Tire recordkeeping has been a requirement for vehicle manufacturers — a group that includes trailer manufacturers — since 1971.
The problem, according to National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) compliance consultant Clint Lancaster, is that the trailer industry hasn't fully understood its responsibilities because of ambiguities in the regulation — 49 CFR 574 — which is located in a section that deals primarily with tire manufacturers and dealers.
“Because of issues with the recent recall of 455,000 Chinese tires, NHTSA has voiced concern and focused attention on tire recordkeeping,” Lancaster said. “From that, we have a better understanding of what we need to do to meet the federal requirement. We now accept the responsibility to better understand the federal requirements. Because this issue is on the NHTSA radar screen, the NATM Board has taken a more active role in educating our members about their compliance obligations. Over the next year, tire recordkeeping will become part of the NATM compliance certification.”
Trailer manufacturers are primarily interested in 574.10, but there are compliance implications for them and especially for their dealers in 574.8 and 574.9.
According to Section 574.10, “Each motor vehicle manufacturer, or his designee, shall maintain a record of the new tires on or in each vehicle shipped by him or a motor vehicle distributor or dealer, and shall maintain a record of the name and address of the first purchaser for purposes other than resale of each vehicle equipped with such tires. These records shall be maintained for a period of not less than five years from the date of sale of the vehicle to the first purchaser for purposes other than resale.”
Does this apply to trailer manufacturers as vehicle manufacturers? Yes, according to NHTSA's official response to a past interpretation request.
“49 CFR Part 574 has two separate recordkeeping requirements,” Lancaster said. “Both sections have been in effect, largely unchanged, since 1971. The first, 49 CFR 574.7, applies to tire manufacturers and requires them to maintain tire registration records that they receive from tire dealers and distributors. The second section, 49 CFR 574.10, applies to motor vehicle manufacturers and requires them to maintain registration records on tires that they install on motor vehicles prior to first sale. These two recordkeeping requirements are separate requirements. Thus, NATM's members are required to keep records of all new tires they place on their motor vehicles prior to first sale subject to the requirements of 49 CFR 574.10.”
The key elements
Lancaster said 49 CFR 574.10 requires four key elements:
The trailer manufacturer, or designee, must maintain “a record” of the new tires “on or in” all trailers it ships or the trailer dealer ships.
This “record” must provide identification of tire size, brand, and batch or lot (the “record” also may be the tire's Tire Identification Number, or TIN).
The trailer manufacturer or designee also must maintain “a record” of the retail purchaser (name and address of the consumer/customer) equipped with the tires “on or in” the trailer when shipped.
The trailer manufacturer (or designee) must keep (maintain) the records for at least five years.
What happens when a manufacturer ships trailers to a dealer with no tires “on or in” those trailers? According to 574.9, the companion regulation to 574.10, the trailer dealer becomes a “tire dealer” with its own set of recordkeeping obligations. 574.9(b) provides: “Each person selling a motor vehicle to first purchasers, for purposes other than resale, that is equipped with new tires that were not on the motor vehicle when shipped by the motor vehicle manufacturer is considered a tire dealer for purposes of this part and shall meet the (tire recordkeeping) requirements specified in 574.8.”
Other sections of 49 CFR 574 may have requirements applicable to trailer manufacturers and their dealers: 574.7 covers tire recordkeeping requirements for tire manufacturers; and 574.8 covers tire recordkeeping requirements for tire dealers and distributors.
Lancaster listed some scenarios for trailer manufacturers:
Direct trailer sales to the consumer. “You sell them the trailer right off your lot to the consumer. We can easily capture that name and address of the customer.”
The trailer is shipped to the dealer with wheels and tires attached. “Most of your cargo horse trailers and utility trailers have wheels and tires mounted on them, so we do know what tires are on what trailers. At this point, we just need to get information back from the dealers on who purchased them.”
The trailer is shipped to the dealer with wheels and tires NOT attached and not designated for attachment to a specific trailer. “In other words, we have a bunch of tires on a trailer and the dealer just figures out which trailer they go onto. We do not know which trailer got a certain tire number.”
The trailer is shipped to the dealer with wheels and tires NOT attached, but designated — either color-coded or bar-coded — for attachment to a specific trailer.
The tires are shipped to a dealer for dealer stock. “Now this doesn't even include the trailer. These are just tires you are shipping because they want extra tires to have on the lot.”
Tires-only sold directly to the consumer. “Maybe somebody knows you have a shop there and they just want to buy a tire from you. You assume the role of a tire dealer or distributor at that point.”
Tire Identification Number
Lancaster said a TIN is a series of letters and numbers in prescribed groupings embossed on or molded into the tire, starting with “DOT” and followed by four groups: manufacturer identification; tire size; type (optional); and a two-digit week and two-digit year of manufacture (ie, 2607).
“It's important to us because it gives us the batch information,” he said. “I've noticed that a lot of tires have DOT and AYR stamped on both sides, but for production reasons, I'm sure for some it is only stamped on one side. So flip the tire over and look on other side. I've also noticed that the stamps are not real clear. They don't do a real good job of making that impression. You may want to talk to the tire manufacturer or your distributor and let them know they need to tighten that process up.”
The trailer manufacturer records tire information (size, brand, and batch or lot) or the TIN, along with the name and address of the end-user/customer (first retail purchaser), which can't be the dealer.
“The trailer manufacturer must get the information back from either the trailer dealer, the consumer, or the tire manufacturer, unless it sells directly to the consumer,” Lancaster said. “We have to have some type of relationship with the dealer. We can pretty much capture the tire number but as far as name and address, we have to get that from somewhere unless we sell the trailer directly to the consumer right off our lot and we have that information there.”
Some possible means:
Trailer/vehicle warranty cards. “That will give you the name and address of who actually purchased that trailer.”
Tire registry cards sent back to you from the consumer.
Dealer reports or interface systems.
Third-party tire registration services.
How to maintain the information:
Hard copy file. “Maybe we are capturing the tire identification number in the shop off the production order or whatever follows the trailer through the shop.”
VIN software, such as Vin-eze, FedCert, or a manufacturer's own automated system.
Designate a third party to share a portion of the recordkeeping obligations. Candidates include: trailer dealer/distributor, tire manufacturer/supplier, or third-party registry service.
“Maintain that for at least five years from the time the vehicle is sold to consumer,” Lancaster said. “That doesn't mean from the time you made it or shipped it. If it sat on your dealer's lot for a year and didn't sell, the period doesn't start. Then when it's sold, it's five years from that time.”
Lancaster said tire recordkeeping for vehicle manufacturers (49 CFR 574.10) has been added to the NATM compliance requirements effective January 2008.
“It needs to be on there, especially in light of the importance NHTSA has placed on tires in general,” he said.
To help manufacturers avoid losing their certification, or not obtaining certification, NATM will extend the period to become compliant to 180 days (as opposed to the normal 60 days) for this specific item.
In conjunction with this extended compliance period, NATM will be educating manufacturers and identifying tools to help support compliance with this regulation.
He said NATM compliance consultants have been monitoring this requirement in the field during the past year.
“We've observed that there are a lot of different ways people are handling this program,” he said. “There are a lot of manufacturers that are complying and a lot that aren't, a lot that don't know or don't understand it. With the ones that are complying, there are a host of different ways.
“So when we come out with our compliance consultants, there are four criteria we will use. First, is the required tire information being recorded for each trailer? Second, is there a process in place and used to obtain the first retail purchaser's name and address? We want to make sure you are capturing that TIN and are able to retrieve the name and address of the consumer back to the organization. Third, if the manufacturer has chosen to assign a designee, are written, executed (signed) designee assignments on file? Fourth, is there a process in place to verify designee compliance?”