Reader Question: “Chipped” Tires?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply: 

Jason asks: I’m looking to buy new tires and I was wondering if you knew of any brands that don’t have an RFID chip embedded.  Most of the major American brands – Michelin, Goodyear, BFGoodrich, etc. have been embedding the chips for many years now.  I’d really like to buy tires that don’t have the chip (the chip can be, and is, used to track people, as they drive around). I was skeptical at first about this, then researched it on the net, and I’m convinced its true, sadly.  It works the same way as toll roads — they can read the chip in tires from many meters away.  And, the ID in the chips is tied to the vehicle VIN number, in large computer databases. Anyway, do you have any suggestions for me?

My reply: I know the tires have scannable bar codes and that tire shops enter the VIN of the vehicle and correlate it with the tires’ bar code. There are legitimate reasons for this – such as being able to quickly send out a recall notice to a vehicle owner with defective tires – but also illegitimate (in my view) reasons, such as dictating to the customer that he buy a certain speed-rated tire, based on the car’s original-equipment specifications.

As far as the RFID chips: I know for certain that Michelin tires have them (see here). I also gather that Goodyear, Bridgestone, Cooper, Continental and Pirelli tires also have the RFID chips.

Apparently, General tires do not. Also some other brands, such as Kelly, Toyo and Yokohama.

They are supposedly being used for the same/similar reasons as the bar code. And supposedly, they can only be scanned from within 20 feet or so. But I agree with you that they represent another obnoxious and even sinister invasion of our privacy – and without our knowledge or consent. The tire stores aren’t telling people their new tires have tracking technology embedded in them.

The good news, either way, is that these chips can be fried pretty easily. Here’s an article that explains how.

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