As the calendar shifts to 2016, tire dealers have a new law with which to contend.
Tire registration, which has been voluntary for nearly four decades, will now become mandatory under a provision in the recently passed five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.
That provision directs the secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to initiate rulemaking to require independent distributors of tires to register all of the tires they sell at the point of sale and transmit that information electronically to tire manufacturers or the manufacturers' designees.
The new law cannot take effect until new rulemaking is promulgated, reviewed (including taking comments from interested parties) and put into place. That means nothing likely will change in the near term, although it will as soon as new tire registration regulations are developed and ultimately put into place.
How long that process might take is anybody's guess. It could take years depending on the priority the DOT and its agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, place on this action.
So what should dealers do now?
c Don't ignore this issue and hope that it goes away. It won't, although it very well could take years to come to fruition.
c Educate yourself on what is required of tire retailers regarding the new tire registration mandate. In the past independent tire dealers were required to give tire purchasers a registration card, provided by their tire manufacturer, importer or distributor. It was then up to the customer whether he or she would fill it out and mail it in. This was the voluntary part.
The new law is different. According to the Tire Efficiency, Safety and Registration Act of 2015, it will require a distributor or dealer of tires that is not owned or controlled by a manufacturer of tires to electronically transmit the records...to the manufacturer of the tires or the designee of the manufacturer by secure means at no cost to tire purchasers or lessors.
c Make your voice heard. The act also requires the transportation secretary to conduct a study to examine the feasibility of including readable electronic devices on tires that would contain the tire identification number (TIN) and all relevant registration information. Let the Tire Industry Association and your state/regional tire dealer group know your opinions on this issue. They may be able to influence how the rulemaking ultimately is decided.
c Look at your own practices for tire registration. If you haven't been registering your customers' tires, you might want to begin doing so. This will keep your location in compliance with the new rule and will help prepare your dealership for when the new tire registration rules become effective.
c Talk to your software suppliers to see what programs or fixes they have available to make tire registration possible at the point of sale.
Whatever your take on the situation, the new tire registration rules are here to stay. But they don't have to be onerous to tire dealers who take a proactive approach in dealing with them.
In the long view, look at it as another service you're offering customersnot to mention the way your dealership will avoid large fines for noncompliance.