Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:
Ray asks: Went to a Walmart today to have new tires put on vehicle. Employee came out to vehicle with a hand held computer and asked me a battery of questions. VIN#, license plate data, mileage, any dents, etc. I asked why all of this data was needed just to change tires and he told me a new policy was in effect. Later, I asked a store manager same question and was told a new mandate from DOT required all service centers to obtain this data? Do you know if this is correct?
My Reply: I am going to check with my friend Tim – who owns a car repair shop – but I can’t find anything on the DOT/NHTSA web sites to the effect that car owners are required to provide such information. There are regs about identifying tires, their date of manufacture and so on (see here) but these apply to the manufacturer, not the end user (customer) and this business about collecting information about dents is almost certainly Wal Mart’s own Orwellian rigamarole.
I would have told them to show me the regulations. Not theirs. The government’s.
Private businesses are becoming as intrusive as the government, unfortunately.
PS: Check back in a bit; I will add whatever I find out after speaking with my friend about this.
UPDATE: There is no law requiring this, according to my friend Tim. However, he says many shops are collecting this info. They use the VIN to – as an example – find out whether the car originally came equipped with speed rated tires – and because of that, refuse to sell you tires with a lesser speed rating. But the really creepy thing is that by accessing the VIN, they gain access to detailed info not only about the vehicle but also about other things as well, things which are arguably none of their business.
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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