHTSA demanded detailed registration information and levied hefty fines on independent dealers who had failed to comply. The demands were onerous, according to TIA, and serious legal requirements became the responsibility of mechanics, tire installers and gasoline station managers.
Compliance rates were low but small businesses could not afford to pay the fines, which could reach as high as $700,000, threatening the viability of the family-owned businesses. The system was unworkable and did not advance safety, TIA claimed.
In 1982, Congress changed the requirements to establish a voluntary registration process in which customers, rather than dealers, voluntarily registered their tires.
While the current Senate provision is vague and gives broad latitude to NHTSA to regulate these small businesses, TIA said the language is specific enough to include direction for tire dealers to turn over their customer lists to manufacturersan idea that dealers adamantly oppose. We oppose a return to the failed, onerous paperwork requirements of the past and urge the House to reject any legislation that could lead to independent dealers being forced to turn over our customer information to product manufacturers, TIA said.
TIA does acknowledge that tire recall performance can be improved, and said it would like to work on that with tire manufacturers to achieve this goal.
One way to achieve this, it said, would be for manufacturers to add low-cost, proven RFID chips to tires, allowing maintenance professionals to scan tires and immediately be alerted to any open recalls. Instead of more NHTSA rules, adoption of this technology not only will improve registration compliance, but TIA said it also would greatly improve recall rates.
We ask Congress to encourage tire manufacturers and dealers to come to a mutual agreement to improve recall performance, rather than pit the two sides against each other with controversial legislation and more regulations, TIA said.