WASHINGTON—Mandating electronic chips embedded inside tires would solve most of the remaining problems with identifying tires involved in safety recalls, the Tire Industry Association has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The concept, which TIA calls “TIN to VIN,” would link the tire identification number permanently to the vehicle identification number, making it much easier to reach the current registered owner, TIA told NHTSA in comments submitted March 10.
TIA submitted its statement in response to NHTSA's recent request for public comment on how to update the means of notifying consumers in the case of recalls and improving the efficacy of recalls.
The NHTSA notice was in response to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act signed by President Obama in December.
The FAST Act contains several tire-related provisions, including one directing NHTSA to require tire sellers to register tires at the point of sale and transmit the information electronically to tire makers.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association wrote and supported that provision. TIA, however, argued that a return to the 1970s-era mandatory registration language would be both hopelessly antiquated and unfairly punitive.
TIA also argued the requirement to transmit information electronically to tire makers would constitute tire sellers turning over their customer lists to tire makers, which could then solicit customers directly.
In its comments, TIA noted it persuaded Congress to include a provision in the FAST Act requiring NHTSA to examine the feasibility of requiring tire makers to include electronic identification on every tire to reflect the information contained in the TIN.
Including such technology would give tire retailers an easy and accurate way of scanning all the tires they sell for “TIN to VIN” information, TIA said.
TIA also urged NHTSA to designate a single third-party organization to collect and store the tire information.
A centralized recall database would ensure personal privacy and prevent the use of registration data for marketing purposes, TIA said. Such a database would also allow tire service providers to identify recalled tires during normal service and maintenance, it said.
“While we recognize that tire registration is important, the primary goal must be to remove defective tires from the highway,” said TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield. “TIA is confident that electronic information is the first step towards that goal.”