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Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper) has determined that certain tires it manufactured during 2004 do not comply with S6.5(f) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 119, “New pneumatic tires for vehicles other than passenger cars.” Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), Cooper 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 a petition was published, with a 30-day comment period, on May 7, 2004 in the Federal Start Printed Page 42240Register (69 FR 25655). NHTSA received one comment.

S6.5(f) of FMVSS No. 119 requires that each tire shall be marked on each sidewall with “the actual number of plies and the composition of the ply cord material in the sidewall.” Cooper produced approximately 148 size 11R24.5 Cooper and Mastercraft brand tubeless radial tires during the period from February 29, 2004 through March 6, 2004 that do not comply with FMVSS No. 119, S6.5(f). These tires were marked “tread 5 plies steel; sidewall 1 ply steel,” when they should have been marked “tread 4 plies steel; sidewall 1 ply steel.”

Cooper stated that the incorrect number of steel tread plies was removed from the molds by buffing and the correct number of steel tread plies inserted; however, prior to the molds being correctly stamped, 148 tires were inadvertently shipped.

Cooper stated that the incorrect number of steel tread plies on each tire does not present a safety issue. Cooper explained:

The involved tires have been redesigned by Cooper, and the fifth steel belt removed. This change was done to improve tread wear resistance and has no effect on the tire's ability to meet all applicable DOT testing standards. The certification data from the redesigned four steel ply construction showed no remarkable difference when compared to the equivalent certification data for the previous five ply steel construction. Both sets of data are well in excess of DOT requirements.

Cooper stated that the involved tires comply with all other requirements of FMVSS No. 119.

One comment was received in response to the notice of receipt. The commenter, Barb Sashaw of Florham Park, NJ, stated:

I do not think there should be any exemption for Cooper Tires. This company violated federal standards. Cooper tried to make money since 5 ply cots [sic] more than 4 ply and Cooper would then make higher profits. It may have been a blatant attempt to steal money because consumers would pay more for an inferior tire.

The issue to be considered in determining whether to grant this petition is the effect of the noncompliance on motor vehicle safety. The comment does not address this issue, and therefore is not persuasive in its argument that the petition should not be granted.

The agency agrees with Cooper's statement that the incorrect designation of 5 plies when there were actually 4 plies in each tire does not present a serious safety concern. The agency believes that the true measure of inconsequentiality to motor vehicle safety in this case is that there is no effect of the noncompliance on the operational safety of vehicles on which these tires are mounted.

Although tire construction affects the strength and durability, neither the agency nor the tire industry provides information relating tire strength and durability to the number of plies and types of ply cord material in the tread and sidewall. Therefore, tire dealers and customers should consider the tire construction information along with other information such as the load capacity, maximum inflation pressure, and tread wear, temperature, and traction ratings, to assess performance capabilities of various tires. In the agency's judgment, the incorrect labeling of the tire construction information will have an inconsequential effect on motor vehicle safety because most consumers do not base tire purchases or vehicle operation parameters on the number of plies in a tire.

In addition, the tires are certified to meet all the performance requirements of FMVSS No. 119. All other informational markings as required by FMVSS No. 119 are present. Cooper has corrected the problem.

In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the petitioner has met its burden of persuasion that the noncompliance described is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Cooper's petition is granted and the petitioner is exempted from the obligation of providing notification of, and a remedy for, the noncompliance.

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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: July 7, 2004.

Kenneth N. Weinstein,

Associate Administrator for Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 04-15973 Filed 7-13-04; 8:45 am]