RMA makes case for electronic tire registration

March 31, 2003

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue an interpretation letter that will allow the agency to accept electronic tire registrations.

It is hoped that this electronic system will boost the percentage of consumers who register their newly purchased tires. Only about 10% of consumers currently comply, says the RMA.

NHTSA recently issued a similar interpretation to allow for electronic registration of child safety restraints.

Federal regulations currently mandate tire registration only through the use of a printed index card presented to consumers at the point of purchase. Tire retailers must provide consumers with the appropriate tire size, type and tire identification number of the tires that were purchases.

Tire manufactures want consumers to have additional, easier choices to register newly purchased tires that will enhance the government’s ability to accurately notify motorists of a potential safety issue with tires.

“The current tire registration system was crafted in 1970 when telephones were rotary-dial and most computers were the size of a small car,” says Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president, government affairs.

“NHTSA has permitted electronic registration as a complementary registration scheme for consumers who purchase child restraint systems, provided that the manufacturer also complies with the current regulation and the offered alternative does not confuse consumers or ‘obscure the importance of owner registration,’ the RMA wrote in a letter to NHTSA General Counsel, Jacqueline Glassman. “RMA believes NHTSA should adopt a similar interpretation for tire registration.

RMA wants tire manufacturers to be permitted to provide tire dealers and distributors a “supplemental form” that notifies consumers that they may also register their tires by electronic means. This new form would be in addition to –- not in lieu of –- the form currently required under federal law.

The form would direct consumers to the manufacturer’s Web site, which would contain a template to allow the consumer to input the information required under current law and instantly transmit this information to the manufacturer. Rather than “obscure the importance of owner registration,” this form would highlight the importance of tire registration and would be readily distinguishable from the form required by regulation.

RMA believes that the inclusion of these new registration systems will greatly improve the return rate of important tire identification information.

“With an improved tire registration rate, NHTSA’s mission to promote motor vehicle safety will certainly be enhanced,” Wilson says.