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Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Manufacturing, Grant of Application for Decision That Noncompliance Is Inconsequential to Motor Vehicle Safety

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Manufacturing (Uniroyal) has determined that a total 11,262 P155/80R 13 79S Uniroyal Tiger Paw AWP tires do not meet the labeling requirements mandated by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 109, “New Pneumatic Tires.”

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), Uniroyal has petitioned for a determination that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR Part 573, “Defect and Noncompliance Reports.”

Notice of receipt of the application was published, with a 30-day comment period, on October 1, 2002, in the Federal Register (67 FR 61724). NHTSA received no comment on this application.

During the period of the 5th through the 48th weeks of 2000, the Woodburn, Indiana plant of Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Manufacturing produced and cured a total of 11,262 tires with erroneous marking. Of this total, no more than 3,796 may have been delivered to end-users. The remaining tires have been isolated in Uniroyal warehouses and will be brought into compliance.

FMVSS No. 109 (S4.3(e)) requires that each tire shall have permanently molded into or onto both sidewalls the actual number of plies in the sidewall, and the actual number of plies in the tread area if different.

The noncompliance with S4.3(e) relates to the mold number. The tires were marked: SIDEWALL 2 Plies instead of the required marking of: SIDEWALL 1 Ply.

Uniroyal does not believe that this marking error will impact motor vehicle safety because the tires meet all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety performance standards, and the noncompliance is one of labeling.

The Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act (Pub. L. 106-414) required, among other things, that the agency initiate rulemaking to improve tire label information. In response, the agency published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register on December 1, 2000 (65 FR 75222). The agency received more than 20 comments on the tire labeling information required by 49 CFR Sections 571.109 and 119, Part 567, Part 574, and Part 575. With regard to the tire construction labeling requirements of FMVSS 109, S4.3(d) and (e), most commenters indicated that the information was of little or no safety value to consumers. However, according to the comments, when tires are processed for retreading or repairing, it is important for the retreader or repair technician to understand the make-up of the tires and the types of plies. This enables them to select the proper repair materials or procedures for retreading or repairing the tires. A steel cord radial tire can experience a circumferential or “zipper” rupture in the upper sidewall when it is operated underinflated or overloaded. If information regarding the number of plies and cord material is removed from the sidewall, technicians cannot determine if the tire has a steel cord sidewall ply. This information is critical when determining if the tire is a candidate for a zipper rupture. In this case, since the steel cord construction is properly identified on the sidewall, the technician will have sufficient notice.

In addition, the agency conducted a series of focus groups, as required by the TREAD Act, to examine consumer perceptions and understanding of tire labeling. Few of the focus group participants had knowledge of tire labeling beyond the tire brand name, tire size, and tire pressure.

Based on the information obtained from comments to the ANPRM and the consumer focus groups, we have concluded that it is likely that few consumers have been influenced by the tire construction information (number of plies and cord material in the sidewall and tread plies) provided on the tire sidewall when deciding to buy a motor vehicle or tire.

The agency believes that the true measure of inconsequentiality to motor vehicle safety in this case is the effect of the noncompliance on the operational safety of vehicles on which these tires are mounted. This labeling noncompliance has no effect on the performance of the subject tires.

In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the applicant has met its burden of persuasion that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, its application is granted and the applicant is exempted from providing the notification of the noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and from remedying the noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120.

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Authority: (49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8)

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Issued on: January 28, 2003.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.

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[FR Doc. 03-2428 Filed 1-31-03; 8:45 am]