Law & Order

NHTSA Says Electronic Tire IDs Are Technologically Feasible

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that it is technologically possible to provide the tire identification number (TIN) data in an electronic format for all tires. The findings are included in a Congressional study required under the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The electronically readable data would be a marking or tag within or on the tire sidewall. The TIN could then be captured and transmitted electronically using a hand-held scanning tool.   

The TIN is a string of 6 to 13 letters and numbers marked on the sidewall of a tire that contains information about the tire, including the plant where the tire was manufactured, the tire size and the week/year of manufacture. The TIN assists in owner notification when there is a tire recall. The TIN is not unique to the individual tire but rather applies to all of the same types of tires produced at a factory during a specific calendar week.

NHTSA identified two candidates for creating an electronic TIN: radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and two-dimensional (2-D) barcodes. RFID tags are small electronic components that consist of a small chip and an antenna. RFID tags are typically attached to, or implanted within, an item and contain electronic information used to identify that item.  

The 2-D barcodes are two-dimensional optical arrays that represent data using many small, contrasting geometric shapes, such as squares and circles. The barcodes are usually applied to an item and encoded with information used to identify, track or provide details about the item. NHTSA noted that it does not have complete information regarding the long-term durability for these technologies and it did not perform a cost/benefit analysis for implementing this solution.

Electronic technology could provide the industry an easier and more accurate method to scan tire data as they are sold rather than relying on paper registrations. The TIN could then be linked to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), making it a more reliable way to contact the current registered owner in case of a recall.

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at