Michelin North America, Inc., (Michelin) has determined that approximately 750 size 215/55R16 Energy MXV4 Plus 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), Michelin 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 December 3, 2002, in the Federal Register (67 FR 72026). NHTSA received no comment on this application.
Michelin's Ardmore, Oklahoma plant produced approximately 750 tires with incorrect markings during the period from March 13, 2002, through March 27, 2002. The tires were marked: “Tread Plies: 1 Polyester + 2 Steel + 1 Polyamide, Sidewall Plies: 1 Polyester.” The correct marking required by FMVSS No. 109 is: “Tread Plies: 2 Polyester + 2 Steel + 1 Polyamide, Sidewall Plies: 2 Polyester.”
The labeling requirements of FMVSS No. 109, New Pneumatic Tires, S4.3, paragraphs (d) and (e), mandate that each tire 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. Also, each tire must be labeled with the generic name of each cord material used in the sidewall and tread.
Michelin stated that the noncompliant tires were actually constructed with more sidewall and tread plies than indicated on the sidewall marking (two tread and sidewall plies rather than one). Michelin believes that this noncompliance is particularly unlikely to have an adverse impact on motor vehicle safety and is “clearly” inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Michelin stated that the noncompliant tires meet or exceed all performance requirements of FMVSS No. 109 and will have no impact on the operational performance or safety of vehicles on which these tires are mounted.
The Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act (Public Law 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 Start Printed Page 32579574, and part 575. With regard to the tire construction labeling requirements of FMVSS 109, S4.3, paragraphs (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. As a result, many light truck tires will be inflated outside a restraining device or safety cage where they represent a substantial threat to the technician. 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 unlikely that the majority of 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 label 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.Start Signature
Issued on: May 23, 2003.
Stephen R. Kratzke,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 03-13539 Filed 5-29-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P