HILTON HEAD, S.C.—The Tire Industry Association and the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association are cooperating to find an effective and equitable way of registering tires in case of a recall, speakers said at the 34th Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference in Hilton Head.
"We are coming together for the sake of the industry and for the motoring public," David Martin, director of sales for American Tire Distributors and president of TIA, said at the meeting held April 18-20.
Martin delivered his address in tandem with TIA Vice President John Evankovich, who also is director of tire and battery centers for Sam's Club.
Both agreed that tire registration has been one of the most emotional issues for tire dealers since Congress first mandated the process in 1970 as an amendment to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
In 1982, after intensive lobbying by tire dealers, Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety and Cost Savings Authorization Act, which, among other things, required tire manufacturers to provide both independent and non-independent tire dealers with standardized tire registration forms.
The pair outlined that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final rule on this provision in 1983, then amended it in the following year to reduce its physical size so it could be mailed as a postcard.
In 2003, NHTSA responded positively to a letter from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (then known as the Rubber Manufacturers Association) asking whether the tire registration law allowed tire manufacturers to offer electronic registration, they said.
The agency followed up in January 2009 with a final rule that stated tire dealers were allowed to use electronic as well as paper registration methods, they said.
However, the registration issue heated up again in December 2015, when Congress passed the Tire Efficiency, Safety and Registration Act as part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act.
According to news stories at the time, the new law required tire dealers to register tires at the point of sale and transmit the information electronically to tire makers.
The USTMA supported the rule, but TIA argued that a return to the original mandatory registration language would be both antiquated and unfairly punitive.
In March 2016, according to news reports, TIA wrote NHTSA saying that electronic chips embedded inside tires would solve most of the remaining problems with identifying tires involved in safety recalls.
At Hilton Head, Martin and Evankovich announced that TIA and USTMA members have been discussing the tire registration issue for the past year.
"It is very important for us as manufacturers and dealers to have a (registration) system that people will use," said Jay Spears, director of standards and regulation for Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C., who joined Martin and Evankovich on stage.
Getting recalled tires out of the market in the most effective way possible is imperative, according to Spears.
"If I put a code on a chip in the tire and the dealer isn't using that, it's just a waste," he said.
Continental had a case, Spears said, in which 47 tires out of a batch of 15,000 were defective. Going to the original equipment customer, Conti was told the tires could be on any of 97,000 new vehicles.
"Going to 97,000 vehicles to get back 47 tires—that's a chore," he said. "But if I can go to a dealer in Des Moines and tell him what to look for, we have a much better chance of getting those tires back."
The talks on tire registration have been an eye-opening process for all involved, according to Martin.
"As we move forward, we need to have as much transparency as possible," he said. "Without tire registration, you don't get to recall and recovery."