WASHINGTON—The Tire Industry Association said it will “do everything in its power” to defeat legislation to re-establish mandatory tire registration.
TIA is organizing both its members and state tire dealership associations in a grassroots effort to prevent passage of a mandatory registration bill, either as stand-alone legislation or—more likely—as a provision in the transportation funding reauthorization, which must pass by July 31.
“I haven't seen our phones light up like this in 30 years,” Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, said in a telephone interview regarding the issue. “The small dealers are worried about the fines, and the large dealers are worried about having to give up their customer lists to the manufacturers.”
S. 1741, the Tire Efficiency, Safety and Registration Act, was introduced in the Senate July 9. Among other things, S. 1741—which has the strong backing of the Rubber Manufacturers Association—would require independent tire dealers to register the tires they sell.
The Senate bill came closely on introduction of the GROW AMERICA Act, the Obama administration's six-year, $478 billion transportation funding bill. The GROW AMERICA Act also contains a provision mandating tire registration by independent dealers.
TIA is on record as opposing both bills because of their mandatory registration provisions. A return to mandatory registration, it said, will leave tire dealers liable for fines of up to $700,000 per location for violations.
“We are 100 percent against mandatory tire registration,” Littlefield said in the July 13 issue of TIA's Weekly Legislative Update. “We plan to fight it. We also plan to reach out to the industry and talk about it.”
However, the RMA has shown no desire to work with TIA on this issue, according to Littlefield. “I've been around since 1979, and I can't believe that on a market solution, the RMA and the manufacturers are supporting legislative action,” he said.
In supporting S. 1741, the RMA argues that since voluntary registration became law in 1982, tire registration rates fell from nearly 50 percent to only about 15 percent.
However, Littlefield said the RMA's figures don't account for tire dealers who register the tires they sell and keep the numbers in order to contact customers directly in case of a recall.
“Only the smallest, mom-and-pop dealers have any trouble with registration,” he said. “Tire manufacturers haven't done nearly enough to inform them of the law, and I would bet very few of them have ever received registration cards from the manufacturers.”